BAHIA MAR PLAN WOULD VIOLATE THE INTENT OF OUR CHARTER

They can say all they want about lease "extensions" being legal, but the intent of our Charter — our city's "Constitution" — is clear: NO 100-YEAR LEASES!

Tim Smith — who is also extremely troubled by this — says the Commission should put a Charter change on the ballot if they want to do it properly.

The Charter language:

 

OUR "FIRST CLASS" RESORT IS "BLIGHTED"

In today's Sentinel, LXR executive Peter Henn says "Bahia Mar ... is blighted." Yet according to Rochelle Golub's letter, the lease obligates them to run a "first class hotel-marina and resort complex." So if it's blighted, who is to blame?


VISITORS GIVE BAHIA MAR LESS THAN STELLAR REVIEWS

The current lease REQUIRES that Bahia Mar be run as a "FIRST CLASS" resort. However, it appears that the developers have allowed it to deteriorate into something of a black eye for the city.

Look at the reviews at tripadvisor.com. I couldn't help noticing that even the tourists who gave the most positive overall reviews about their experience almost always had negative things to say about the place. Definitely not the reviews you would see for a first-class resort.

The comments below are from reviews that gave an overall 4 out of 5 stars for "value, rooms, location, cleanliness, service, sleep quality" ...

• "When we arrived, our first room smelled of stale cigarettes, but we were moved right away"
• "After reading some of the negative reviews, we were a bit apprehensive about staying at Bahia Mar."
• "The hotel overall is very nice. With the exception of cosmetics. The bathrooms, carpeting and tv's could use an overhaul."
• "Our dinner that night in the lobby restaurant was a nightmare. We received our drinks but did not receive our dinner. The kitchen claimed they did not get our order. The waitress claimed she put it in but she was very cranky and completely miserable. I agree with a previous review that some of their restaurant staff require a 'proper service' attitude and training."
• "This hotel isn't fancy"
• "Beds need to be updated, way to soft and a little worn."
• "Rooms and furniture need some updating."
• "Room was a little dated (small bathroom, no fan, older tub/shower)."
• "Hotel could use some remodeling"
• "I would recommend it after it's remodel the rooms really need it."

An updating of the hotel apparently is under way, but why did they let things get so bad?

66% of the reviews were "excellent" or "very good" overall in the six categories listed above; 34% were "average," "poor" or "terrible."

Many reviews were MUCH more negative. Read the reviews for yourself on TripAdvisor.com by going here: http://tinyurl.com/65x9xoz

Location of "park"

 

SENTINEL IS WRONG ON PARK SIZE

The Sentinel story Sunday refers to a park of "almost 2 acres." In your dreams. To be that size, the "park" must include:

• The Dockmaster's office
• The private, upscale Patricia Murphy's II restaurant
• The private "you can walk on it when we don't need it" Wedding Pavilion / Function Area.
• All of the adjacent water-side sidewalk ("promenade")
• The restrooms. :)

Two acres is 630 feet — the approximate north-south width of Bahia Mar — by 138 feet deep. That takes you from the water to the edge of the parking stalls.

The actual green space park — not including the sidewalk ("promenade") — is 300 x 115 feet. That is .79 acres. And that includes the heavily planted "garden" area. It does not include the Wedding Pavilion area, which they can close 365 days a year if they want to.

See this graphic with the park measurements:

 

MOST NEIGHBORHOODS CAN'T USE "COMMUNITY" CENTER

One of the big lures the developer is using is a "Community Center," which would be in the office/restaurant/retail complex just north of the hotel, where the fishing boats are now. But this big lure is not what it seems.

If you live in South Middle River, or Dorsey Riverbend, or Knoll Ridge, or Croissant Park or most other city neighborhoods — FORGET using the Beach Community Center for your meeting. Only "greater Beach and/or Intracoastal area" associations are welcome. And even the groups that are allowed can only use the "Community Center" for "up to three hours a month on the same evening." Weekends are out. Meetings run past 10? Not allowed. A security deposit "may be required."

And the City itself can only use the "Community Center" for meetings "REGARDING THE BEACH AREA." And only "from time to time." And those danged meetings better not last longer than five hours, because that is prohibited. And no weekends!

Enjoy your "Community Center."

The "Community Center" language from the Conditions of Approval:

"3. Applicant shall make the Beach Community Center available to established
community neighborhood associations within the greater Beach and/or Intracoastal
area
for their monthly neighborhood meetings.

"Such neighborhood associations may
reserve the facilities in advance on an individual association basis for up to three (3)
hours a month
on the same evening on a re-occurring basis up to 13 months in
advance (e.g., the third Thursday of every month from 6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. for the
next 12 months for ABC Intracoastal Association and the second Tuesday of every
month from 5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. for XYZ Beach Association).

"Applicant shall make the facilities available to such established neighborhood associations on an advanced reservation only basis only during the week nights (and not on the
weekends) during the hours of 5:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. only, with only one
neighborhood association using the facilities each week night.
There shall be no fee
for the use of the facilities (but a security deposit to off-set potential damage to the
facilities may be required by Applicant from time to time as the case may be).

"In addition, Applicant shall make the Beach Community Center available to City for
general municipal, CRA, BRAB, Commissioners' and other special meetings and
workshops that the City holds regarding the beach area from time to time.

"Applicant shall make the facilities available to the City for such meetings and/or events up to
five (5) hours a day during the weekdays (and not during the weekends) on an
advanced reservation only basis between 9:00 a.m. and 10:00 p.m. Said five (5)
hours a day is in addition to the three (3) hours that certain neighborhood
associations may also reserve the facilities from time to time each weekday. There
shall be no fee for the City to use the facilities."

