How We Got Here: History of Pompano Beach

pompano beach history and future

As you sit sipping your chilled Vueve Clicquot Champagne on the expansive balcony of your beautiful new Sabbia Beach condominium overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, you may wonder how this all came to be, rising out of the sand.

The area, now known as Pompano Beach, was originally the home of the Tequesta tribe of Native Americans. The last remaining trace of the Tequesta is a burial mound in Pompano Beach, near the ocean. You can still see it at Indian Mound Park which overlooks the Intracoastal waterway at Hibiscus Avenue and SE 13th Street.

Although Florida became a U.S. territory in 1821, few inhabitants—European or native American—remained in the area; it was isolated and mainly impenetrable. Until the coming of the railroad, that is.

It all started in 1896 with the arrival of George Butler and Frank Sheen and their families. The first documented residents of the area, the two had arrived as railway employees, part of the great Florida expansion triggered by Henry Flagler’s ventures in the state. Legend has it that Sheen, who was surveying the area, noted on his records the name of the fish he had eaten at dinner: a pompano. Thus, a community got its name and, with the arrival of the first train on February 22, 1896, a town was born in what was then Palm Beach County.

Incorporated as part of Dade County on July 3, 1908, the Town of Pompano contained exactly 269 residents, as recorded by the 1910 census. Pompano became part of Broward County when it was established in 1915. It officially became the city of Pompano Beach in 1947 and, by the 1930 census, the town had experienced over 300% growth in population, recording 2,614 citizens. This trend continued steadily through the 20th Century, with new residents lured by the tropical climate and the natural beauty of the area. The 2010 census counted nearly 100,000 people living along its 3.5 miles of pristine beaches.

Throughout much of its modern history, Pompano Beach was regarded as a sleepy beach town, often noted in travel guides with less-than-flattering descriptions. Development was piecemeal and haphazard, the beach was unkempt, and the city offered little to attract visitors or investment.

The city decided to make changes based on community and traveler feedback. They created two Community Redevelopment Agency areas. Since then, Pompano Beach has invested millions of dollars in improvements to not only revitalize the beach, but to create a new beachside streetscape, a beachside garage, a new fire station and library near the beach and the soon-to-be re-vamped pier.

The city’s upscale transformation has been nothing short of spectacular, from the just-opened Cultural Arts Center, to the fun-filled Lady Luck Shipwreck Park, and the arrival of world-class restaurants and recreation opportunities.

The city, along with New Urban Communities, are developing Pompano Fishing Village, located from the beach to the intracoastal at the Fishing Pier. With the parking garage now complete, the first of many projects is currently under construction.

Directly on the beach will be the Pompano Beach House, a casual yet upscale American grill and bar, operated by the same group that operates Grille 401 on Las Olas in Fort Lauderdale. The Pompano Beach House is currently under construction and expected to be open by Thanksgiving.

Oceanic at Pompano Beach is an exciting new restaurant concept from Raleigh-based LMR, LLC and a homecoming for founders Lou and Joy Moshakos who began their restaurant careers in Deerfield Beach 40 years ago. The ocean-front restaurant, adjacent to the pier, promises to deliver a dynamic experience which starts with the architectural wow-factor. The culinary offering is equally as exciting. The menu features fresh local seafood and grilled items prepared to perfection. Oceanic is slated to start construction in the fall and be open by Summer 2018.

In addition, leases have been signed and the permitting process is under way for proposed eateries that include a BurgerFi and a favorite sweet indulgence, Kilwins.

BurgerFi is an upscale hamburger chain featuring a wide variety of gourmet-style hamburgers, including Wagyu beef, veggie burgers, and lettuce wrap burgers, accompanied by such unique spreads as bacon jam and truffle aioli.

Kilwins is an ice cream parlor and dessert franchise known since 1947 for its high-quality products and friendly customer service. It offers such delicacies as sea-salt caramels, fudge, candy apples, and its famous Kilwins Original Recipe Ice Cream in dozens of flavors.

