The Real Deal Miami

Bahia Mar’s revamp met with opposition in the wee hours

Requested rezoning would allow two 39-story condo towers

February 03, 2016 12:00PM
By Mike Seemuth

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Bahia Mar Fort Lauderdale Beach

Bahia Mar Fort Lauderdale Beach

After hours of discussion amid opposition from residents, the Fort Lauderdale City Commission unanimously delayed action on a proposed rezoning of the Bahia Mar hotel and marina that would allow for construction of the tallest condo buildings on Fort Lauderdale Beach.

In a marathon overnight meeting that lasted until after 4 a.m., city commissioners voted to continue discussion of the rezoning proposal at their March 1 meeting.

The commissioners also voted unanimously to consider on April 5 a proposed 100-year city lease on the 39-acre Bahia Mar property to Rahn Bahia Mar LLC, a developer group that includes Jimmy Tate and Sergio Rok, that acquired the existing lease on the property.

“The scale is over the top, as far as I’m concerned.” — Commissioner Romney Rogers 
More than half of the citizens who spoke at the city commission meeting opposed the rezoning proposal, which would allow the developer of the Bahia Mar property to build two 39-story condo towers there. Current zoning allows residential buildings up to 24 stories.

“I have some issues with the height,” said Fort Lauderdale Mayor John Seiler, echoing comments by other members of the city commission about the proposed condo developments. But “I would hate to see a couple of bulky 24-story buildings.”

“The [condo] towers themselves overwhelm the hotel,” said City Commissioner Romney Rogers. “The scale is over the top, as far as I’m concerned.” The hotel itself, however, is “a tired property that needs to be updated.”

Rendering of proposed Bahia Mar redevelopment

Rendering of proposed Bahia Mar redevelopment

Besides condo development, the investor group with a lease on Bahia Mar also plans to thoroughly renovate the Bahia Mar hotel and to build a parking garage that annually would convert to exhibition space for the Fort Lauderdale International Boat show.

Individuals who spoke in favor of the Bahia Mar redevelopment at the city commission meeting include real estate investor Dev Motwani and Bob Swindell, president of the Greater Fort Lauderdale Alliance.

The city commission meeting began at 6 p.m. Tuesday and ended at 4:15 a.m. Wednesday after about 80 people commented publicly on the proposed rezoning, mostly in opposition.

Many opponents said they were concerned about increased automotive traffic arising from the Bahia Mar redevelopment, which would encompass restaurants and a supermarket.

“Those are the pieces of the property,” together with condo units, “where the developer makes money on the development,” said attorney Robert Lochrie, who represents Rahn Bahia Mar LLC.