Fort Lauderdale block says goodbye to Franco & Vinny’s, hello to modern towers – Sun Sentinel

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Fort Lauderdale — The Ocean Park luxury hotel and condo project slated for a long-neglected block near the beach earned a high five from the Fort Lauderdale Planning Board on Wednesday night with a rare 8-0 vote.

This was despite an outcry from critics worried about all the traffic the two new towers are expected to bring.

“Common sense will tell you there’s going to be a lot more traffic on these roads,” said Mike Vandenburg, who lives at nearby Le Club condo. “The project is beautiful. But it’s just too big.

The planning board also heard from supporters hailing the $65 million project as bringing long-awaited changes to a block on East Sunrise Boulevard that has been neglected for decades.

Tim Schiavone, owner of the nearby Parrot Lounge, described the developer’s plan to build a 100-room hotel tower next to a 54-unit condo as a win-win for the neighborhood.

“We welcome these new neighbours,” he said. “We didn’t come across this saying yippee thing. We asked a lot of questions. We are not looking for perfection. We seek to improve. »

The block, once home to Franco & Vinny’s, lost a major draw when the popular Italian restaurant closed a year ago. The businesses that remain, including a car rental agency, a motorcycle rental place and a walk-in psychic store, will have to move if the commissioners approve the development in the coming months.

If the project is approved, Integra Investments expects to begin work in early 2023 and complete construction in mid-2024.

Commissioner Steve Glassman predicts the project will help spruce up a block in search of a new look.

Glassman, who represents the neighborhood, said the developer plans to spruce up Northeast Ninth Court — which will serve as the entrance to both the hotel and the condo — with a new streetscape that calls for shade trees, lush landscaping and sidewalks on both sides of the road. This stretch of Sunrise Boulevard, directly across from Birch State Park, will also be dressed in new trees and landscaping.

The developer also plans to foot the bill for burying power lines along Northeast Ninth Court.

“I’m glad they’re going to bury the power lines,” Glassman said. “I am delighted that we can have sidewalks on both sides of the Northeast Ninth court. We’re going to have a bigger water pipe and better drainage. We are talking about a complete renovation of the streetscape – and not at taxpayers’ expense.

Commissioners are expected to vote on the proposal in May or June.

Several residents of the nearby Le Club condo protested Wednesday night, saying they don’t want the extra traffic.

Kristy Armada, a lawyer representing The Club, argued that the project was too dense for the block.

“The project is far too big for the proposed site,” she said. “It just doesn’t fit.”

Currently, the block has one-story buildings.

The Ocean Park towers would both be 120 feet tall, shorter than most neighboring condos, said Nectaria Chakas, attorney for the developer.

The 15-story Le Club condo tower at 2845 NE Ninth St. was the last approved development in the neighborhood and that was 23 years ago, Chakas said.

“It’s a dense and very urban area,” Chakas told the board.

The Sunrise East building in the west has 20 floors, she noted. And Carlton Tower to the east has 17. The Breakers Resort to the south has 17 floors.

The code only requires a 24-foot separation between the two towers, but the developer plans to build them 99 feet apart to add more light and air between the buildings.

Bill Brown, president of the Central Beach Alliance, said the neighborhood association held a vote in February that was split in half.

But one opponent, Carlton Tower, has since changed its mind after reaching a settlement with the developer. If the vote took place today, the Carlton’s 16 votes would go from a no to a yes, changing the vote to 87 for and 78 against, Brown said.

Susannah Bryan can be reached at sbryan@sunsentinel.com or on Twitter @Susannah_Bryan

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