The new tenants will be a welcoming change to the area since Hurricane Wilma destroyed the old Fisherman’s Wharf restaurant in 2005. Since then, there has been no waterfront dining available in the area.

Of course, there is the famous fishing pier itself, being completely renovated in the shape of—what else—a fish. Hurricane Sandy’s storm surge damaged part of the pier, but the new one will be four feet higher to accommodate rising sea levels, and nearly 70% wider and featuring shade canopies.

There are even more improvements in the works, including designs for the new Innovation District, which would allow up to 750,000 square feet of office space, 165,000 square feet of retail space, 35,000 square feet of restaurants, 1,500 residences, and two hotels with a combined 420 rooms. The plans call for high-end establishments that will attract even more prosperous investment.

In just over 100 years Pompano Beach has gone from a careless notation on a survey map to a growing, thriving city poised to become THE destination resort in South Florida. And, perfectly positioned in the center of all this exciting activity are the ultra-luxurious residences of Sabbia Beach condominiums.

Pompano Beach Fishing Village On the Way

It’s not just the addition of the ultra-luxurious Sabbia Beach condominiums that is helping to turn Pompano Beach into THE place to be. The city forefathers have been working overtime to attract the most upscale, fun, and inviting dining and nightlife to the area, turning Pompano Beach into a resort town that promises to be unique to South Florida.

Case in point: the Pompano Beach Fishing Village, 300 N. Ocean Boulevard, slated to complete the final phase of construction in the very near future. Part of an extensive oceanfront redevelopment effort north of Atlantic Boulevard, the Fishing Village will comprise 6,200 square feet of retail space and a four-level, 615-space parking garage. The site will also feature a tree-lined boulevard for pedestrians, who will be able to walk directly from the Intracoastal waterway to the Atlantic. When completed, the project will span more than six acres on the oceanfront, and include a total of 48,000 square feet of retail space.

Featuring a festival atmosphere, the architectural theme of the project is Old Florida Nautical, offering the typical relaxed, casual atmosphere of a beachside town during the day, and transforming to an upscale, night-out destination after sunset.

Adjacent to the walkway will be a 150-room, 5-story hotel. Fronting North Ocean Boulevard, the well-known Kilwin’s Ice Cream and Burger-Fi, along with Alvin’s Island Tropical Department Store (for retail/beachwear), are already in lease. On the beach itself will be the Pompano Beach House (a casual/upscale American grill and bar, operated by Anderson Real Estate, the same group that operates Grille 401 on Las Olas), and Oceanic Oceanfront Dining (fine seafood). The Pompano Beach House is expected to be completed by the end of this year. All these tenants promise to be especially welcome; since Hurricane Wilma destroyed the old Fisherman’s Wharf restaurant in 2005 there has been no waterfront dining available in the area.

And if all these great shopping and dining opportunities weren’t enough, the famous fishing pier itself is being completely redone in the shape of—what else—a pompano fish. Hurricane Sandy’ storm surge damaged part of the pier, but the new one will be four feet higher to accommodate rising sea levels, and nearly 70% wider.

Pompano Beach Fishing Village is the culmination of an effort that began in 2009. Other improvements have already been made, including more sidewalks, a workout area for adults and a playground for children. It will help transform Pompano Beach’s oceanfront into a “world-class destination,” Kim Briesemeister, a principal at Redevelopment Management Associates, told the Sun Sentinel.


(Please note that everything is subject to change – info sources from various city and private sources.)

Water Taxi:

  • 11 stops for Pompano service, connecting with FLL service A signature metal archway will identify each stop
  • 1.5 hours from Northern-most taxi stop to FLL
  • Contract to prepare seawall fencing with archway entrance expected to be approved by city commission by July 11 or sooner
  • Service to start October 1, 2017
  • Two vessels to start – single deck each with bench seating
  • Occupancy 44-49 people including master and captain
  • One enclosed with A/C and bathroom, other fully open Service to be provided by: Pompano Water Taxi, LLC
  • Need to give a special name to the service.

