The Real Deal Miami

Neighbors rush to block Key International’s hotel project in Fort Lauderdale Beach

Residents filed petition to force a ruling on historic designation

July 29, 2016 12:45PM

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The apartments at 3017 Alhambra Street, left, and a rendering of the approved AC Hotel by Marriott

The apartments at 3017 Alhambra Street, left, and a rendering of the approved AC Hotel by Marriott

With the close of a needed land purchase and city approvals in the bag, Key International looked like it had smooth sailing ahead for the development of a Marriott-branded hotel in Fort Lauderdale Beach.

But a new roadblock has emerged: neighbors of the development site have rushed to block the Miami developer from demolishing a mid-century building.

Two Fort Lauderdale Beach residents who live near Key International’s development site have launched a last-ditch effort to save the building from the developer’s wrecking ball, according to the Broward-Palm Beach New Times.

Charlie Esposito and Erika Klee have filed an emergency injunction to force a ruling from city commissioners on whether the buildings are historic, which could protect them from being razed.

The building in question is 3017 Alhambra Street, which Key International purchased as part of a three-parcel assemblage this month for $9.6 million. Known as the Villa Torino, the property is a tiny five-unit apartment building that measures only 2,820 square feet.

Miami-based Key International took OTO Development’s place in the purchase contract after OTO had finished securing approvals for a 10-story hotel on the land with 175 rooms.

According to the New Times, Esposito and Klee have been lobbying for a historic designation on the properties since early 2015 when the developers first announced their plans. The two filed a petition last August hoping to overturn city commissioner’s rejection of the building’s historic status in July 2015, but the issue stagnated for months.

Now, the two hope their injunction will bring the city’s attention to the issue.

“We’re just outgunned here,” Esposito told the New Times. “It’s as if the city’s laws were designed for the developers trying to make Fort Lauderdale look more like Miami.”

Another party in this story hasn’t exactly kept quiet, though. According to Broward County records, TC Ventures — part of group that sold the land to Key International — sued both Esposito and Klee around the same time they filed their petition, alleging the two were abusing the historic designation process in an attempt to block any development on Alhambra Street. [Broward-Palm Beach New Times]Sean Stewart-Muniz