Last night we attended an open meeting at the Esplanade to give an update on the community and answer questions from the residents. In attendance was myself, Asi Cymbal, architect Daniel Kidd from BIG in New York, tree mover Paul Cox from Environmental Design in Texas, Joaquin Vargas from Traf Tech Engineering, Inc who conducted the Traffic Study, Bob Brennan our Arborist and Stephanie Toothaker our Zoning Attorney.
In addition to the residents and board members from the Esplanade, Commissioner Romney Rodgers from the City of Fort Lauderdale was also in attendance.
It was a good discussion. There were some opinions expressed and everyone is entitled to their opinions. However, below is a recap of all the questions that were asked, and the answers that were given.
Architecture, with Daniel Kidd from BIG
Question on the height of the building
We have less density per acre than the newest and most adjacent construction a couple blocks away, the New River Yacht Club, which is the newest building under construction that is closest to us and on the New River. (Using the density that the New River Yacht Club is building, we could go up to 1,600 units, but we are asking for less than 1,000. That means that we are proposing less than 1/3 in density than they are constructing). Taller buildings allow for a smaller footprint, larger set back, more public space and park area. 1 of our 6 acres is designated as public space. We have also agreed to change building heights so that the taller building will now be farthest from Esplanade, and the closer building will be the smallest. The buildings next to the Esplanade will now be EIGHT STORIES LESS! They go down from 36 stories to 28 stories, a tremendous drop in stories and density. The farthest building from the Esplanade will now rise to 33 stories, compensating somewhat for the loss in units, although we will be losing close to 100 units now.
Question on why small rentals vs larger condos
We plan to deliver a superior rental product in South Florida, design driven, art conscious, luxury amenities, LEED certified. We believe people want to live in a stylish way in the urban core and that they have a strong impact on the vitality of downtown communities. Providing renters with stylish and affordable luxury prevents a brain drain of talent from the urban core to other communities and cities.
Where will the people come from to fill these units?
Statistically, FTL is 95+% occupancy, there is a demand for more units downtown. Many people who work in the urban core prefer to live in the urban core and may not be able to at this time.
What luxury amenities and features will you offer the tenants?
This will be THE luxury rental property in Fort Lauderdale. Marina Lofts will include a pools, gyms, concierge, valet, restaurants, a coffee shop, a gourmet market, a business center, yacht dealerships, and additional retail. And it will be the ONLY building in downtown with boat parking and a Marina!
We are happy with design and outreach from you, but, who can help the other side of the river where Riverfont is?
We own many restaurants in Miami, and have been asked to open in downtown, however, we have enough on our plate at this time with Marina Lofts. With that being said, we need encouragement! And we can bring a lot to the city with encouragement from people like you.
How are you going to deal with the transmission line on the property?
The high-power transmission line can go into a single post and down underground into a vault. It’s also possible to run it under the river – which we hope to do.
Includes some tandem parking? Is that legal?
Tandem is for the valets, or for commercial use. The majority of the parking is not tandem, residents are not required to use the valet, but, it’s optional as a luxury amenity. The valet is also available for restaurants, etc.
These units will create more maintenance, workmen visits, is it too dense?
Parking is very important, will be using unassigned parking for residents to be more efficient. All commercial parking will be on lot by railway.
Tree Moving, with Paul Cox from Environmental Design
We have hurricanes, what happens when you move it and a hurricane happens?
In a hurricane or wind event, we can attach cables to anchor the tree, then remove them when they are not needed. The tree can also be warrantied. The warranty is negotiable. The city requires a bond that is likely around $100,000, we are volunteering to increase that amount to $1 million because we are so confident in our ability to preserve the the rain tree and have it flourish it its new park on site.
Please provide details about your 1 acre of public space
We are providing a huge public place or about 20,000 sq ft in front of Phase 1. Also, while we are required to have a 60′ setback in front of our buildings, we are volunteering to set it back much further to 150′ or more, thus creating additional public spaces. We are also creating the Raintree Park, a public park at the entrance of our community from the south, and are landscaping between buildings, and are widening and increasing sidewalks.
Traffic Study, with Joaquin Vargas from Traf Tech Engineering
What will happen with the extra traffic? It will be severely congested during rush hour
The city hired independent traffic consultant to update the traffic study, and we are working with them to finalize the study. Yes, we bring additional traffic, and we are required to mitigate the additional trips, and we are working with the city to do that.
What is the Development Timing?
Year one is all approvals and paperwork before groundbreaking. Year Two, building 1 will be built and probably take 18 months. Then, we have another year off for plans and paperwork, then building 2 will take about 18 months, same for building three. -Total Construction time will be about 4.5 years over a 6 year timeframe.
At the end, Commissioner Romney Rodgers wrapped up with a few comments:
– There are currently 6.2B in infrastructure improvement from 595 to Sunrise, including the airport.
– Why? People want to be here
– Lots of improvements nearby (Broward Center, Museum of Discovery & Science to name a few)
– Riverwalk lighting improvements on the schedule
– The Marine Industry and the River are very important to the city, Asi has found a way to preserve that
– We need to move toward specific details
– Esplanade should have a larger voice in what goes on in their neighborhood
– Conversation is good and healthy, keep it going
– This place can only get better