From North to South, stops for scheduled service are expected to include:

  • Caps Place (West side of ICW)
  • Hillsboro Inlet Marina
  • NE 16. Street off of Riverside Drive
  • NE 141b Street at Alsdorf Park boat launch (W side of ICW) NE 12 Street near Marriotts
  • NE 2. Street (Pier Street Parking Garage) First slop lo be built. Sands Harbor Hotel & Marina
  • St. Martin’s Church (West side of ICW)
  • (and possibly Houston’s)
  • Madison’s Steakhouse – to break ground soon
  • Indian Mound Park
  • Benihana’s LBTS (possibly Kaluz on West side of ICW) Bokamper’s FLL
  • In addition to scheduled service, “whistle stop” service will be offered for those who call in to be picked up at docks or seawalls between stops along the ICW. No service will be available down finger isles for now, which could delay the scheduled service route.

Fishing Pier

  • Demolition is underway for new pier construction
  • Pier site is closed from May 22, 2017 to January 2019
  • Pompano Beach Blvd is now closed betwen NE 2 and NE’3. Streets until Thanksgiving Original bridge opened in 1964 and was designed Wast 50 years.
  • The new pier will don plaques “circa March 1964” when the pier officially opened, and “circa 2019” when the new replacement pier is opened.

Briney Avenue Improvements

  • Beach road from Atlantic Blvd to SE 8th Street
  • Completion August 2017
  • Enhancements include: Decorative street lighting (utilities underground)
    • Colorful “mosaic” patterns on street
    • Potted plantings
    • Improvements to beach entries at 2nd, 4th, 6th, and 8th Streets


New Hotels

  • Hampton Inn: 900 S. Federal Hwy Opening soon (Reservations says July 11) 102 rooms
  • Residence Inn by Marriott: Centerport Business Park Opens: June 2017 112 Rooms

Pompano Fishing Village

  • Six acres under roof, Square Feet: 48,500
  • Hilton Tru & Home 2 Suites (one building wing each) Opens: goal is mid 2019 Rooms: 150 total Limited facilities, no full-service restaurant Pool above hotel entry portico
  • Hilton Tru runs east and parallel to AIA Contemporary mid-scale hotel rooms, light breakfast buffet, 24-hour snack bar
  • Hilton Home 2 Suites faces south parallel to Pier streets Mid-scale all-suite extended stay hotel with kitchen and refrigerator, combo laundry and fitness facility

New Restaurants
Pompano Beach House (and rooftop bar) — casual for steaks, chops, burgers and salads (to be operated by same people as Grille 401 on Las Olas)

  • On the sand just north of the Pier Opens: around this Thanksgiving
  • Style: Nautical Key-West style
  • Capacity: Around 200, 2 stories with outdoor terrace on East side
  • Size: 6,700 square feet
  • Facilities: Banquet room on second floor with ocean views

Shipwreck Park
After last July’s successful sinking of the 324-foot Lady Luck in 120-feet of water just one mile off the coast of Pompano, the not-for-profit Shipwreck Park, Inc. is preparing for a second sinking to further its mission as an underwater cultural arts and eco park. Lady Luck is the centerpiece of Shipwreck Park, surrounded by 16 older wrecks that make up this significant artificial reef system.

Now introducing the 107-foot Okinawa, being cleaned up and prepped now for a possible sinking late this summer. This vintage tugboat was built for the Army in 1953. It slept 16 people and was in service until 2001, when it was purchased by United Dredging Company for its purposes and then recently sold to Shipwreck Park, Inc. Plans are to bedeck her in underwater artwork and then sink her in 60-feet of water just one-half mile offshore. She will be easily accessible to divers of all skill levels as well as snorkelers.

