Proposed riverfront tower in Fort Lauderdale glides through city design review

Design Review Committee members asked for changes to proposed Cambria Suites Hotel

Jan.January 10, 2017 05:15 PM

The development of a riverfront residential high-rise in Fort Lauderdale with 362 units advanced on Tuesday in a review by the city government’s Design Review Committee.

“It’s a beautiful building,” said committee member Ella Parker, the city’s urban design and planning manager, describing the planned development at 488 Southwest 1st Avenue, called 488 Residences at Riverwalk.

The Design Review Committee is “generally happy” with the design of the project, city planner Randall Robinson said. Developer Jim Ellis is leading the effort to construct the 37-story residential building on the south bank of the New River.

Robinson also said the committee wants more detail on screening for the 363-space parking garage and the design of the roof of the residential tower. He added that the committee wants after-dark renderings of 488 Residences showing how it would appear at night.

DRC requests to alter planned developments are non-binding. Developers submit projects for at least one technically focused DRC review – and sometimes more than one – before applying for a building permit in Fort Lauderdale.

Design Review Committee members are municipal staff from various city departments, including those that oversee urban planning, civil engineering and landscaping.

They spent more time Tuesday in discussions with the developer of a 97-room beachside hotel than with the Ellis-led team behind the riverfront residential project.

Hotel Motel Inc., led by Jai Motwani, is the developer of the planned Cambria Suites Hotel at 2231 North Ocean Boulevard, across the street from the Auberge Beach Residence & Spa Fort Lauderdale condominium development, which is under construction. Three aging hotels now occupy the site that Hotel Motel Inc. plans to develop.

Parker, the city’s urban design and planning manager, criticized the design of a three-window façade on the south side of the planned Cambria Suites Hotel: “That façade seems really blank to us.”

She and other DRC members also urged the developer to create a rooftop attraction instead of barring guests from the top of the hotel. Citing high-rise developments nearby, city planner Lorraine Tappen said the hotel developer should consider “what people are looking down on” the hotel’s rooftop area.

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