Five Reasons Marina Lofts Should Be Nixed (And the Rain Tree Saved)

Categories: Politics

Marina Lofts 3.jpg
The Fort Lauderdale City Commission will vote tonight on whether to allow a nearly 100-year-old tree to be moved so a developer can build a 960-unit apartment complex called Marina Lofts on the New River. The site is west of the Broward County Jail and the Downtowner saloon, near the Pirate Republic restaurant. The complex has been designed with one 33-story tower and two 28-story towers.

An agenda released last week show that the votes regarding Marina Lofts are the last things scheduled for today's 6 p.m. meeting at City Hall. The agenda item has two parts -- one vote on whether to allow the move of the tree and another to allow the building. Anyone who wants to speak regarding the second item "must be sworn in," the agenda reads. Otherwise, commenters should get three minutes, an assistant in Mayor Jack Seiler's office said Monday.

Here are five reasons why the commission should nix the project:

5. Nature > architecture.
The building site has been controversial for various reasons but largely because there is a unique, nearly 100-year-old rain tree on the property. A previous incarnation of the City Commission declared in 1987 that the tree was such a treasure that it "shall not be removed or damaged" without the City Commission's approval. According to blogger/activist Cal Deal, the city's utility advisory committee, its sustainability advisory board, its historic preservation board, the county soil and water conservation district, the county historical commission, and the Sierra Club have all said the tree should not be moved. The city's planning and zoning board approved the project, yes -- but the board was instructed to consider solely the building plans and not to consider the tree.

Marina Lofts was designed by "architectural it-boy" Bjarke Ingels, but a million of him put together could never build a single living tree. Developer Asi Cymbal has hired an expert who says the tree can be moved down the street to a "Rain Tree Park" that he will create, but others believe the tree won't survive such a move. Cymbal has offered to put up a $1 million bond in case the tree dies. Cymbal has claimed he's a "tree hugger".... so why risk the move?

4. The scheduling of meetings seems to have favored the building.
If the tree were to stand, the whole project would have to return to the drawing board. So logic would dictate that a City Commission vote about the tree should have been the first order of business.

Instead, plans for development moved along, and the P&Z board set a special meeting to discuss and vote on Marina Lofts' development plans back on May 14. But at that meeting, which went until 1 a.m., participants were surprised to find that the board was ordered to consider the building plans separate from the tree. Anyone who used the tree as a basis for his argument was marginalized.

The one-two punch of tonight's meeting -- vote on the tree at the 11th hour, then vote on the project -- leaves no time for city commissioners to do their own research or thoughtfully consider any concerns that may come up at the meeting. Jessica Kross, who organized a "Save the Rain Tree" petition said she will present more than 4,000 signatures to the commission during the meeting. The fact that the item is scheduled last on the agenda means that it could go late into the night, when people are tired or can't stay because of family/work obligations.

An assistant in Mayor Seiler's office said the city manager, along with the clerk, is responsible for the scheduling of agenda items. City Manager Lee Feldman has said he favors Marina Lofts. He did not return a call for comment Monday.

As former city commissioner Tim Smith points out, commissioner Romney Rogers has recused himself from voting, saying that a partner in his law firm represents the Water Taxi, which operates from Cymbal's property. Rogers represents the neighborhood where the project is located -- and where some of its would-be next-door neighbors, people living in the Esplanade condo, have organized against Marina Lofts. (Smith speculates that Rogers wants to run for mayor in the future and doesn't want to be on record voting for the project, just in case the tree dies.)

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38 comments
frankd4
frankd4 topcommenter

here is the deal - these cataclysmic projects are very similar to investment advisors selling newer and riskier and synthetic "investments" on the market

we really do not need more housing stock but the existing stock is drained of its benefit to the developer - once turnover takes place the developer has cashed out and has no future interest

if we have learned nothing else it was the developers that survived and are now thriving on these projects - it's the "owners" either the investment pool who were "sold" the mortgages on the condo-flipping scammers who NEVER intended to occupy the unit (and often many units in the scammers name)  OR the real residential occupying buyer who is now underwater

scottsvec
scottsvec

The only thing that can stop it now is a "class-action lawsuit." It's not my forte. I do know it can be done before the project commences and it can delay it immensely It can be done after too, considering if the historic tree doesn't make it or dies, the council members can be held personally accountable. I wouldn't demand money, I'd demand that they have their benefits fully removed and that they are not allowed to work in any position of the lot anymore. That would be justice. Shame on everyone else for supporting the crumbling infrastructure, ignoring the real problem. The disease continues to spread.

