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Commission Nixes Controversial Fort Lauderdale Tower, Developer Vows To Go To Court

Fort Lauderdale commissioners voted down plans for the Alexan Tower at a meeting Aug. 21, 2018.

Over the past decade or so, Fort Lauderdale transformed from a sleepy, B-list city to a more expensive destination, but residents are starting to fight back.

Fort Lauderdale's beach, once known for its spring break crash pads, went through a building boom that brought Ritz-Carlton, W and Four Seasons hotels. Its downtown, too, saw a massive wave of construction that added thousands of residential units. Throughout the city, dive bars and small shops have closed. Where people once flip-flopped along in search of cheap beers they now valet their Maseratis for cocktails. 

Years of rubber-stamping new development has led to backlash as the influx of newcomers brought traffic jams, sewage failures and pressure on infrastructure. The mood of the citizenry was reflected in the most recent city elections this March, when residents voted in commissioners who vowed to put the brakes on development. Although the new commission approved redevelopment of a major hotel, the iconic Pier 66, and adjacent marina in July, another big project was not so lucky.

Last fall, Maple Multi-Family Development, part of Dallas-based Trammell Crow Residential, proposed demolishing the nearly 40-year-old Edgewater House Condominium along the New River in Fort Lauderdale and building a 24-story, 181-unit residential tower. After some back-and-forth, during which the developer flirted with scaling back the plan, the original proposal went last night to the city commission, which voted it down 3-2.

Although city staff working under the prior commission had recommended the project be approved, critics complained about its size and feared that because of its site, at 501 SE Sixth Ave., near a tunnel at U.S. 1, drivers would cut through the well-heeled Rio Vista neighborhood.

The Sun-Sentinel reports that Bill Spencer, the attorney representing the developer, will take the matter to court.

“We think the record clearly supports the approval,” he said.