Update: Four Bad Projects Spell Overdevelopment


The Diplomat expansion will not die.

The ill-conceived Diplomat project is one of four being pushed by developers intent on building towers on every square inch of Broward.   

Never mind the Diplomat expansion would pour thousands of more vehicles on already-overcrowded Hallandale Boulevard. Never mind Hallandale needs another huge condominium and hotel like the county commission needs more lobbyists.

Its back.  Its alive.  Like a vampire, it is rising from the dead.

Where is Buffy when we need her?

The Hallandale Chamber of Commerce is prodding county commissioners to reconsidering the pathetic Diplomat project.  Commissioners killed it 6-3 just a month ago.

Here is my original story on this latest piece of over-development.

The Diplomat is just one of the obscene projects that are being peddled in the days leading up to the summer:

(1) In Sunrise, a developer wants to build a hotel and an office complex complete with high rises, next to the Everglades.  The project would be shoehorned between the Sawgrass Expressway and the River of Grass!

(2) In Fort Lauderdale, the city commission is on the verge of allowing a developer to build at the city-owned Bahia Mar marina without taking proposals.  It is a 100-year no bid deal. This one is particularly odious since the city, knowing it can’t grant a lease for 100 years, is granting two 50 year leases to get around the rules.

(3) Also in Fort Lauderdale, a sprawling multi-million project at the First Presbyterian Church off east Las Olas Boulevard threatens to destroy one of the city’s oldest neighborhoods.  The traffic generated by the planned five-story, 264-space parking garage, the retail stores, and a two-story, family center with the footprint of a large Publix store will choke residential east Fort Lauderdale.  

(3) The Diplomat would pave over part of an existing golf course, flood Hallandale with even more traffic and confirm that development-happy city’s reputation as the place many of us would avoid on pain of death. 

The argument of these three projects is the same one developers always use economic growth.

Fort Lauderdale is the prime example of why this argument is fallacious.

The city commission never saw a project it didn’t like, yet has budgetary problems and has had them long before the recent recession.  All that development did nothing for taxpayers except clog the roads and put a burden on city services.

Any Fort Lauderdale City Commissioners considering either of the two proposed projects in their community should be ashamed of themselves.  The developers should be shown the door.

Fort Lauderdale and Hallandale already have turned themselves into third-rate Queens without the infrastructure, especially a way to move people around. 

And still they want more development! 

These four proposed projects have the same group of unctuous lobbyists that are always found fawning over politicians at city halls and Broward Government Center. 

How these lobbyists sleep at night is beyond me?

Actually, they sleep very well indeed. Maybe it’s because of all the money they made from ruining our quality of life.

These lobbyists need to be defeated. 

Because believe me, tomorrow it will be your neighborhood they will want to build in. 

These projects need to be put to rest.

And if the politicians don’t have the guts to do it, maybe we do need Buffy to drive a stake through the heart of these unnecessary projects.


Here is the e-mail from the Hallandale chamber:

—–Original Message—–
To: deluxetravel1@aol.com
Sent: Fri, May 21, 2010 4:53 pm
Subject: Fate of our Future MONDAY!!

Dear Fellow Business Leader, The fate of The Diplomat Golf Course is in your hands (must email by Close of Business Monday)!!
I am appealing to you as business leaders to send an e-mail to each of the County Commissioners, asking them to revisit their vote on the Diplomat’s application. This is the LAST chance for them to look at this application.  After Tuesday’s County Commission meeting, the Diplomat will start its process of closing the CountryClub and Golf Course.
If everyone and I MEAN EVERYONE, even your family members and friends can e-mail each County Commissioner (addresses below) asking them to re-open the Diplomat application at their Tuesday meeting, there might be a chance to revisit this application, which is THE ONLY OPTION THAT WILL ABSOLUTELY ENSURE THE PRESERVATION OF THE GOLF COURSE.