scottsvec
scottsvec

You know it would have been really helpful if someone would have told me exactly when the Rain Tree would be heard at. I got there just after 6pm and stayed until about 8pm. I came directly from class over here on this West coast of Florida. I have class in the morning. I'd file a class action lawsuit or have one ready just in case. Call it radical but how else do you expect to put corrupt people in their place? It would be amazing if the developer would build one to two buildings at most and then keep the Rain Tree as a part of the property. People always have a tendency to go after the side-effects of the problem rather than the real problem. That's why things continue to go downhill. Thanks Cross for everything. I shared the petition across the web for weeks at a time. I posted it almost everywhere and even today before the hearing I shared it with friends. 

ejhdesign
ejhdesign

It is a foregone conclusion the commission will allow this eyesore. It is another version of George Hanbury's reign. He never met a developer he didn't like an could be "convinced by--wink,wink"  Two words against this  THE PALMS!! That fiasco has never been more than 20% since it was built and it casts a shadow all the way from A1A to powerline. As for there being nothing available around the River? Hah! try River House.. Another half empty building.

cheifingo
cheifingo

You know before I choose a place to live, I looked all over from West Palm Beach, all the way to Miami, I looked at 100,00s of condos, on and off the ocean, I spent two years searching, before I decided on Las Olas River Front," Fort Lauderdale was calling my name", I live on the river front, and I know the area well, being From NY Area, I know the cultural, Arts, and diversity that Fort Lauderdale has to offer. When I first saw the Proposed Marina Lofts Project, I immediately liked the concept, I heard a few people's concern about the rain tree issue, which in my opinion has a very viable solution of moving it to a privately funded public park area which will be built as part of the project, " I think it's a fantastic Idea! If anyone has ever been in that part of the river front, you would know it's not a area that is conducive to be a people friendly part of town, as most of you are not aware of, but the average condos in that area of down town Fort Lauderdale condos start at around 450,000 to start, and there is hardly any available for sale anymore. Never mind renting there, where the average rentals start at about 2200.00 a month," if you could find one". offering a beautiful structure such as this, and at rents only starting at a modest 1100.00 is to become available to everyone," in my opinion is a great start at bringing into the Area young professionals who normally could not afford to live anywhere near here,"this project will change that whole part of the city for the betterment of everyone who lives in and around the River Front, and Down Town Fort Lauderdale, two Thumbs Up From Me, for a go ahead!!! And I LIVE HERE!!!!

yachtiegirl
yachtiegirl

How is saving a 100+ year old tree a bad thing? another big apartment complex over taking a small little corner of fort lauderdale... Jeez people when is it enough? it is all about MONEY like it always is! Sad but true and the guy in charge never finishes his projects, check into it. 

Then they have the nerve to stack the City Commission meeting with people who work for him! It was so disgusting! All in the little matching tee shirts and probably paid to attend. Get there early there giving free food if you support them. GET A GRIP!! fort lauderdale needs this structure like a hole in the head! 

michelewoofter
michelewoofter

Big mistake. So many foreclosures and empy spaces all ready.

samstersmithy
samstersmithy

Save the Rain Tree, this project is bad on so many levels but most important is the Rain Tree.  

chrisFTL
chrisFTL

As a resident and homeowner in FTL I completely disagree with this article!  1) The architecture is incredibly cool- not just cool but sensitive to the site and neighbors and will bring real energy to the city  2) We need apartments for young professionals who are not rich folks who buy condos and only visit them a few weeks a year- we need energy in downtown and a super cool building with "approachable" rents (yes not cheap but accessable for young professionals) will add a shot to the energy in FTL.  3) the raintree which sits in an abandoned lot that no one visits WILL BE protected, again they've said the folks doing it HAVE moved even bigger trees, adn with the opened up river front and all the young people and energy, will be appreciated by MANY more people than as it sits today  

Seriously, i'm all about preservation- i live in a cool MidCent Modern house i restored- but this article isnt about preservation, its irrational NIMBYism.  They've done a great job in the design of this project adn its time we as residents of our city stand up and voice support for things that are good, not just reject stuff.  FTL is a city that needs to respond to changing tastes and demographics. I URGE folks to take the time to check out the project. Its soo cool I cant wait to see it going up!   

