After a contentious discussion, the Fort Lauderdale City Commission voted once again on Tuesday to defer an application from Galleria Mall owner Keystone-Florida Property Holding Corp. to allow for major development surrounding the shopping center.
The application — a plat (or division of parcel of land) request — is a necessary step in a complicated development plan that proposes to wrap the upscale shopping mall at 2414 East Sunrise Boulevard in seven residential towers with a total of 1,250 new units.
The commission said it would take up the application at its June 6 meeting if Keystone-Florida can hammer out an agreement with city staff and neighborhood residents by May 16 — a possibility that could be increasingly unlikely as patience with the proposal wanes.
Members of the community rose Tuesday night to express exasperation with the proposal, which has been plagued by false starts and delays in the three-and-a-half years since the plan was first introduced.
“They shouldn’t constantly continue, continue, continue until everybody is so worn out that at six o’clock in the morning we’ve put up another Empire State Building on 17th Street with no parking,” said Count LF Chodkiewicz Chudzikiewicz, a frequent speaker at Fort Lauderdale commission meetings.
Chief among the community’s concerns is the proposed height of the new buildings, with neighbors demanding a maximum of 15 stories and the developers firmly set on building three towers with at least 24 floors.
“They’re so far apart it’s like night and day,” said Commissioner Bruce Roberts, whose district includes the mall, anchored by Macy’s, Neiman Marcus and Dillard’s. “I think we’ve come to, quite frankly, the end of the road of these discussions.”
When Roberts introduced a resolution to deny the application, Keystone-Florida attorney Courtney Crush tried to talk him down.
“None of us would be wasting this commission’s time or our neighbors’ time if we were not discussing how we can circle back with our neighbors,” said Crush.
But Roberts was unmoved. “There’s no end in sight and no substantial movement on the part of the applicant to address the concerns of the neighborhood,” he said.
Crush’s co-counsel, Stephen Tilbrook, offered to withdraw the plat application entirely if it would “relieve the tension that’s in the room,” but the commission ultimately decided to give Keystone-Florida another shot, stipulating that they’d need to get community support, and fast.
“Without the neighborhoods coming to us and saying they’re comfortable with it,” said Mayor Jack Seiler, “this thing is not going anywhere.”