Riverfront land use amendment for multifamily project faces uphill battle in Fort Lauderdale

Proposed multifamily development
Proposed multifamily development

A land use amendment proposed by Whiddon Family LLC that seeks to re-zone a 12.5-acre stretch to allow for up to 216 housing units met with opposition Tuesday.

The amendment would increase the allowable units from 100 currently allowed under zoning regulations. At the moment, the site holds nine single-family residences.

Fort Lauderdale’s Urban Design and Planning Manager Ella Parker began Tuesday’s development review committee meeting by apologizing for not having arranged for more chairs.

The development review committee meeting

“I’m not sure we’ve ever had the room this full,” Parker said, as more than 30 members of the public, many of whom identified themselves as residents of the Rio Nuevo and River Reach condominiums, crowded around a conference table at the Greg Brewton Sustainable Development Center. 

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Located along the north side of Davie Boulevard between the New River’s south fork and Southwest 9th Avenue, the land consists of parcels owned by members of the Whiddon family, the owners of Causeway Lumber Company, and a residential property owned by Laurel A. Jelstrom.

Project Architect Jiro Yates of Falkanger Snyder Martineau & Yates Architects explained the site’s proposal, which includes a series of medium-high density buildings around the northwest corner, stepping down in height to medium density residences on the site’s southeast corner. The site plan itself is subject to change, though it will require a separate review from city staff should the land use amendment pass.

Once city staffers had gone over their routine review of their comment report on Tuesday, the meeting was opened up for questions from the public, many of which centered around the traffic impact. A study submitted as part of the application found less than a 3 percent impact on area traffic based on current zoning, but one neighborhood resident noted that the current regulations allow for well over the actual density and claimed that traffic is already an issue in the area. “There’s an awful lot of 10 pounds of stuff in a five-pound bag,” she said.

The applicants will need to clear that traffic study’s methodology with members of the Transportation and Mobility Department before the proposal can move on to the next step, a public participation meeting with the Tarpon River Civic Association. At that point, the proposal will be subject to votes from both the Fort Lauderdale Planning and Zoning Board and the city commission.