GREAT NEWS!!!! VISIT FLORIDA will receive full funding after a four-month battle, but not without conditions. The Florida Legislature has approved a $76 million budget for the state’s tourism promotion agency – the same as in fiscal 2017. While it is below the $100 million proposed by the governor, it is well above the $26 million first approved by the legislature. The final budget deal imposes new rules that allow the legislature to review any contract over $750,000 and which require all public money for the organization be matched one-to-one by private contributions.

It’s a Never-Ending Event Parade in Pompano Beach

pompano beach events baca

Although your beautiful new condo at Sabbia Beach might give you the feeling of living on a deserted tropical island, you are in fact at the center of myriad cultural and artistic events.

Here’s a sample of what’s happening this month in and around Pompano Beach, Florida.

Bailey Contemporary Arts (BaCA) is a veritable hotbed of contemporary art and performance nestled unassumingly in the Pompano Beach community. For example, every Wednesday, you’ll be able to nourish your creative side when you bring your own lunch or pick up a little nosh at their in-house café and settle in for an hour in galleries among the art and artists. Lunch with Art features something different and captivating each week, whether special guest-artist speakers, simple hands-on activities, or just an inspiring lunch backed by music and art. Blooming Bean Coffee Company serves up freshly brewed, locally roasted coffees, along with sweet and savory baked goods like empanadas, scones, and cookies. Call in the morning (954-295-2225) to see what’s on the menu. Lunch with Art is free, and Wi-Fi is available. At BaCA, 41 NE 1st Street.

Richard “Byrd” Wilson, an award-winning poet and public speaker, will host one of his bi-monthly writing workshops on June 21 at BaCA, 41 NE Street, from 7-8 p.m. Every first and third Wednesday of the month, Wilson’s popular “Fresh Air with Byrd” classes assists all levels of writers and performers to improve their craft in conjunction with Lyrics Lab. Tickets are $15 and are available through pre-registration at Eventbrite or by calling (954) 786-7824.

Also on June 21, the critically acclaimed Lyrics Lab presents its program of the area’s best spoken-word and musical artists, open to all, including beginners. Held from 8 to 11 p.m. at BaCA, 41 NE Street, you will be inspired, moved, and motivated by the performances of these talented artists. Live music accompanies all performances, and cocktails and refreshments are available for purchase. Pre-register at Eventbrite or phone (954) 786-7824.

June 22 features the popular Ali Jam Sessions, hosted by Eccentrich Displays. All levels of singers, musicians, and poets are welcome to take center stage on the fourth Thursday of every month to jam alongside the special guest band of the month, which in June is Juggernaut Music. The house band Ellison Kendrick and the Black Suit Band are in residence at Historic Ali Cultural Arts, 353 Martin Luther King Boulevard. Tickets are $10.

June 22 and again June 29 are the days to explore the BaCA exhibits on the weekly tour led by acclaimed curator Terry Davis. Tour with Terry will take you on an exciting journey through the minds of the BaCA artists, as Davis leads you through the emotional impact of each creation every Thursday from 2-3 p.m. His extensive insight provides an interesting, interactive, and entertaining experience as you trail along, coffee from the café in hand, while he opens to you a whole new way of looking at art. With 40 years’ experience curating exhibits in New York, Los Angeles, Washington, D.C., Miami, Paris, Cannes, and Tokyo, he’s sure to bring a fresh perspective to art you thought you knew. Blooming Bean Coffee Company provides the brew, along with light, sweet and savory bites. Call daily to find out what freshly baked goods are on the menu (954-295-2225). Pre-registration is available on Eventbrite.

Also on June 22, at Historic Ali Cultural Arts, the works of La’Vaughn (aka Eddie Wright) will be presented in an exhibit-closing reception from 6-10 p.m. La’Vaughn is an abstract expressionist whose work can best be described as eclectic—not following one style of art, but selecting and using the elements derived from a wide range of styles. He attended the Broward County school system graduating valedictorian, and later received his BFA from Florida Atlantic University. He has worked in the art field as an artist, designer, and consultant. The exhibit will close permanently on June 27.