Will you allow (by not sending an email) for our golf course to become a barren and overgrown plot of land infested with possums, rats and raccoons just waiting for someone with enough money to open an amusement park or sold to build a casino?  Both can be built without any further approvals!!  (Let’s talk about traffic)

Please make sure to cc me patricia@hallandalebeachchamber.com<mailto:patricia@hallandalebeachchamber.com> in your emails to:  ilieberman@broward.org<mailto:ilieberman@broward.org>, kjacobs@broward.org<mailto:kjacobs@broward.org>, sritter@broward.org<mailto:sritter@broward.org>, kkeechl@broward.org<mailto:kkeechl@broward.org>, lwexler@broward.org<mailto:lwexler@broward.org>, sgunzburger@broward.org<mailto:sgunzburger@broward.org>, jrodstrom@broward.org<mailto:jrodstrom@broward.org>, dwassermanrubin@broward.org<mailto:dwassermanrubin@broward.org>, acjones@broward.org<mailto:acjones@broward.org>

THANK YOU SO MUCH! Here is a sample you can cut and paste from. If you need help please call me on my cell anytime this weekend 954-536-6424.

Best Regards, Patricia Genetti, Executive Director P 954-454-0541
SAMPLE  (Thank You Jerry K. Jensen):I was very disappointed that the Broward County Commissioners did not approve the land use revisions and revitalization plan for the Diplomat Country Club in Hallandale Beach.
As I wrote the commission and the planning council, it was a fundamentally sound plan to preserve green space and provide for long term employment in our community: I have heard the Diplomat’s presentations now at three different venues in Hallandale:  The Three Islands Presidents’ Council, The Hallandale Ad Hoc Parking Committee Meeting and the public hearing on November 2nd.  I am very impressed at how the representatives and the owners have been reaching out to all segments of community to present the concept, engage in dialog with the residents and businesses affected, and incorporate suggestions and concerns into the planning.  Of particular interest to me as part of the City’s Parking Committee has been the proposal to provide over 375 parking places to the city, and the Diplomat’s expressed willingness to participate in traffic improvement efforts in the area. I believe the overall concept will serve the City of Hallandale Beach in several aspects:

*   Preserve the large green space area of the country club,
*   Provide additional residential and commercial units to expand the city’s tax base,
*   Provide substantial short term and long term jobs to the community, and
*   Help make Hallandale Beach a more upscale destination point for both tourism and residents of nearby communities.

As I stated at the public meeting on November 2nd, I am sure that there will be some tweaking and adjustments of the plan, but the Diplomat’s representatives have shown a great willingness to work through issues to reach consensus.  While there were a number of the people at the open meeting on Nov. 2 that had complaints, I did not hear any made that to me should be “show-stoppers” that could not be worked through; in fact, most seemed to me to be fairly petty and personal and not well-informed – but that is just my opinion.I believe that this project in the long run will provide a substantial long term benefit to Hallandale Beach’s residents and taxpayers.Now I understand the country club is facing closure.   What will be the fate of this property and the green space so vital to our community and environment?  If the property is “shut down”, will it become a derelict property like the European Club at the corner of Hallandale Beach Blvd. and Three Islands Blvd.?  I think the commission’s vote was short-sighted, and I am very disappointed with your poor decision after so many prior approvals.

Sincerely, Jerry K. Jensen Hallandale Beach, FL  33009

20 Responses to “Update: Four Bad Projects Spell Overdevelopment”

  1. Chaz Stevens, Genius says:


    I have really enjoyed your efforts over the years, but now you have proven yourself to be truly insightful…

    Until I read this post, it never dawned on me that Jack Seiler is the Queen of Fort Lauderdale.

    My thanks for the clarification. Now it all makes sense.


    Chaz Stevens, Genius

  2. Bernie says:

    Look at Hollywood and see how Bernie Friedman and Becker Poliakoff have destroyed the city. I believe you wrote he is behind the Diplomat Golf Course project. Just more garbage being shoved on the public by him.

