When two wealthy brothers from Chicago, Preston A. Wells and John Wells, chose to lay down roots in Ft. Lauderdale in 1931 by purchasing property, neither ever imagined that someday Las Olas Boulevard would become a world-class destination filled with shops, restaurants, and companies doing business around the globe. Their family-owned and operated business, The Las Olas Company, Inc. (originally named The Coast Guard Development Co.), was established with one simple goal—to acquire and rent beach and oceanfront cottages.
But like all good entrepreneurs, the Wells brothers saw a future that no one else could imagine. And in 1935, when the family determined that a hotel would be a great business opportunity, they made plans to build a three-story, 80-room hotel “with baths.” Preston Wells was so impressed by the acumen displayed by Champ Carr, a fishing buddy and friend, that he asked Champ if he would manage the new hotel. Champ accepted, and on December 12, 1936, the new Champ Carr hotel opened on Las Olas Boulevard. But in 1947, Champ Carr stepped down as manager and the property was renamed the Riverside Hotel.
Growth. Preservation. Inspiration.
The opening of the Riverside Hotel was the catalyst that propelled the two brothers to see Las Olas Boulevard as something more than a newly paved, sometimes-boggy patch of land. They had a new vision—to create a Las Olas Boulevard that was a destination in itself—and they developed a deliberate plan to purchase more land and build and lease space along the Boulevard for shops, restaurants, and offices.
Today, The Las Olas Company is the driving force behind the preservation of Las Olas Boulevard’s charm and its Mediterranean village architecture, offering residents and visitors an inviting and inspired Las Olas Experience—combining the area’s best shopping, dining and entertainment, along with exquisite accommodations.
Throughout the 1970’s, the Riverside Hotel continued to attract visitors from around the world, while the Las Olas Arts Festival introduced artists from around the country to residents and visitors to Las Olas Boulevard, creating a time-honored tradition that continues to this day.
The housing boom of the 1980’s brought more visitors to
Las Olas—and more growth.
Despite the development of high-rises throughout Fort Lauderdale and Broward County, Las Olas Boulevard kept its charm and remained a place where people could come for a quiet day or night out. By the 1990’s, more and more businesses made their home here, recognizing the advantages that such a great location could offer.
In 2001, construction crews transported The Las Olas Company office building to a new location and placed the building on stilts to utilize the ground floor as a parking lot. The area adjacent to the office building became the Ceremonial Ring Plaza, offering Riverside Hotel patrons a magical outdoor venue to host weddings, engagements, anniversaries and corporate parties.
Tradition and inspiration share a distinguished address.
As an island in a sea of ultra modern skyscrapers, Las Olas Boulevard offers a taste of Old Florida. And for more than 80 years, The Las Olas Company has inspired the Las Olas Experience, making the Las Olas Boulevard a place where neighbors come out to meet each other, over food and wine, or to shop. A place where professionals conduct business, whether dealing in local services or international markets. A place where travelers from across the globe come to discover the richness of South Florida.
Today’s Las Olas Boulevard is where tradition and inspiration share a distinguished address in the heart of Fort Lauderdale. A quiet, pedestrian-friendly street lined with palms, old-fashioned street lamps and fragrant flora. Charming boutiques and shops filled with silken finery, imported footwear, jewelry, delightful crafts, and sweet treats. Galleries exhibiting paintings and sculptures from some of the country’s most skilled artists. Restaurants and gastropubs with savory cuisine, tasty drinks and lively music. It’s all here in a wonderfully unique gathering place that has become Fort Lauderdale’s #1 destination for shopping, dining, business and hospitality. And for more than 80 years, The Las Olas Company has immersed itself in its history, culture, and commercial success.