 

HIGH COST OF PARKING FOR CIVIC EVENTS

The community center will be largely dependent on the Bahia Mar GARAGE parking. What will that cost? The developers have already said that they intend to maximize docking fees, so what do you think they will do with parking fees?

Will we be able to use our Beach Parking Passes on the site? C'mon City Commission!


YOU ARE WELCOME TO BE HERE EXCEPT WHEN YOU AREN'T

This site plan notation shows that the "Wedding Pavilion / Function Area" has a special status. However, the language here is significantly incomplete. Read the full language below. It makes it crystal clear that they can close this area to the public whenever they please.

 

Here's the language that counts. (From Conditions of Approval, Para 2):

 

GREEN BARRIER

The left (south) border of the Wedding Pavilion is predominantly a landscaped barrier to visually and physically separate it from the "park."

 

DEFINITION OF "PARK"

This is how it's spelled out in the Conditions of Approval, Paragraph 2, and it does NOT include the Wedding Pavilion. It also does NOT include the gardens! As defined here, the "park" is about .53 acres (115 x 200 feet).

 

NO FOOD FOR "THE LITTLE PEOPLE"

This is Patricia Murphy's Candlelight Restaurant at Bahia Mar, which has been gone for years. The Bahia Mar developers propose a "Patricia Murphy's II" restaurant on the northwest corner of the site overlooking the Intracoastal. That will be great for yacht owners, but not a place many of our citizens will be able to afford. Not even a hot dog stand is being proposed for park visitors.

 

THE WALK TO NOWHERE

The Sentinel says the promenade is "about a mile" long. Few people will walk that. And few people will want to go to the distant park where there's nothing to do and where big boats will block the view. So you get to use a sidewalk with boats on one side and parking lot on the other. Big whoop.


THE ROAD TO HELL

The developer says they "plan" to build a Waldorf (Sun-Sentine 6/19/11) and their "intention" is to build a Waldorf (Response to Rochelle Golub Paragraph 5 [ http://tinyurl.com/3hyl4hv ] ). Why don't they say the "definitely will" build a Waldorf, and put it in writing!

The word "Waldorf" does not even appear in the "Conditions of Approval" that accompany the PUD ordinance. The developer says "city staff preferred the word 'luxury' hotel" instead of "Waldorf." Why be vague? Why not nail down "Waldorf??"

 

PUBLIC LAND WITH PRIVATE RESIDENCES

This plan to put 27 private condos on OUR property is very, very troubling. What happens in 100 years?


DEVELOPER CLAIMS "CONDOMINIUMS" ARE "APARTMENTS"

The current lease says they can have "apartments" on the site, apparently for boat crews, etc. The developers say "the plain meaning of 'apartments' is a residential unit." Therefore, they claim, they can have condos, which are residential units.

Their logic: "Although the word apartments my have one connotation during a certain time period, clearly that connotation changes over time. For example, people previously purchased and lived in apartments and co‐ops before the word condominiums was ever established."

[See developer's response, Pg3, Para 2. http://tinyurl.com/448lsvu ]


THE BAHIA MAR HOTEL WON'T BE "BAHIA MAR" ANYMORE!!

It will become a "Doubletree." That's a very serious loss of local identity, like Burdine's becoming Macy's, or Eckerd's becoming CVS. Not a good thing.

Trying to console us, the developer says "the property" will always be "Bahia Mar." [Developer response, Para 6. See: http://tinyurl.com/3hyl4hv ]


THE CITY FAILS TO ANSWER A KEY QUESTION

In my last Bahia Mail package I told you that the city's Parking Director would be authorized to return ALL 80 PUBLIC METERED PARKING SPACES to the developer without City Commission review if we don't make sufficient use of the park. I asked the city on TUESDAY (via Romney Rogers' excellent assistant, M.J. Matthews) to confirm that my understanding is correct. Here's what happened:

Tuesday, 9:22 a.m. — Original inquiry. "I would like to find out: Is it correct that the city parking director will have the authority to return all 80 public parking spaces on Bahia Mar to the applicant? That no City Commission review or citizen review is required? That's how I understand the ordinance (Conditions of Approval, Section 2, Para 2)."

The inquiry is relayed to Julie Richards for forwarding to staff for a response.

Result: NO ANSWER.

Thursday, 11:12 a.m. (two days later!) — I write to MJ: "??????"

Result: NO ANSWER.

Friday, 9:24 a.m. — I write: "Can I have an answer, please?" (Copied to Richards and Romney)

Result: NO ANSWER.

Friday, 1:23 p.m. — I write: "Someone should be able to answer this off the top of their head. Who is responsible for answering? This is Day 3." (Copied to Richards)

Result: NO ANSWER.

As of Sunday evening 6/19/11, NO ANSWER.


Given the importance of the issue and the imminent City Commission vote, I had expected better.


80 Parking Spaces

 

STRING BEAN PARKING PLAN

The public, metered parking is in dark blue ... strung in a thin line around the entire property. Not very convenient for park-goers. Check out this map with distances shown:

 

MORE BAHIA MAR GRAPHICS & INFO

Read the SEARCHABLE Bahia Mar Ordinance & Conditions of Approval. http://www.fortlauderdaleobserver.com/bahiamar/pix/BMOrdinance

To see all the City Commission's backup documents, go here: http://tinyurl.com/688mqpv
Scroll down to the big blue horizontal bar. It's the red documents you want to see.

Go here: http://www.fortlauderdaleobserver.com/bahiamar