Mill Creek Residential is planning a 250-unit multifamily project with 10,000 square feet of retail in Plantation, and is seeking city approval for the development.
The Motwani family, known for its upscale developments in downtown Fort Lauderdale and Fort Lauderdale Beach, currently owns the land where Mill Creek Plantation is slated to be built. The Quality Inn Sawgrass Conference Center and a Holiday Inn Express currently occupy the 12.24-acre site at 1711 North University Drive. If the apartment complex is approved, the conference center would be torn down to make way for the development.
The developers’ choice of using commercially-designated land for a residential project “is market-driven,” said Peter Dokuchitz, principal planner for the city of Plantation. “The banks today are lending to multi-family and mixed-use developers, rather than office developers,” he said.
“If developers do mixed-use, they can have flex units and commercial space together,” Dokuchitz said. Flex, or reserve, units are ‘bonus” residential units that the city can allocate to commercial properties for residential use, he said. In the case of Mill Creek Plantation, the project would be considered mixed-use due to retail space and the hotel that would be left standing after the apartment units are built.
The Mill Creek Plantation site (where the Quality Inn Sawgrass Conference Center sits) has about eight acres and could request a maximum of 125 flex units, according to Gayle Easterling, senior planner in Plantation’s department of planning, zoning and economic development. “The Holiday Inn Express site has five acres and could also request 125 flex units,” she added. “By unifying the two sites, a total of 250 units can be requested and can be developed solely on the Mill Creek site without requiring redevelopment of the Holiday Inn Express site.”
In Plantation today, according to Dokuchitz, commercial land is “under stress because developers want to do apartments.” Only 10 percent of the land in the city is occupied by commercial development, he said.
With residential development, there is more intensive use of public services, such as water and sewer and schools, that must be provided by the city and county,” he said. “If you have too much of a bedroom community, it could become expensive [to run the city]. If you have a healthy business base, you don’t have to rely so much on residential” taxes, Dukuchitz said.
Orin Rosenfeld, president of Rosenfeld Realty Advisors, said he is in favor of Mill Creek Plantation. He also points out that two formerly dormant large business sites are being revitalized in the city. Magic Leap, an entertainment-technology developer that is funded by major players like Google, is in the process of moving part of its operation into a 260,000-square-foot-space at 8000 West Sunrise, formerly home to Motorola Mobility in Plantation, Rosenfeld said. Also, the 321 North project at the former Fashion Mall site, which will be mixed-use with residential, retail and office, “is finally being redeveloped after 10 years,” he said.
“University Drive is like Main Street in Plantation,” and new multifamily development there makes sense, Rosenfeld said. Even if the project doesn’t get approved on its first try, he thinks it will eventually be approved as a smaller project.
Mill Creek Plantation will go before the city planning board on May 3rd, Dokuchitz said. The city council will probably take it up in June or July, he said.
In Plantation, Mill Creek Residential is also planning to build a 300-unit multifamily development at the 58-acre Cornerstone Corporate Center at 1240 South Pine Island Road.