Developer Asi Cymbal has reversed course on his controversial plan to move an African raintree, as he redesigned and rebranded his multifamily project along the New River in Fort Lauderdale.
In 2013, Cymbal’s company obtained approval to build 856 units, plus retail and restaurant space, in the three-tower Marina Lofts. Although some residents were concerned about how the project would impact the century-old raintree on the property, Cymbal promised to safely relocate it to another site within the city.
Cymbal hasn’t moved forward with development or relocation of the tree.
The city’s Development Review Committee will consider the revised plans for the project, now known as Raintree Riverwalk Residences, on Nov. 24. The development would cover the 2.42-acre site at 408 S.W. Fourth Ave. and 403 S.W. Third Ave., where the raintree would remain in place. Unlike the original plan, the marina on the east side of the site would not be redeveloped.
Fort Lauderdale attorney Stephanie Toothaker, who represents Cybmal Development affiliate Downtown Fort Lauderdale Waterfront 18 LLC in the application, said the original plans for the project secured all approvals necessary to move forward, but Cymbal decided that it would be extremely expensive to move the power transmission lines, as required under the original design. Relocating the raintree would have also added to the cost, she said.
“Not that it couldn’t be done, but moving the transmission lines and the raintree were big-cost items,” Toothaker said. “To leave them where they are is more satisfying. The new design really respects the raintree. It treasures it and builds around it.”
Raintree Riverwalk Residences would have public walkways around the raintree and along the New River. It would feature fountains, an amphitheater, and a dock with a potential water taxi stop. Planning firm Keith handled the landscaping for that section.
Cymbal also brought on new architects, the team of Jo Palma + Partners Corp. and CES Design Group. The former Marina Lofts was designed by Danish architect Bjarke Ingels.
Under the new design, Raintree Riverwalk Residences would total 1.89 million square feet in 32-story and 35-story towers. It would have 784 apartments, 18,243 square feet of retail spaces and 818 parking spaces.
Toothaker said the developer requested a reduction in the number of required parking spaces because apartment buildings usually don’t need more than one space per unit.
“It’s really in line with all of the other projects that have already been approved in the area and are pending,” she said.
The project would have 434 units in the east tower and 350 units in the west tower. Each building would have a pool and amenity deck on the 10th floor. The total unit mix would be 236 studio apartments, 470 one-bedroom apartments and 78 two-bedroom apartments.
This would add the to influx of multifamily development in downtown Fort Lauderdale, although some residents are concerned about heavy traffic and the aging water and sewer system.