LynneHelm
LynneHelm

Marinea Lofts:  Fort Lauderdale's flophouse of the future.

jesred
jesred

Finally, a researched, well set out, fact inclusive, Fact Correct article, no commercials, no fluff and no smoke and curtains! Next article should be 50 reasons why we love Diedra Funcheon. 5000 Signatures, we have over 5000. For all as written above - that doesn't need repeating! SAY NO TO MARINA LOFTS and Join us tonight 8/20/13 at 6PM, at the TOO SMALL FOR THIS VENUE TO ACCOMODATE THIS MEETING BUT THE MAYOR WON'T MOVE IT OR CHANGE THE DATE, BE UP ALL NIGHT - to Fight and to Be the VOICE for The TREE! Save the Fort Lauderdale Rain Tree tonight, City Hall, 100 N. Andrews Avenue, Free Parking in the garage to the East of City Hall - don't park in reserved spots! BRING YOUR SIGN for a Good Old Fashioned Protest - for a good Reason.

Lauren Devine
Lauren Devine

The drawing of the building looks hideous and Fort Laud doesn't need any more ugly highrises. The whole vibe and character of Fort Lauderdale is going down the tubes due to overdevelopment. Let's see how these commissioners vote -- do they really care about the city or are they greedy and lazy?

moporho
moporho

People usually come to Florida to see our nature not blocks of glass and concrete.  Build to the nature.  

Leigh Campbell Kinne
Leigh Campbell Kinne

I have a solution. Move the eyesore jail to the ghetto (where it should be), and put the lofts on that property.

frankd4
frankd4 topcommenter

it's also why there is no BUDGING on rents or sales prices on these EMPTY / FOR SALE units

the bank keeps administering, and making fees, on the unoccupied investor owner units paid FROM THE investor's principal whether rent is or isn't coming in OR the bank is accruing fees and interest and charges on the foreclosureable future short sale - cha-ching and again slaming any shortfalls and deficiencies from others either borrowers or investors

YOUR retirement plan is PAYING to keep those common area lights on that empty downtown FT LIQUORDALE building

frankd4
frankd4 topcommenter

see the developers if they cash out quickly are the beneficiaries leaving the soon to be financial flop in the hands of the "owners" which may include dupes as investors in those empty units who don't even know where the building even is OR real dumb occupiers who were sold on the area being "up and coming" expecting a vibrant lifestyle only to find homeless and vagrants and miscreants lurking in the neighborhood

banks make money funding these white elephants just like hialeah politicians and cronies made a killing on that $562,ooo,ooo stadium which eventually will be abandoned and actual sink hialeah and banks make money on those "investors" sold that financing - so banks keep the fees and commissions and other revenues while shifting the loss to either those "investors" of all those empty units OR occupying residents under water

frankd4
frankd4 topcommenter

.....................or else FINDING some olde indian bones from an ancient burial ceremony would immediately stop the bulldozer

frankd4
frankd4 topcommenter

and banks get PAID fees commissions charges on investor money so they fund developers and developers get PAID a profit on competion of the project upon turnover

who gets killed is occupying owners who are underwater AND duped investors who were promised returns on funds used to "sell" units to by lending to speculators who simply walk from the deals before closing SO distant investor pools "own" these empty and unsellable and unrented empty unoccupiable units

frankd4
frankd4 topcommenter

what about all these EMPTY UNITs ?  where do you PARK ? how much FUN can it be living in a dead area ?  (the other "deluxe" high rise residential units are within blocks of the city jail !  the Nu River location has parking problems and empty retail spaces and a nearby park used primarily as a dog walking area) what CULTURE ? ART ? DIVERSITY ?  does ft liquordale have to offer ? (especially compared to NY ? ! ?) - i suspect you work in real estate in marketing and PROMOTION - that's okay too

frankd4
frankd4 topcommenter

the BANKs that funded these white elephants are making a killing from the investor pools that "own" these unoccupied vacant unrentable and unsaleable units abandoned by scam condo flippers - ask the VALET at these buildings "how many units did you once "own" here ?

