Stiles planning downtown Fort Lauderdale redevelopment

The Stiles real estate firm is moving forward with plans to redevelop a stretch of downtown Fort Lauderdale with residential units, retail and a 25-story office tower.

Stiles is scheduled to meet with the city's Development Review Committee on Tuesday to discuss 348 apartments and 25,222 square feet of retail at 212 SE Second Ave. Stiles last year paid $13.1 million for the Bank of America building on the site.

Meanwhile, the developer has started preleasing an office building on a neighboring parcel at 201 E. Las Olas Blvd. as part of a previously announced deal with Broward College to replace its two aging buildings.

The 395,836-square-foot office tower, expected to open in the fall of 2020, would include about 17,000 square feet of ground-floor retail.

The office building would be the largest built in downtown Fort Lauderdale since Stiles developed 200 Las Olas Circle nearly a decade ago. AutoNation is that building's signature tenant.

Office construction virtually ended following the Great Recession, and developers have been slow to propose new projects in the years since.

But market observers say the timing is right for a new building, pointing out the strong demand for space in downtown Fort Lauderdale.

"I would say the lack of large blocks of contiguous space in downtown Fort Lauderdale could be hindering new business relocation," said Peter Reed, of Commercial Florida Realty Services in Boca Raton.

Stiles executives did not return calls Monday. But Chairman Terry Stiles said earlier this year that the office building would revitalize the area "by bringing new and exciting entertainment and dining options to the ground level as well as open venues for gathering."

City officials are trying to make the downtown corridor a live-work-play destination, and having retail within walking distance is a key component of that strategy, said Barry Wolfe, vice president of investments for Marcus & Millichap in Fort Lauderdale.

"To be living downtown and still having to drive everywhere, it becomes more challenging," Wolfe said.

In an online brochure marketing the office tower, Stiles says it has built more than 4 million square feet on and near Las Olas Boulevard.

Projects include Bank of America Plaza at Las Olas City Centre, Plaza at Las Olas and Amaray Las Olas.

Amaray, a luxury apartment building at 215 S.E. Eighth Ave., sold this month for $133.5 million.