  3. Bernard McCormick says:

    Buddy, it is in our neighborhood already. Colee Hammock, a village within a city, is close to 100 percent against the huge expansion of First Presbyterian Church, and yet the city seems bent on forcing it through. Hallandale has always been an unplanned mess, Sunrise not much better. But in the past the city has protected Colee Hammock with street closings, medians, turning regulations, etc. Now this could be reversed. Between First Presbyterian in our midst, and Bahia Mar, which would generate great traffic on Las Olas, Fort Lauderdale’s oldest residential neighborhood could not be more threatened.


    Bernie points out another disgraceful project that will destroy east Fort Lauderdale — The First Presbyerian expansion.

    This will put a parking garage, office space and a family center with a gym in the middle of one of the oldest residential neighborhoods in Broward.

    Critics say the five-story parking garage in particular will become a center for homeless activity and lawlessness. I agree.

    The proposed construction would be south of Las Olas Boulevard between Tarpon Drive and Southeast 15th Avenue in an area of low rise structure and homes.

    It is criminal that the city commission is even considering this blight on their community. Right, Mayor Jack Seiler?

    This is happening in a very upscale area and it should be a lesson to all Broward residents: Think it can’t happen in your neighborhood. Think again.

  4. Peggy McCormick says:


    You are right on. This is criminal that the city commission would even consider allowing a change of zoning for the expansion of a mega church with members coming from all over the city into this quiet, historic neighborhood…not to mention the traffic it will bring. Word has it that Mayor Jack Seilor will vote whichever way Romney Rogers votes because Romney represents District IV, the area in which this proposed development will occur. I have a real problem with this type voting. I’d like to read Mayor Jack Seilor’s Oath of Office.

  5. Jim Brady says:

    What is driving the First Presbyterian Church’s assault on the Colee Hammock neighborhood? The proposed development is simply too massive and bulky for and totally incompatible with the historic tree-canopied area. 200,000 square feet of building, with a 5-story parking garage, on Las Olas Boulevard, generating 1250 vehicular trips, is a sure-fire way to destroy the most attractive street in Broward County and ruining the last vestiges of the charm of Old Fort Lauderdale. Where is the political leadership on this question? This is not a matter of the Church’s entitlement to a rezoning. The Mayor and the District Commissioner, Romney Rogers, should have long since come out denouncing the Church’s effort. Dissenting members in the Church should stand up and be counted – NO TOWER OF BABLE ON LAS OLAS. The only ones entitled in this situation are the residents of Colee Hammock – they are entitled to be left alone and free of this over-development.

  6. The Options says:

    Broward County has several options to consider when they confront any development project.

    They can be pro-development which means allow anything to be built irrespective of the impact. This creates many jobs and economic opportunities but it impinges strongly on quality of life.

    They can be anti-development which means build nothing. This raises taxes because it eliminates jobs and economic opportunities, but it preserves quality of life in other respects.

    They can be smart growth advocates which means allowing development to occur where The benefit is balanced against the mitigation of harm to the community. This allows growth to occur while preserving quality of life.

    Nobody argues that there should be a new hotel for the Diplomat golf course. The commercial buildings are not a problem, the five single family homes is not an issue. What remains is the condo building and how tall it should be. The tallest building in the Atlatic Shores Boulevard area now is 7 stories.

    The developer originally came in with a 22 story condo tower plan which the Hallandale Commission approved on a 3-2 vote. At the county level, the plan got quickly got chopped down to 10 stories and later to 5 stories.

    If traffic is to be the consideration in Hallandale development issues, then they need to have a moritorum on any new construction there because the roads are terribly congested. If people are not prepared to take that step, then they have to mitigate traffic.

    A 5 or 10 story condo tower is not going to create so difficult a situation in Hallandale. The loss of that golf course will create a problem. The vote on this matter was not properly handled. It should be reconsidered intelligently.

  7. Beth The Bounty Hunter says:

    The Broadwalk on Hollywood Beach is beautiful and I’m glad Margaritaville will be built on that ugly piece of property. But the rest of the beach looks like a ghetto, where they tore down some of the mom and pops and then the bottom fell out and now there are just empty lots fenced in with jumk in t hem. As for the Duplomat, in my opinion they are getting ready for full-scale gambling. I heard when it was built the electric is in the walls and floors for the machines????

