End of an Era in Hollywood – or Beginning of a New One?
Hollywood City Commissioners recently gave preliminary approval for the development of 654 new homes on Hillcrest’s iconic golf course (my favorite golf course). The development would be built in 2 phases. Phase 1 would consist of 256 townhomes and 238 detached single family homes in a community to be constructed on the 18-hole championship golf course. Phase 2 would consist of 84 townhomes and 67 detached single family homes on the long since closed 9-hole executive course.
Hillcrest was originally developed in the early 1960’s by developer Ben Tobin and was one of the first golf course/condominium communities (along with Hollybrook in the new Pembroke Pines) in Broward County. It consists of 4 and 5 story “low rise” buildings and 10-12 story “high rise” buildings. In addition to the golf courses, the community originally had a bath and tennis club which many Hollywood families belonged to in the days before back yard swimming pools were “standard” features (in fact, I learned to swim at Hillcrest). Later, a community center was added, the Paladium, which served as an entertainment center for residents. Just 2 years ago, the city commission approved the conversion of the Paladium into a Charter School beginning Hillcrest’s conversion to a more family oriented community.
Hillcrest’s roots were as a very popular community for northeastern snowbirds. Later, it became a haven for French Canadians as their winter home, particularly in the low rise buildings. The community has added rental units over the years and remains well maintained.
The golf course deteriorated over the years and in the early 90’s it was sold to a Japanese company who promised to restore the course to its original glory. Some money was spent, but the changes were cosmetic. When the Diplomat Hotel and Country Club were purchased and rebuilt in the mid-90’s, the Plumbers Union realized that their club could not meet their guests’ needs and purchased Hillcrest. Finally, needed renovations were made and Hillcrest became a great course again. The executive course was closed for future development, but plans were never approved.
The golf course has changed hands several times and development plans have floated for years. The new plan will attract young families to Hillcrest which is, in essence, a senior community. Many of the condos are certified 55+. Hollywood has been adding high end condominiums on the beach over the last few years and there is a luxury home development breaking ground on the north end of town. This project is likely to be priced to be more affordable for working class and younger families, something Hollywood has not been able to target for several years.
So, while an iconic golf course will no longer exist and the tenor of the original condo community in Broward County will change, a new era will begin. Cheers to Hollywood.