Tentative Compromise On Huge Bahia Mar Development


A tentative compromise between developer Peter Henn and east Fort Lauderdale residents have been hammered out which would allow the construction of a new hotel at Bahia Mar yacht club.

City commissioners still have to sign off on the deal. 

If the last few points are agreed upon including a stipulation that nothing could ever be built on the city-owned Bahia Mar open space — commissioners would be foolish to turn down the deal. It would preserve open space for future generations.

The compromise eliminates two condominium towers and a parking garage, which would have been built facing the Intracoastal Waterway.

Below is the letter sent to the Idlewyld neighborhood and forwarded to me by activist Art Seitz.

(Note:  Mary Fertig, a community activist who signed the letter, is the wife of attorney Chris Fertig.  Chris Fertig’s law firm is handling a number of legal matters for my family.)

Dear Neighbors,

 The Bahia Mar site plan will be brought before the City Commission on November 2.  During the past several months, Karen Owen, Anne Hilmer and I have met with Peter Henn, the developer’s representative, several times.  Our discussions have focused on a new site plan which addresses many of the issues of concern to Idlewyld.
In the new site plan, referred to as Version E, 

1.         The parking garage and two residential towers have been removed.

2.         A park runs along the Intracoastal with a restaurant on one end and the dock master’s office on the other.  The park is 1.25 acres and incorporates the current specimen garden with native species.

3.         The restaurant along the Intracoastal has been upgraded from a bar and bistro to a restaurant similar to the old Patricia Murphy’s.

4.         An area designated for retail in the renovation of the current Bahia Mar hotel has been repurposed to Beach Community Center.

5.         Along the perimeter of the building is a fifty foot wide road with parking. It is contemplated that this area will not be needed for parking most of the time and will serve as public promenades and offer better opportunities for both pedestrians and bicyclists.

6.         The surface parking which replaces the parking garage will be camouflaged with extensive landscaping. Tall trees interspersed with lower bushes and flowers will hide the parking at ground level, improving the current appearance of the property.

7.         The new Waldorf Astoria will increase from 23 stories to 26 stories and include 15% residential up to 45 units the developer says the number is 30.)

The new site plan addresses many of the issues raised by the Idlewyld Improvement Association.  These include height, mass, density, traffic, parking, green space and more.  Eliminating the two residential towers results in the elimination of 150 residential units (planned to be 2, 3 and 4 bedrooms).  Increasing the green space along the Intracoastal provides additional noise abatement in addition to a public park.  The conversion of retail space to a beach community center coupled with the removal of 150 residential units will reduce the traffic and parking impact.

Version E represents a compromise on the Bahia Mar site.  Initial comments from many Idlewyld residents indicated that the Waldorf Astoria was acceptable while the parking garage and residential were not.  During the past 18 months there have been numerous City meetings dealing with Bahia Mar.  Several residents from Idlewyld including Anne Hilmer, Sherrill Nelson, Judy Russell, Karen Owen and myself have attended and spoken at these meetings.  The clear sentiment from the majority of the commission has been for something to happen at Bahia Mar.  The question is not if something is going to be allowed but what will be allowed.

At this time we are prepared to support Version E with a number of conditions being placed on the approval.  Most importantly will be provisions which outline the agreement not to develop the back part of the property with the exception of the dockmaster’s office, the restaurant, park and landscaped parking.  Additionally, the developer will agree to conditions on noise abatement as well as all the conditions agreed to at the September 2009 Planning and Zoning meeting.

The plans have been attached for your review.  At this time only the site plan is scheduled for consideration on November 2.  The lease will be considered at a later date.

Mary Fertig
Anne Hilmer
Karen Owen

 (Editors note: The bold face type was in the original letter.)

7 Responses to “Tentative Compromise On Huge Bahia Mar Development”

  1. Christie T says:

    Many of us don’t want any highrise at Bahia Mar. If this agreement seems the best we can get, my family is for it.

  2. Captain Jack says:

    Bahia Mar was a marina unique in Florida. Now they want to turn it into just another hotel. How about a seaside village with a marine theme?

  3. Captain Jack says:

    Bahia Mar was a marina unique in Florida. Now they want to turn it into just another hotel. How about a seaside village with a marine theme?

  4. CATO says:

    Wow, how refreshing….a developer, who will actually meet with community members to work out a win/win project…unlike Hallandale’s Diplomat Resort LAC and Ben Gamla Charter High School trying to ram down the community’s collective throats high density and traffic without consideration to those who live there w a rubber stamp commission approving before the residents can even take a look at the application.

  5. Fort Lauderdale Resident says:

    Notice how residents and the developer had to negotiate on their own. Where was Mayor Seiler and the city commission?

  6. twofaced voter says:

    How about the Church Project in Colee Hammock? Are they still cramming it down their throats? Where are the commissioners on that one?

  7. Art Seitz delivered Bahia Mar Park Version E and is also due credit. says:

    It was long time beach activist Art Seitz, not District 2 Commissioner Charlotte Rodstrom or Mayor Jack Seiler, who negotiate for Version E with Peter Henn. For two years Rodstrom, perhaps stupidly, refused to talk to Henn. Seitz received Version E during a three hour, September, 2010 meeting with Henn in New York City and immediately delivered it to a shocked Fort Lauderdale P & Z Staff and equally surprised and some what appreciative City Commission.

    A week later Mary C. Fertig received an updated Version E from Henn. So for the record, both Seitz (for the beach) and Fertig (for Idlewyld) deserve the bulk of the credit.