Fort Lauderdale rejects Trammell Crow’s Alexan-Tarpon River project

Developer could potentially appeal the decision in court

Alexan-Tarpon River (inset) and Trammell Crow’s Jim Berardinelli
Alexan-Tarpon River (inset) and Trammell Crow’s Jim Berardinelli

Trammell Crow Residential’s proposed Alexan-Tarpon River residential tower in downtown Fort Lauderdale was just shot down by the city commission.

The Fort Lauderdale City Commission Tuesday night voted 3-2 to deny the site plan approval needed for the developer to move forward with its proposed project at 501 Southeast Sixth Avenue. The plan originally called for a 21-story, 181-unit apartment tower designed by architecture firm Stantec.

The proposed project received preliminary approval by the city’s development review committee. But it was faced by sharp criticism for its height and design from three newly elected city commissioners, who ran “smart growth” platforms favoring less overdevelopment.

Mayor Dean Trantalis, Vice Mayor Ben Sorensen and commissioner Steve Glassman all voted to deny the site plan. Heather Moraitis, the fourth new commissioner, and Robert McKinzie supported the development.

Prior to the commission’s vote, Trammell Crow Residential promised to redesign the project and reduce the number of units to at least 120.

Instead, the developer, represented by attorney William Spencer, reverted back to its original 21-story, 181-unit plan. In an earlier attempt to buffer some of the project’s opposition, the Trammell Crow had slashed Alexan-Tarpon River’s building height by seven stories to a 14-story building.

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Spencer said the developer took a “hard look” at whether what was being suggested was doable, and concluded that adhering to those amendments would not “play out” after conducting an economic study.

“You have the staff comments that similarly believe this is the best product,” Spencer said of the original plan. “We would not down-zone just to simply try to get an approval.”

Trammell Crow Residential affiliate Maple Multi-Family Development, LLC could now potentially appeal the decision in court. Trammell Crow’s Jim Berardinelli and Spencer did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Commissioner Glassman said he does not believe the project adheres to the city’s master plan nor its development and building codes. Mayor Dean Trantalis and Vice Mayor Ben Sorensen said they were disappointed the developer couldn’t reach a compromise.

“We’re back in the beginning,” Trantalis said, “despite some of our efforts to try to get some middle ground.”