On June 23 and June 30, and every Friday, you’ll want to explore your inner artist by sketching a painting a live model at BaCA from 10:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. This is your own effort: no instructor will be there. Cost is $10. Call (954) 284-0141 ahead of time, as spaces and easels are limited.

For you lovers of every shade of pink, you won’t want to miss Lisa Rockford’s BaCA lecture from 1-3 p.m. on June 24. She will outline the permeation of the color pink into Western culture, and highlight examples of the use of pink by historic, global, and contemporary professional artists. The lecture will be followed by a panel discussion with four artists from the exhibition.

Sea Turtles Snuggle Near Pompano Beach

Sea Turtles Pompano Beach

After nearing extinction, sea turtles are making a comeback, thanks to concerted conservation efforts, including by the designers of Sabbia Beach.

While you may not be able to see them on the natural unspoiled beach that fronts the ultra-luxurious condominiums of Sabbia Beach, don’t be discouraged just yet. 90% of sea turtle nests can be found in Florida, and the stretch of Atlantic coastline from the Space Coast to the Gold Coast represents the second most-important nesting area in the world for loggerhead sea turtles. If you do happen on a sea turtle laying her eggs, just remember not to get too close or shine any lights on her—she may not lay her eggs or camouflage them properly afterward.
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For Nature, Peace, and Insight Into Another Culture, Visit the Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens

morikami museum

In 1904, Jo Sakai was graduated from New York University, and returned to his homeland of Miyazu, Japan, with a dream to recruit Japanese farmers to form an agricultural colony in Florida. The colony foundered, and most of the original farmers returned to Japan. One remained, however, and created a successful pineapple plantation. In the mid-1970s, that successful businessman, George Sukeji Morikami, donated his land in Delray Beach, asking that it be used to memorialize the Yamoto Colony, and serve as a bridge between his two homelands. (Yamoto is the ancient word for Japan.)

The result is 200 acres of serene beauty that takes visitors through 100 years of Japanese garden traditions, just a half-hour drive from the ultra-luxurious residences of Sabbia Beach condominiums. The only such venue of its kind in the United States, the Museum opened in 1977, with construction of the Roji-en gardens beginning in 1993.

The six gardens comprising Roji-en (The Garden of the Drops of Dew) take visitors back in time to the various garden styles that became popular throughout Japan’s history. They feature the Shinden Garden style with its emphasis on lakes and islands, meant to be viewed by boat; the Paradise Gardens, which were meant as a tribute to Buddha and represent the Buddhist heaven; the Early Rock Garden, with its Zen-influenced careful placement of rocks; the Karesansui Gardens which epitomize the contemplative style of Zen, offering visitors the opportunity to meditate on the garden’s design; and the style most familiar to Westerners, the Hiraniwa Flat Garden, with its pagodas, lanterns, and stepping stones.

The park section is dedicated to the preservation of Japanese culture, and offers such enticing features as waterfalls, a koi pond, and a large bonsai collection, and includes a specimen dating back to the 1600s.

The main museum building, opened in 1993, houses a tea house, classrooms, a theater, and three permanent exhibits, as well as the award-winning Cornell Cafe and Morikami Museum Store. The Morikami also offers cultural programs for adults, children, and educators, and rotating exhibits and permanent collections meant to evoke the culture of Japan.

Visitors describe the experience as tranquil, calming, and a lush oasis in the heart of Florida. People often schedule their wedding photos here, against the backdrop of bamboo, flowers, and flowing streams.

Closed Mondays and most major holidays, the Morikami is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesdays through Sundays. It has a private parking lot and bike parking, and is wheelchair-accessible. Admission is $15 for adults, $13 for seniors, and $9 for children.