No skyscrapers in new Bahia Mar redevelopment plans

Published by Sun Sentinel, March 29, 2017. Read the full article.

Developer Jimmy Tate’s revised plans, submitted to city officials late Wednesday afternoon, call for the buildings to be 10 to 12 stories, according to Kobi Karp, a Miami-based architect and representative for Tate.

A new vision for the Bahia Mar resort and marina includes 651 residential units in seven buildings and a 250-room hotel — but none of the skyscrapers that drew the ire of Fort Lauderdale residents and city commissioners last year.

Developer Jimmy Tate’s revised plans, submitted to city officials late Wednesday afternoon, call for the buildings to be 10 to 12 stories, according to Kobi Karp, a Miami-based architect and representative for Tate.

The proposal also includes 151,000 square feet of ground-floor shops and restaurants, a half-mile boardwalk surrounding the marina and a pedestrian village on the city-owned property south of Las Olas Boulevard.

“I believe that this plan meets the designs and wishes expressed previously,” Karp said. “We would like to find a way to work with the city and the community.”

Karp said the developer hasn’t decided whether the 651 units would be condominiums or apartments. He said the project would be built in four phases over several years.

Tate’s original plan last year included two 39-story condo towers, which city commissioners rejected in February.

Another plan submitted last summer reduced the height of the two condo towers to 29 stories.

That proposal received initial approval from commissioners, but Tate later withdrew it in the face of increasing public opposition and his inability to strike a deal with the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show and its operator, Show Management.

The boat show lease at Bahia Mar runs through 2020. Tate and boat show officials are expected to work on a longer-term lease.

Mayor Jack Seiler hasn’t reviewed the new plan, but he insisted it will be appropriately “vetted, digested and analyzed” by the city.

Seiler said he wants any Bahia Mar redevelopment to address four issues.

The site has to be functional enough to serve as the permanent home of the boat show, Seiler said. The mayor also wants to see more revenue for the city, a workable plan for traffic and parking, and a redevelopment that brings more people to the waterfront.

“I’m fairly confident that this [developer] group will come to an understanding with the city on those four points,” Seiler said. “For the average family who wants to spend a Saturday or Sunday along the water, Bahia Mar isn’t their first choice, and it won’t be until the property is redone.”
Residents who opposed the previous plans expressed concerns about increased traffic in the city as new developments are built. A petition drive collected more than 1,000 signatures seeking a moratorium on large developments east of Federal Highway until a more complete study of what the city’s roads can handle.

Another petition wanted the commission to stop private development on the public beachfront.

The debates over the future of Bahia Mar grew contentious at times. Tate cited the acrimony in a June 2016 letter to the city withdrawing the second development proposal.

“We have witnessed neighbors turn on neighbors and old friends stop talking to each other; all over a proposed development plan which was designed for the betterment of the entire community and the marine industry,” Tate wrote.

Mary Fertig, a Fort Lauderdale resident who led opposition to the previous plans, said she hasn’t seen the new proposal.
Fertig said she’s in favor of lower building heights but remains concerned about traffic and preservation of public land. Whatever happens at the site, she said she’d like to see a more collaborative discussion take place.

“It’s our hope that everybody in the community can all work together to address the issues,” she said. “That didn’t happen last time.”

Staff writer Larry Barszewski contributed to this report.