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Hallandale Beach, Florida Residents Rooting for Proposed $90 million,
31-story Hotel/Condo Project; City Commissioners Agree to Allow
Developer Related Group to Design Project

By Tonya Alanez, Sun Sentinel, Fort Lauderdale, Fla.McClatchy-Tribune Regional News

June 08, 2012--HALLANDALE BEACH -- City residents rooting for the jobs, beach improvements and infusion of money that would come with a proposed 31-story hotel/condo project outnumbered those bemoaning the accompanying parking woes and congestion at a Wednesday night City Commission meeting.

Beachwalk, with its 84 residential units and 216 hotel suites slated for the plot where Manero's Restaurant used to be, would be the city's biggest development project since the Gulfstream Village expansion in 2007.

"It's a bare lot that's not doing anything for any of us," city resident Joe Kessel told commissioners. "It makes sense to me when we take a property from $2.4 million to $90 million."

The $90-million project would include a small, light-fare restaurant and a five-story parking garage on Hallandale Beach Boulevard at the southwestern base of the Intracoastal drawbridge.

"Jobs, jobs, jobs," another resident, Anthony Lewis, said. "We need jobs. This is a very good thing from what I see."

In unanimous decisions, city commissioners tentatively agreed to let the developer, Related Group, design the project outside current zoning requirements. They also tentatively agreed to give the developer a half-acre sliver of land next to the site.

"It just amazes me you could even consider this kind of project," said Carol Nyren, who lives on nearby Diana Drive. "That is going to change the way everybody on this street lives."

The biggest issue is a shortage of parking spots and the overflow that could end up on Diana Drive. The plan for the project has about 167 fewer parking spaces than the city code requires.

Another concern is the number of people who will actually live and stay at the hotel.

The development would have 84 year-round residential units and 216 two-bedroom suites, which could be rented as 432 hotel units by dividing each suite into a one-bedroom suite with a kitchen and a separate one-bedroom unit.

Because the property is not zoned for residential property, the city would have to give a special approval to allow it.

Commissioners will vote on those specific issues later.

"This is just moving the ball down the field," Mayor Joy Cooper said of Wednesday's decisions.

"Codes are created on purpose, to protect people," resident Peter Ramirez said. "We're overlooking the impact that it's going to have on our little neighborhood."

Representing the developer, Debbie Orshefsky made the hard sell.

Among the advantages, she listed:

-- The city would reap nearly $4.6 million in annual revenue, including $531,000 in ad valorem taxes.

-- The developer would contribute $3.6 million to the city for traffic improvements, affordable housing and other uses.

-- The project would create 260 jobs: 150 in construction, 70 at the hotel and 40 at a beach club.

-- The developer would pour $2.5 million into the city's North Beach Park, making upgrades, building restrooms and an 180-seat indoor/outdoor restaurant. The city would get a minimum of $5,000 a month from restaurant sales.

-- The hotel would operate a free shuttle, open to the public, to the beach.

Murvin Wright liked the sound of it all: "It is a very needed stimulant for the entire community."

The developer is targeting South American investors, who would stay here during their winter, our summer.

"The economy in South America is very robust, and they want to invest in a place where they culturally feel very comfortable," Orshefsky said in an interview during a break from the meeting.

Commissioners listed their sticking points for city staff to hash out in negotiations with the developer, namely ensuring parking would not be a problem, making beach park improvements before building the hotel, and ensuring that jobs would primarily go to Hallandale residents.

tealanez@tribune.com or 954-356-4542. Twitter @talanez

___

(c)2012 the Sun Sentinel (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.)

Visit the Sun Sentinel (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.) at www.sun-sentinel.com

Distributed by MCT Information Services



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