Naftali wins approval for 936-unit apartment project in Fort Lauderdale

New York-based developer won site plan approval for its two-tower, 47-story and 45-story development, despite objections from the owner of nearby Dalmar hotel

Naftali Advances 936-Unit Rental Project in Fort Lauderdale
Naftali Group founder Miki Naftali; rendering of 936-unit apartment project in Fort Lauderdale (ARQUITECTONICA, Getty, naftaligroup)

New York-based Naftali Group won site plan approval for a two-tower, 47-story and 45-story apartment development with 936 units near downtown Fort Lauderdale, despite objections from the owner of an adjacent hotel.

The Fort Lauderdale City Commission on Tuesday voted 4-1 for the site plan proposed by Naftali, after the owner of the Dalmar hotel complained the apartment development would block views of the city’s downtown skyline.

“Are view corridors protected by code? No. We can’t even go there,” said commissioner Steven Glassman, who voted to approve Naftali’s site plan. Commissioner Warren Sturman cast the sole vote against the plan.

Opened in 2019, the Dalmar at 299 North Federal Highway is just north of Naftali’s 1.4-acre development site at 201 North Federal Highway in the Flagler Village area near downtown Fort Lauderdale. Naftali’s mixed-use building is designed with 5,569 square feet of commercial space.

The city commission approved the site plan with deviations from design standards in Fort Lauderdale’s master plan for downtown development. The length of the planned apartment building and the size of its floor plates exceed the maximum amounts set by the master plan.

“They’re not just bending the rules, but rewriting them at the Dalmar’s expense,” Jake Wurzak, president of Philadelphia-based Wurzak Hotel Group, the Dalmar’s owner, told city commissioners at the meeting.

“Their increase in the floor plates blocks our view, blocks our sunlight, blocks fresh air. It’s terrible,” Wurzak said. “The proposed development by Naftali Group at 201 North Federal isn’t just another building. It is a looming shadow over the Dalmar.”

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The apartment building’s design is 399 feet long along Northeast Second Street, compared to the standard maximum of 300 feet, and floor plates above the 10th floor would measure 13,844 square feet, compared to the standard maximum of 12,500 square feet.

“Why do they want to increase the floor plates? Well, by our calculation, they get another 220 units,” Wurzak said. “How does that benefit the city of Fort Lauderdale? These are market-rate apartments. Is that going to help employees of my hotel find a place to live? I don’t think so.”

Naftali, led by Chairman and CEO Miki Naftali, agreed to put $9.3 million in the city’s affordable housing fund instead of charging below-market rents for some of the apartments in its planned rental development.

The planned height of the project is 47 stories in the west tower and 45 stories in the east tower. The only limits on building height in the area encompassing Naftali’s development site are those set by the Federal Aviation Administration.

Naftali’s site is in an area where the city commission changed development design standards by adopting a downtown master plan of development in 2022, three years after the Dalmar opened.

The master plan changed the maximum building height at Naftali’s site from 30 stories to any limit set by the FAA, and the maximum building podium height from seven stories to nine, said Christopher Cooper, director of Fort Lauderdale’s department of development services.