now YOUR retirement plan is stuck holding the "investment" that has cost YOU as investor $800,000 on a unit worth $300,000 or so today - oh yeah the BANK made a commission, points, fees and other charges and now keeps busy adding interest and fees to their administration for YOU on this gem

we are ALL paying the developers and banks for these MISTAKES

cheifingo
cheifingo

Not in this area of Down Town, you can't even find a condo for sale here anymore for under 250.000 to start, and most are much higher then that, there is not a lot available as you may think, Fort Lauderdale has been on a big come back for quite some time now, now true in some areas there still is a bargain to be had, but defiantly not here any more.

frankd4
frankd4 topcommenter

cool is just a distraction that the only THREE thing that counts in real estate is LOCATION LOCATION LOCATION

thats cool design is more intended as eye-poping to lure dumb investors to fund the financial banks will offer to bite at the over-inflated initial prices which will NEVER be at that original level ever again

try selling YOU restoration to someone not interested in YOUR tastes - you basically have a TEARDOWN for land value only

jenn.krazykatz
jenn.krazykatz

These young professionals everyone seems to think will inhabit the eyesore won't have much money left after the exorbitant rent to spend any of it in downtown. Over $1000 for a shoe box?? Please. What? We don't have enough space we have to embrace microliving? You sure sound bought and paid for. The building looks like it got plucked right out of the destroyed model sets from Earthquake.

funchey1
funchey1 moderator editor

@chrisFTL   I believe Ingels has come up with a lot of cool designs -- but I dont think this one fits the site. Curious - What neighborhood do you live in? Would you sell your house and move in here?  You say we need condos for young professionals -- what about the waverly? The new river lofts? all those condos near US1 & Broward Blvd? Why would I move in a condo when I can live in nice old house in sailboat bend for cheaper? I lived where 17thstreet meets A1A -- walking distance to beach -- for $900. All those apts near the beach/ Birch road -- they're cheaper. Sorry, I just don't see young professionals clamoring to get to IMAX and the Stranahan House.


LynneHelm
LynneHelm

Marina  Lofts , (sorry , edit function didn't work) : Fort Lauderdale's flophouse of the future.

chrisFTL
chrisFTL

@Lauren Devine It's an insanely cool building.  Even newspapers like the NYTimes, the country's premier newspaper, wrote incrediblyi positive articles about the architecture, the sensitivity to the site, and the way it opens up and embraces the riverfront.  I guess to some degree architecture is like art, some people like it and some dont.  and you're entitled to your opinion. but objectively, not a single architectural critique nationally or internationally has said anything but rave reviews about the design.  It's gorgeous and will help transform our city

frankd4
frankd4 topcommenter

that's a BINGO

the developer is getting MORE exposure to that odd design - everyone will forget about that dumb tree

legally the development is a GO so the tree is basically history AND now the developer and BANKs can conspire to build their real estate scam and dupe investor and new occupying-buyer same as with all the other new high-rise white elephants

chrisFTL
chrisFTL

@Leigh Campbell Kinne racist much?

frankd4
frankd4 topcommenter

the BANKs can even evade or avoid paying PROPERTY TAXES meanwhile having to maintain police and fire department infastructure - so these new building don't pay the city back what the city needs to spend on multi-million dollar new hook and ladder fire trucks and required fire departments administration, training and availability, for example

no monsterous high-rise EQUALS no need for a super-pumping long-laddered extended state-of-the-art fire truck ! oops too late !

so basically ft liquordale is BROKE and gets more broke with every new high-rise

frankd4
frankd4 topcommenter

comebacks aren't what's happening - investor pools are being SOAKed for these investment losses as BANKs earn fees and commissions and other charges

no "profits" are being made other than those costs associated with duping investor pools and preditory financing schemes - basically the developer and bank conspire to pass the risk to investor pools and owner-occupiers

it's kinda like selling a new car that doesn't have an engine or transmission installed - the dealer gets HIS commission and the FINANCING earns its fees and charges - no matter that the car's value plummets and is worth much much less - so now it sits on a lot at an inflated price just like those unoccupied condos sit with crazy prices that no one will pay (as either RENT or as BUYER)

