Developer Dev Motwani proposes a 34-story tower with 249 residential units and 1,300 square feet of retail space, at 629 SE 5th Ave. in Fort Lauderdale.
A luxury apartment tower for seniors was approved for the southern end of Fort Lauderdale’s downtown Tuesday night, without opposition.
The project, “629 Residences,” will offer high-end rentals just yards away from a proposed affordable housing tower with rents one-tenth the price.
Developer Dev Motwani said he’ll market his 34-story high-rise’s 246 apartments to seniors, though it won’t be officially age-restricted. Rents will range from $1,800 to $4,000.
Development downtown can be a controversial matter. But no one spoke Tuesday night against the 629.
City commissioners said they could find no legal reason to stop the tower from being approved at staff level, without a public hearing.
The tower will rise mid-block between Southeast 6th and 7th streets, spanning from Southeast 4th to 5th avenues, at 629 SE 5th Avenue.
A bit to the tower’s north is the county’s courthouse parking garage. A jog to the south is the site of the controversial, proposed AIDS Healthcare Foundation tower, at 700 SE 4th Ave. That proposal puts 680 micro-units in a 15-story building, and aims to provide affordable rents starting as low as $400. It faces strong opposition in the community and on the City Commission.
Motwani said he’s taking no position on the neighboring project, but is “bullish” about development on the downtown’s south side.
Commissioner Ben Sorensen said he wanted to make sure there was public discussion of Motwani’s proposal, and he brought it up Tuesday for a potential vote. If commissioners could find that city staff misapplied development rules, they could have voted to set a public hearing, City Attorney Alain Boileau advised. But after discussing it, no one on the commission proposed setting a hearing. That means the project is de facto approved.
Commissioners followed a similar process last year to ultimately vote 3-2 against the staff-approved Alexan-Tarpon River tower, a 21-story, 181-unit project at 501 S. Federal Highway. The developer is suing.
Sorensen said he wanted to ensure 629 Residences at least was publicly discussed.
“I wanted to just ensure everyone had a chance to talk through this a little bit,’ he said.
Mayor Dean Trantalis said he was concerned about the building width. He quizzed Motwani’s lawyer-lobbyist, Robert Lochrie, about shade trees and traffic.
The tower would add 1,118 more cars each day to the roads, including 68 at morning rush hour and 86 at evening rush hour, a traffic consultant predicted.
“Mayor, there will be more traffic with development,” Lochrie said. “I do concede that.”
Lochrie said the project has wider sidewalks than the rules dictate, and follows everything else laid out in Fort Lauderdale’s Downtown Master Plan, except on one minor point.
“These are the requirements that are before us,” Lochrie said. “They’re requirements that this project meets.”
Sorsensen asked city Sustainable Development Director Anthony Fajardo if the project failed to meet Fort Lauderdale’s directives.
“I don’t believe so, no,” Fajardo answered. “We’ve gone through it.”
The tower entrance will be off Southeast 5th Avenue.
The city has enough water to serve the tower, but it would strain sewage pumps by increasing their run times about an hour a day. Two sewer projects downtown that are expected to be complete in 2020 would accommodate the demands of the project, the city said.
Commissioners Tuesday also:
* GAS STATION: Provided a rezoning and other necessary approvals to allow Town Development Co. to build a Cumberland Farms convenience store and and gas station at 333 E. Sunrise Blvd.
* HIGH-RISE: Agreed to give up an alley to help enable development of Modera 555, a proposed 24-story, 350-unit residential tower on downtown’s north end in Flagler Village. The property is north of Northeast 8th Street, and east of Northeast 5th Avenue. The project is still working its way through approvals and could be called up for a public hearing by the City Commission.
* FLAGLER VILLAGE CAFE: Approved a plat for M.A.S. Cafe, a vacant lot on the northwest corner of NE 6th Street and NE 4th Avenue, at 333 NE 6th St., where a standalone coffee shop is planned.