Fired Water Taxi Employee Leads "Rain Tree Parade" Against Marina Lofts Project (VIDEO)

Categories: Politics
Moxie Nox
Celebrants at the rain tree site.
Mid-day Sunday, about 75 people showed up near the Pirate Republic bar in Fort Lauderdale, then walked a block to the site of a now-famous rain tree. The six-story-tall, nearly hundred-year-old specimen will be moved if a developer is permitted to build a condominium complex called Marina Lofts on the surrounding property. Protestors hope the city will deny the project or force planners to redesign it so that the tree is neither moved nor harmed.

The "parade" was organized and led by Chris Brennan, a former mate on the Water Taxi, who was fired after making a YouTube video in defense of the tree.

See also:
- Water Taxi Employee Fired for Defending Rain Tree

Participants held signs saying "Stop Marina Lofts" and "Save the Rain Tree." They shared mayor Jack Seiler's phone number (some people called him on the spot and left messages imploring him to vote against the condo development) and gathered for a group photo cheekily in front of a sign for the Water Taxi. After walking to the tree, Brennan gave a quick speech, and fireworks were blasted into the sky.

Developer Asi Cymbal has hired one of the world's trendiest architects, Bjarke Ingels, to design Marina Lofts. It would be a 3-building complex; two buildings would have 28 floors each; a third would have 33 stories. Critics, however, complain that the housing development is not necessary, would bring too much traffic to the quiet neighborhood, and that it threatens the rain tree. Cymbal has pledged to hire some of the world's foremost tree experts to move the tree and to put up a $1 million bond in case the tree dies, but critics still object. Even if Cymbal is well-intentioned, they say, he could sell the project to another, less conscientious developer.

Nick Sakhnovsky, who for 12 years has lived blocks away from the site, noted that the proposed project would be almost double the size of the Esplanade condominium which already exists next to the rain tree. "There will be ten times the traffic," he feared, and noted that trucks often get caught underneath a nearby bridge.

Protestor Art Seitz -- a photographer and city activist -- said of the tree, "This is treasure. It's extraordinary. For a greedy developer to spend a couple hundred thousand on insurance is nothing. It dies, it's gone! He doesn't give a damn about the tree. He wants to build."

The Fort Lauderdale Planning & Zoning Committee meets this Wednesday and, according to its agenda, is expected to set a date for a special hearing about Marina Lofts in early May.  After the Planning & Zoning committeee issues its recommendation, the full city commission will vote on whether to approve the development.

Cymbal did not return a message left Monday morning, and an intermediary said he will not be commenting for this story.

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Shawn Weaver
Shawn Weaver

First off this guy should never been fired and for that i will never advise people to use the water taxi...and ..given the numbers of people that i come into contact with...they will feel it...sorry i didnt make the parade


The Marina Lofts project looks like it will bring jobs to the area and affordable rentals.  The warehouse district for boats does not seem to be too heavily populated (as I read in the article) and I would like to see something happen new on the river that is LEED certified.  I look forward to the project opening and appreciate the fact that the marina will stay in tact, Fort Lauderdale is ready for a sustainable project downtown!  


@nqd3andout One of the many many problems with Ari ( Asef ) Cymbal's proposed marina lofts project is the stately and incredibly beautiful nearly 100 year old  Rain Tree ( the largest in Florida ) on the site, which he wants to attempt to relocate in order to construct high rise apartments that are maybe architecturally  interesting but are also physically ugly. The only people that are confident the tree can safely be relocated are also the people retained by Mr. Cymbal. 

Mr. Cymbal has other projects in the Miami area that are basically nothing more than lots that have been stripped and now sit empty and barren behind fences hidden behind tarps.

When Mr. Cymbal acquired  the property from foreclosure at a reduced value I'm fairly certain that he was aware that the previous owner abandoned his plans to develop the land because of the importance of the tree.

Currently there are other residential/commercial properties in the same vicinity that remain largely unoccupied. As well as a new high rise residential currently under construction mere blocks away.

Mr. Cymbal has stated that he in fact is a "tree hugger" and will do everything in his power to not have the death of the tree mess up his "Karma".

Moving the tree is not in the best interest of the tree. Possibly if he is actually concerned with Karma, he could insure the tree stays where it has grown for many many decades and do a good thing for the city of Fort Lauderdale and donate the land to the people of Fort Lauderdale now and for future Fort Lauderdale generations. Instead of Marina Lofts, why not Cymbal Rain Tree Park Greenbelt?

Cymbal has numerous other projects and maybe he can focus on completing them...

SethPlatt topcommenter

@nqd3andout This comment looks like it was written by someone who stands to profit from this project. You could have at least made a better fake profile dude. If you are getting paid to make this comment I hope it is not much cause you are not doing it well.



Asi ( Asef ) Cymbal


@SethPlatt Seth I would love it if you would learn more about this project, I respect your community involvement. I don't think the best way to "save the tree" is to trim 30' off the canopy and leave it in a construction zone for 18 months where it would be in danger of debris dropping on it and contaminated water. The people marching above what that. I prefer the plan the arborists came up with - move it away from the construction and to a new park. DM me and I'll buy you a beer and we can talk about it. Thanks.


@SethPlatt @nqd3andout 


I will profit by this project when I want to go downtown and not have to dodge crackheads at an empty Riverfront because the owners drove out all of the tenants.  Why are you such a hater on a new project? Your either worried about a tree that you have never seen before or you dont want a "rich" developer in Fort Lauderdale.  I dont care who owns what if there is something cool to go to downtown like a tap 42.  My profile is real and I created it a long time ago, I just dont want creepers looking for me online like yourself because I dont go along with your point of view, which besides a little sarcasm you have provided nothing about the article.    

SethPlatt topcommenter

@nqd3andout@SethPlattYour profile was obviously created only to comment on this article and was poorly veiled as such. Those are the only articles you ahve ever commented on BTW. That was my only comment. I only pointed at your poor social media skills and not anything about the project, however if you would like me to interject. Alow me to do so.

Recently the Global Carbon Dioxide Level has reached 400 Parts Per Million. A dangerous and scary threshold to have surpassed.  Did you know that Rain Trees absorb more carbon dioxide than almost any type of tree on the planet?  This tree is offsetting more carbon that any "green" development could ever hope to achieve.

Poke me again I will be happy to spank you some more.

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