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FTL adding 2,960 residential units downtown?

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Fort Lauderdale considers adding 2,960 residential units downtown

By Brittany Wallman

Staff Writer

June 15, 2004

FORT LAUDERDALE -- The city is expected to welcome another wave of development today with a vote allowing an additional 2,960 residential units to be built downtown.

In passing the ordinance, the city would usher in new standards for what gets built downtown and would require all residential projects seeking the new units to get City Commission approval. Under the old rules, many downtown projects could be approved without a commission vote.

In addition, all new projects will be reviewed against the new Downtown Master Plan, which set guidelines for landscaping, sidewalks, building mass and other items that elected officials and the public said they wanted to see.

The new rules will be applied for the first time today to a developer's request for 69 units in a project called Winter Haven Lofts at 401 NE Third St.

The city's downtown has been redeveloping at a rapid pace, and a previous pool of 5,100 residential units in the urban core has been completely sapped. The Broward County Planning Council approved the additional 2,960 units in November, and the Fort Lauderdale City Commission tentatively released them with approval of the Downtown Master Plan that same month. The vote tonight and a final vote two weeks from now will make the additional units and criteria official.

Winter Haven Lofts is the first project to request the units, which are available mostly north of Broward Boulevard downtown. The relative few that were designated for south of Broward Boulevard have been put on hold, pending several developers' lawsuits, according to Planning and Zoning Services Manager Bruce Chatterton.

Chatterton said interested developers have been talking to the city about new downtown projects, including affordable housing. Some are looking at the fringes of downtown as well, including mixed-use projects on Sunrise Boulevard.

"It's like developers are nibbling around the edges," Chatterton said.

City officials yearned for housing development downtown, hoping to create a vibrant center that doesn't empty at the end of the workday. But development has been a tender topic in Fort Lauderdale.

The Downtown Master Plan envisions the population in the city's heart rising eventually from 11,166 to up to 36,900. To start getting there, the Downtown Development Authority voted last week to spend $25,000 researching and writing a land use plan amendment enabling thousands more residential units to be built.

"Whatever the master plan says is what we're all about," said Chris Wren, executive director of the Downtown Development Authority. He said the exact number of additional units, which could be 13,000 to 18,000, will be determined during the consultants' research.

The meeting will be at 6 p.m. at City Hall, 100 N. Andrews Ave., Fort Lauderdale, and is broadcast live on the Internet at www.fortlauderdale.gov and on Cable Channel 38.

Brittany Wallman can be reached at [email protected] or 954-356-4541.

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