Long-awaited projects puts Hollywood in the spotlight
By Larry Blustein
HOLLYWOOD - No matter where you travel within this community, there is progress.
From the beach to the western reaches of a city that has been moving forward - with new structures taking the place of the old, abandoned businesses, this is now a place that really wants to attract visitors and keep its many residents from heading off to other cities.
Two long-awaited projects are now in full swing - with the new Publix and other stores and shops taking the place where the Hollywood Lincoln Mercury dealer had been in business for years.
West Lake Commons will combine shopping and dining to an area that really had been in need of a major infusion.
"Anytime you add a mix of newer stores with a Publix, it always does an area very good," said Kevin Harris, who has owned a home in the neighborhood for 22 years. "When we found that this was going to be something like this, it made a lot of us much happier."
The area around Sheridan Street and U.S. 1 has been compared a lot over the years to many of the areas around the "441 Corridor." There was nothing really appealing about to attract anyone to come to. But for residents like Harris - or businesses owners like Rosh Lewin - it means just about everything.
With several stores, restaurants and specialty shops, the idea was to give the West Lake Commons a much more upscale look - and attract many who use the road each and every day.
"This is a huge asset for any city to have such a major piece of land that will be devoted to bringing in better clientele," Lewis explained. "I see things getting better for all of us - because frankly it was never appealing to come in here."
WHAT WERE THEY WAITING FOR?
For years, the Hollywood Fashion Center has stood like a science fiction movie, boarded up, dark and a true waste of one of south Florida's most heavily traveled roads at 441 and Hollywood Blvd.
We all know the story about the facility that was one a thriving shopping destination for all of southeast Broward County, but then growth started to take place out west and Pembroke Pines started to grab the spotlight.
While the facility tried to stay alive - with everything from the defunct Millennium Mall to plans for medical buildings and housing, the property became an eyesore and was a source for every politician to do little in the name of pushing the sale or demolition of a great piece of real estate.
For over 15 years, there was enough head-shaking and finger-pointing to fill several volumes of the blame game - until finally - it was announced last year that a Walmart Supercenter - along with several smaller shops and restaurants would give this area more appeal.
While it is news that will be welcome to everyone who lives, works and shops in the area, it is still somewhat disturbing that it took this length of time for the progress to actually start going.
"Having owned a business three blocks from here for 10 years, I have had to be very creative to get people to even see our product," Miguel Casas pointed out. "It has taken so long because I never thought that it was a priority. It seemed that they were strapped to make things happen."
The "441 Corridor" has started to take shape over the past few years. Many of the rundown businesses had actually been demolished - and while there were many vacancies along the heavily traveled street - many are looking for things to change - for the better.
The addition of the Walmart Supercenter will ensure more traffic and exposure for the businesses that are in place - and that is great news for the locals and those who have waited to see progress - throughout the city.
Have any opinions and the positives that Hollywood has been going through? Drop us a note at firstname.lastname@example.org.