  8. Frank White says:

    As a former resident of that neighborhood, one thing it needs more than anything is a parking garage or some sort of parking plan.

  9. Jerry Jordan says:

    Buddy, there are FOUR bad projects.
    I have lived in Colee Hammock, Ft. Lauderdale’s oldest residential neighborhood, circa 1916, for 30 years. Like the Diplomat in Hallandale, First Presbyterian Church of Ft.Lauderdale has come back since their defeat in 2007. They made minor adjustments to their mega-Church plans of five story buildings in a low rise residential neighborhood of one and two story homes. Our Colee Hammock homeowners have gotten very organized and we are fighting back, as would any neighborhood. Since we knew that a few FPC heirarchy that badly want this PUD project, would not compromise on a smaller project, we asked Commissioner Romney Rogers what he will do when elected in 2009. Rogers said many times, in writng, that he will ” preserve and protect the residential neighborhoods in Ft. Ldle” . So did Mayor Seiler. Lots of other neighborhoods will be watching their vote on whether to grant First Pres a PUD designation, over the strong objections of residential neighborhoods. I remember back in the 1970s, when the politicians used to tell us that more development will keep our tax rates down?? That was a lie then and our City budget is over $600 million this past year.
    Will the elected officials ever find the leadership that it takes to protect neighborhoods and cut the City budget??

  10. FT Lauderdale Observer says:

    Buddy, It gets worse in Ft Lauderdale…The city staff/city manager is trying to force a special meeting to hurry and get the First Presbyterian PUD Hearing finished so they can quickly send it to the commission for their vote. My question is why so fast? Why a special meeting after all they told the neighborhood it would be on the next P&Z schedule in June. Why so fast? Attention all NEIGHBORHOODS no one is SAFE in Ft Lauderdale! A PUD will be coming to your neighborhood soon! We need to get to the bootom of this..

  11. asked and answered says:

    Why is it being fast tracked? George Gretzas is looking for a contact extension. He needs Rogers vote and is probably aware that Judy Stern is friendly with many of the business leaders who attend the Church. While Judy is not a registered lobbiest in Fort Lauderdale, many of the business leaders who are members of the Church also do business before the Broward County Commission. Get it? 3 votes gets Gretzas an extension. While Rodstrom hates Gretzas, Stern still has sway over the votes of Seiler, Roberts and Rogers. Look at the FOP vote when Charlotte stood up to Stern and the FOP, it was Romney who saved the contract. Romney wants to keep Gretzas anyway and helping the Church is a win win for him.
    Business as usual.

  12. Billy says:

    Buddy, check out another UNNECESSARY OVERDEVELOPMENT…
    Tamarac MAIN STEEET Project.

    They want to rezone a long strip of land along Commercial blvd to build: 875-mid rise units, 700 garden apartments, 300 townhouse units, a 3 acres of recreational space.
    The meeting for rezoning “Planning Council Public Hearing” is at the Broward Governmental Bldg this Thurs at 10AM to approve the rezoning for this construction.

    Do we need MORE living space when we have almost 90+ foreclosures within 1/4 mile of the proposed site!?

  13. Ann W. Shumpert says:

    Unfortunately, I don’t think we as voters of our City of Ft. Lauderdale have elected officials with backbone. Can they really be called leaders? OR, are they elected promoters of opportunities for developers at the risk of the core of the City?

    Colee Hammock, Circa 1916, is a unique downtown tree canopied, residential neighborhood stretching from the New River to Broward Blvd. with East Las Olas intersecting it’s East-West center.

    Colee Hammock is being threatened by First Presbyterian’s proposed rezoning to a PUD to allow it to become a Mega Church. The church can build within presently available zoning but they aren’t satisfied. They want to build larger and bigger, bring more people, more activities and more traffic into our already congested, prestigious Las Olas Boulevard and Colee Hammock residential neighborhood. By definition, a PUD is to take traffic OUR of an AREA.

