Five Reasons Marina Lofts Should Be Nixed (And the Rain Tree Saved)
3. Fort Lauderdale doesn't need any more apartment buildings -- especially in the quaint neighborhood.
Cymbal has said that units will start as "low" as $1,100 -- that must be for a studio, since floor plans show studios to three-bedroom layouts. Critics say that the neighborhood doesn't have the infrastructure to deal with traffic from 960 apartments and that the tall buildings will plunge the area into shadows. It doesn't take a census to see that there are plenty of apartments for rent in Fort Lauderdale and that Marina Lofts is not necessary. You could look at Craigslist or drive by the Waverly on any given evening and see how many lights are on. Cal Deal found that the Nu River Landing apartments still have dirt floors where retail was promised seven years ago.
2. There are still questions for Asi Cymbal.
Cymbal came up in the New York real estate world under developer Shayla Boymelgreen and was a good talker even then. But Boymelgreen later faced multiple lawsuits for shoddy construction and disappeared. Cymbal, for the most part, managed to escape being associated with those failures and instead landed good press about how he'd grown up poor in Coney Island and made himself into a rich developer bro, investing in cool Miami restaurants and clubs and turning a sweet multimillion-dollar profit on some of his investments.
But critic Steve Sticht says he combed through Cymbal's portfolio and drove to building sites, only to find mostly incomplete projects. He worried Cymbal could push the project through the permitting stages, then sell it to another developer before it's built, thus nullifying any promises he makes -- like, say, low rents. In the past, New Times contacted Cymbal to ask him about these concerns, but he did not respond. It seemed he was meeting only with people who didn't ask tough questions
As we've seen, the city isn't always thorough about vetting companies.
1. The project is hideous-looking.
Yes, Bjarke Ingels is a superstar; yes, his excitement is infectious; and yes, his firm has executed some amazing projects around the world. Asi Cymbal has been involved in trendy projects too, has kept a cool head in the face of adversity, and may indeed be a lovely guy in person. It's easy to see why the business community has a crush on them.
But just because they keep blathering about "iconic architecture" coming to Fort Lauderdale doesn't mean that this is it. Marina Lofts is downright fugly. The emperor wears no clothes!
The fact that it looks like it's torn and opens up to create a tunnel to the water -- that's innovative idea, for sure, but not a pretty one. This blocky design looks like it might fit in a concrete jungle like Berlin or Moscow, maybe -- but not a cozy green Fort Lauderdale neighborhood. Ingels has done innovative, sustainable designs -- like his house with gardens on the roof or a ski slope/waste incinerator -- so why couldn't he have designed a project that left the rain tree where it was and incorporated it? (He could have taken inspiration from these guys.) It's like Ingels saved all his good ideas for real cities and all we got was a big, post-apocalyptic box. Cymbal should demand a refund.
There is already a big concrete monstrosity on the water -- it's called Riverfront. The developers keep talking about "connecting Riverwalk"... but nobody wants to go to Riverwalk!!! [[Correction: Riverfront is a mostly abandoned shopping complex along the Riverwalk. The Riverwalk district also includes the Stranahan House, the Fort Lauderdale History Society, the Broward Center, and Cinema Paradiso. So maybe some people want to go to Riverwalk.]] Farmers' markets and bicyclists cruising around Marina Lofts as though it's Copenhagen is a sweet, idyllic fantasy -- but it's hard to imagine that really happening in our car-centric culture and in this tricky-to-access neighborhood.
For visual offensiveness alone, Marina Lofts should be nixed -- even if there were no beautiful old tree in the way.