Restaurateurs plan condos, hotel, eateries on Fort Lauderdale beachfront
Aiton “AJ” Yaari and Lior Avidor assembled 5-acre development site over 32 years
Fort Lauderdale restaurateurs Aiton “AJ” Yaari and Lior Avidor want to develop a mixed-use project on a 5-acre oceanfront site in Fort Lauderdale.
Yaari and Avidor plan a condominium, hotel, retail and restaurants on their assemblage spanning nearly two full blocks from Poinsettia Street south to East Las Olas Boulevard, and from A1A east to the beach, Yaari told The Real Deal. They plan to add Uber and Lyft drop-off and pick-up stations, public restrooms, open spaces and garages.
The properties house several popular Fort Lauderdale venues such as restaurants Spazio and Solluna, Blondies Sports Bar, Rock Bar and Cafe Ibiza. Yaari and Avidor founded and run the businesses through their It’s Better on the Beach hospitality firm.
The Elbo Room, which opened in 1938 and isn’t owned by Yaari and Avidor, is on the southernmost corner of the site. The bar and other venues on the site will remain.
“No one is going, ‘Bye, bye’” Yaari said. “But eventually, it’s going to be modernized.”
Project details are yet to be hammered out, including building heights and the number of condos and hotel keys. The pair have hired Kobi Karp to design the project. They expect to bring plans to the city’s Development Review Committee this summer.
Yaari and Avidor say they want to bring Fort Lauderdale’s beachfront back to its heyday. The pair are Israeli emigres who have called South Florida home for over three decades.
“I want to bring back a lot of the locals,” Yaari said. “If you look back historically, this block was what put Fort Lauderdale on the map. People used to come here for Spring Break.”
This week, a Yaari and Avidor affiliate scored a $45 million loan from City National Bank of Florida, records show. The mortgage refinanced seller’s financing Yaari and Avidor obtained about two years ago when they purchased the last portion of their assemblage, said Tom Angelo, the attorney who represented the developers in securing the refinancing.
The planned project marks a major step forward for Yaari and Avidor. They have been assembling the development site for about 32 years, Yaari said. As the pair opened their businesses on the block, they started buying out their landlords over the years.
Records show they have paid at least a total of $107.5 million for the lots since 2004. The real price is higher because Yaari and Avidor bought some of the properties by acquiring the interest in the limited liability companies that own the lots, meaning deeds were not recorded.
In one of the bigger deals, Yaari and Avidor paid $32 million in 2017 for a 0.7-acre portion of their assemblage.
Fort Lauderdale’s waterfront areas have caught developers’ eyes in recent years. Kolter Urban is developing the pair of oceanfront Selene Oceanfront Residences condo towers with 194 units combined at 3000 Alhambra Street. Rising 26 stories, the project will be the tallest along the city’s oceanfront.
On the site of the annual Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show, the Pérez family’s Related Group, Jimmy Tate’s Tate Capital and Sergio Rok’s Rok Enterprises plan the $1 billion-plus Bahia Mar mixed-use development. The master plan for the project at 801 Seabreeze Boulevard calls for a branded resort with condos, four residential towers, commercial space and a mega-yacht marina.