    Combine this development with the tragedy of another proposed PUD – Bahia Mar redevelopment – what are the traffic implications on and from A1A to Las Olas to travel to Broward Boulevard to drive toward I-95? There are no required Traffic Studies of the impact on the area, to the adjacent and neighboring residential components or to the city at large.

    Everything in this city is looked at separately as if self contained. The spill off effects are not addressed. Is there any question as to why Ft. Lauderdale is in such disarray with traffic? With over development?

    This proposed zoning in Colee Hammock to a PUD is not progress, it is the destruction of the character of Fort Lauderdale. Coincidentally, the City in it’s 12 page 2008 Focus of Ft. Lauderdale Brochure stats that Charming Neighborhoods are the 3rd of 5 priorities. So, in allowing PUD’s, the City destroys that which they have in print that they want to create. Am I missing something? or are our Advisory Boards and ELECTED Officials?

    Mayor Seiler and Commissioner Rogers both campaigned on the preservation of neighborhoods. We don’t hear either advocating for that in the Colee Hammock issue. Ask the Coral Ridge residents surrounding Cardinal Gibbons about the 95 ft. lights for the CG football field. Is that neighborhood preservation? compatibility?

    WAKE UP Fort Lauderdale RESIDENTS – IF the precedent of rezoning land within the downtown residential Colee Hammock neighborhood to a PUD is allowed, your neighborhood, your home can be the next to be affected. Our City is being threatened to be ‘like everybody else alone the East coast’ rather than preserving it’s individuality and charm!

  14. Concerned Broward Parent says:

    Until I read this, I did not know about the Colee Hammock development.

    This is unreal!. The ONE area of Ft. Lauderdale where nature, huge century old oaks and true “cultural” streets get ruined?

    Fort Lauderdale…shame on you! As a person born at Broward General Hospital and living in Broward my entire life, we have seen and felt the impact of huge development. There is such a thing as “smart growth” and something that is the opposite!. First, the roads cannot handle the development! Secondly the service drain on an already financially strapped police, fire and public service departments is not some monster that would be 100% absorbed by a “NON_PROFIT” tax-exempt church!!!! Talk about :stupid growth” vs smart growth! ok somebody has the hand in the till here…lets find out who is “on the take”.!!!!

  15. Colee Guy says:

    My neighbors and I are well aware of Mrs. Stern’s helping the Church. She better be careful because Bob Norman and other members of the media are keeping an eye on her as well.

  16. Buddy Nevins says:

    Good story today in The New Times from Bob Norman.

    It recounts the career of Dennis Mele, the premier land use lobbyist in Broward County.

    I agree with most of what Norman wrote, but I’m sure it will roll off Mele’s back and into his bank account.

    My guess is that Mele will have about 10,000 copies of the story printed and distributed in the development community. No better publicity than a story that shows you are effective.

    Here is the link.

  17. Debbie Scott-Queenin says:

    The proposed zoning change to a PUD by First Presbyterian Church in Colee Hammock will benefit ABSOLUTELY no one. What is the church thinking? Their plans to build mega-structures will destroy the serene ambiance that surrounds this neighborhood, of which they have been a part. Has any of their consultants informed them that many of their parishoners, members and guests who attend their church because of this ambiance may go away once this is destroyed??? What a shame!

  18. Carla Vick says:

    I was born and raised in Fort Lauderdale and have lived in Colee Hammock since 1987, we built are home in this neighborhood because of the special attributes it offers. I am so tired of having to fight these big developers it seems there is always someone who wants to build a project that doesn’t fit, Please leave our neighborhood alone

  19. JustSayNo says:

    Most residents are not aware of First Presbyterian Church’s plans. When I first heard about them, I couldn’t believe it. I’ve attended FPC, and the santuary has never been full. I’ve heard the preacher say, “Which comes first – growth or building?” I now see that he means, “build it, and they will come.”
    This project is completely unnecessary. Who know whether the church can support the ongoing operating expenses?
    Zoning exists for a reason. I can’t change the zoning on my lot and build a hotel. Why is the church any different?

  20. because... says:

    Why is the church any different?

    Because the Church has Judy Stern and her 3 votes on the Commission? If its true, this is a done deal.