Lauderdale commission backs 546-foot tower on West Broward

Fort Lauderdale’s mundane entry to its downtown on West Broward Boulevard is now in line for a lofty residential and commercial tower that supporters say will serve as a modern-day gateway to the city.

A majority of commissioners voted late Tuesday to approve exceptions to the city’s architectural design plan for Broward Crossing, which would be the city’s tallest building. The proposed 546-foot high rise would be nearly two football fields tall, have 48 floors with 956 apartments and close to 24,000 square feet of commercial space for retail shops and restaurants.

The Kolter Group’s 100 Las Olas building in the center of downtown holds the title of the city’s tallest. Opened in 2020, the high-rise boasts 46 floors and stands at 499 feet. It is home to more than 100 condos, a Hyatt Centric hotel and restaurants.

The commission’s action Tuesday allows for the Broward Crossing twin-tower structure to proceed as originally presented even though the design deviates from the city’s maximum floorplate size and distance requirements between the two towers.

Fort Lauderdale attorney Stephanie Toothaker, who represents the developers, told the South Florida Sun Sentinel on Wednesday that the towers’ design required waivers to the downtown master plan. That plan requires towers to be 60 feet or more apart and floor plates for residential projects to be no larger than 12,500 square feet. In addition, building podiums must be limited to nine floors.

Under the design, the tower separation and floor plates exceeded the limits on upper floors and the project calls for an extra floor on the podium.

The commission voted 4-1 to approve the waivers, largely because of the unique architecture and profile of the building.

The design for Broward Crossing, which is being developed by Aimco of Denver and the Kushner Cos. of New York, calls for a long rectangular cut-out between two towers to add light and sweeping views for those living in the interior units. Penthouses would occupy the two top floors.

A bridge would connect the top 11 floors between the towers.

Below, a 10-story podium would include 1,031 parking spaces along with a lounge, fitness center and library, all topped by a landscaped deck with cabanas, yoga space, and pools on the east and west sides.

“When you get to the level where the two towers connect, [the floor plates] are larger in size” than the city allows, Toothaker said. “The floor plate above the 38th floor is where it starts to exceed the maximum.”

The building’s unusual design and shape is what creates a so-called gateway factor for the downtown area, Toothaker said.

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“When you get off I-95 going east on Broward right now [the boulevard] is car repair shops and self storage buildings,” she said. “You don’t have anything architecturally exciting that says, ‘Welcome to the City of Fort Lauderdale.’ In the past most of the projects that have been built are a box on a box,” meaning a tower sitting atop a parking structure.

At the commission meeting on Tuesday, Commissioner Steven Glassman and Mayor Dean Trantalis agreed.

“I think this is really going to be a game-changer for the entrance to our city when people are coming east on Broward Boulevard. It’s a project that definitely makes a statement,” Glassman said.

“I have heard a lot of good positive comments about the architecture and people are excited to see that structure,” he added.

Said Trantalis: “It’s the beginning of more creative projects in that area.”

Aimco and Kushner have submitted plans to the city for a multi-family and retail project for property they own at 200 West Broward. Another developer, Woodfield Investments, envisions a 41-story apartment high rise at 520 West Broward on land acquired from Aimco and Kushner.

No completion date is set for the Broward Crossing project, although Toothaker said the developers are expediting construction plans for submission to the city.

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