chrisFTL
chrisFTL

@funchey1 @chrisFTL also, i find your reply to me to be quite curious, with all due respect... Part of civic engagement is working on behalf of things that dont necessarily serve my needs but serve the broader needs of the community.  You seem to be making a point that if wont sell my 1950's house and move to a rental apartment my passionate support of the project is irrational, and also seem to be saying in yoru response to me that if YOU wont move from your house here it must not be a good thing.  Listen to Ingals speak about this project, how they twisted the building to open up sightlines for the building next door, and how the cut outs form broad view corridors to the riverwalk from behind the project.  Again, with all due respect how can you not take that in to accoutn when you pronounce that in your opinion they didnt think of the site.  I honestly think there's a question of journalistic thoroughness in your article thats lacking

chrisFTL
chrisFTL

@funchey1 @chrisFTL I live in Poinsettia Heights.. a cool neighborhood of 50's houses. To add additional "cred" about my desire for the "greening of ftl".. i worked on our neighborhood associations "beautification committee" to get more swales planted with oaks and other trees.  I am a guy in his 40's and i LOVE my house, with its small yard, and pool. I am not the target for a yuppie rental project.  But that said I am passionate that we need to encourage the growth of 20 and 30 somethigns in FTL.. people who work in IT, or banking, or creative stuff.  Again to compare this project to Waverly is just so far off base.. this is monumental, worldclass architecture by one of the worlds best designers.  It really does engage with the river beautifully.. i'm passionate about good architecture, and my house , an old house, reflects. that. So does this project.  the Waverly? you're joking, right?

funchey1
funchey1 moderator editor

@chrisFTL @funchey1 Agreed that it would be great for more young, hip urbanites to be engaged in FTL, and that some cool things are happening -- I see how Ingels is *trying* to create a place that brings them together - but his style fits urban Europe, not the leafy south side of the river there.. Also agreed that the way Ingel's design "relates" to the water is cool -- if only Ingels had incorporated the tree , leaving it be, and added on some flourishes like gardens and whatnot, some curves or a softer design.. I might be all for it. It's still too much blocky concrete. Or if they knocked down Riverfront and put this there -- where car traffic could come off Broward Boulevard by the BK/ 7-11 and routed twd Riverwalk -- I'd be all for it.  That's really where you need a gateway to the river.

chrisFTL
chrisFTL

@funchey1 @chrisFTL I think there are some really interesting things happening in FTL right now, i'm especially excited by the groundswell of cool things jut north of Downtown. Did you take the time to go to the street event a few weeks back with food trucks and cool culture? I love the big new community garden as well.  Remember we're only talking about a few hundred folks for this building.. one or two per unit.  There are some interesting things happening here, with small creative web shops opening downtown, as well as folks who work for companies a bit further out who might be willing to "reverse commute" a bit to places like Plantation.  I do think the developers have done their homework on whether the market can support another building with relatively high rents (for our area).  They're signing up for a ton of loans to get the project built.  I agree that fads in architecture change over time but there's a difference between really amazing, site -sensitive architecture with big windows (these units will have them based on the renderings) with amazing views and great plazas and walking areas, and bad false-mediterranean architecture with fake fenestrations and ornaments.  This project will age gracefully.  Take a few minutes to look at the actual plans for how the building "relates" to the water in front of it. There are great plans for walking areas and plazas.. taking the time to really design for a site is what separates the good from the junk, and these guys have done that 

chrisFTL
chrisFTL

@funchey1 @chrisFTL sorry also please note i'm not trying to get bitchy wiht you.. i'm so passionate about the project and frustrated that there's a lot of people saying negative things about stuff rather than engaging for things they believe in.  I decided that if i'm going to live here (8 years ago) that i'd make sure to speak up not only for things i'm against (alot of them :)) but also for thigns i'm for.. Often we floridians dont have a big tradition of "civic engagement". thanks for hearing me out. and tonight please note that there really are true residents of ft lauderdale turning otu to support the project .. i'd be hugely insulted if someone accused me of being a bussed in fake supporter. Also if you do a write up again and want a voice of a supporter who's not in any way affiliated iwth hte developer we can exchance emails ok? thanks for hearing me out

funchey1
funchey1 moderator editor

@chrisFTL @funchey1 That's cool you are involved with all that! Just respectfully disagreeing with you. I just think of the blocky buildings of the 60s/70s -- like the federal courthouse downtown. Innovative for its time, but when the novelty wears off and a few years' worth of tenants have cycled through, you're left with.... a blocky building. And these young bankers you speak of -- first off, where are all these banking and IT jobs? Assuming these young bankers exist, where do they live now? What will they abandon to come live in Marina Lofts?

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