A common sense public policy overview from David in South Florida, offering a critical perspective on the current events, politics, govt./public policy, sports and pop culture of the U.S., #SoFL and Europe, esp. the #UK, #Sweden and #France, via my life in #Texas, #Memphis, #Miami, #IU, #Chicago, #WashingtonDC & #SoFL. In particular, #Broward & #MiamiDade County, and the cities of #HallandaleBeach, #HollywoodFL & #Aventura. Trust me when I tell you, this part of Florida is NOT the Land of Lincoln.

Photo in upper-left is Hallandale Beach's iconic beachball-colored Water Tower on State Road A1A, September 2008; March 2018 photo below of HB's North Beach and southern Hollywood Beach, looking left-to-right, looking north, HYDE Condominium, Etaru Japanese Robatayaki restaurant, and Hollywood Beach in the distance, with umbrellas. All photos by me, © Hallandale Beach Blog, All Rights Reserved.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Controversial Chateau Square project -and its twin 40-story towers at U.S.-1's most-gridlocked intersection- to get first of two votes Wednesday by Hallandale Beach City Commission. Make your voice heard!

All original photos on this page by me, South Beach Hoosier. (c) 2016 Hallandale Beach Blog, All Rights Reserved.

This is the latest installment of my regular series of blog posts about what's going on in Hallandale Beach with the Chateau Group LLC's Chateau Square project that would erect TWO 40-story buildings with a large retail and hotel complex to be located at the corner of U.S.-1 and Hallandale Beach Blvd., which could actually make the city's notoriously gridlocked traffic even worse.
On Wednesday night at 6:30 PM, after many months of delays, the Hallandale Beach City Commission will have their first of two votes on the project.

As my blog has shown for nine years now, these are NOT exactly the sort of people you can allow yourself to give the benefit of the doubt, since they have managed so consistently to break nearly every vow and promise they've made about public accountability and public oversight over the past ten-plus years.

Which is to say, that they they are NOT the caliber of people you want deciding whether or not the city should allow TWO 40-story buildings, with a large retail and hotel complex as well- to be located at the SE corner of US-1 and Hallandale Beach Blvd., where so many businesses have come-and-gone and failed over the 
past 12 years, save The Knife Argentine restaurant, which continues to pack in local consumers and visitors there because they feature great food and customer service -the rarity in HB.

Hard to imagine that something could actually make that area WORSE, but based on what I've seen so far, it looks like this project, if approved, could very well make the city's infamous, gridlocked traffic even worse unless cooler heads and moderation prevail.

Excerpt from May 26, 2015 South Florida Business Journal article by real estate reporter Brian Bandell

Chateau Group plans mixed-use project
Argentinian developer Chateau Group filed plans for a mixed-use project at 600 E. Hallandale Beach Blvd. called Chateau Square.
Located on the 8-acre site just east of U.S. 1, the project would have 800 residential units, 280 hotel rooms, 166,352 square feet of commercial/retail space and 164,254 square feet of office space.
The property was acquired by 600 Hallandale LLC, an affiliate of Chateau Group, for $24.5 million in 2007. It currently has a retail building dating back to 1984.
The project was presented to the city in January with the following specifications:

The Hallandale Beach Planning & Zoning Advisory Board meeting was held July 27th at Ingalls Park -because the City Commission Chambers were being rehabbed- and I attended it. For three-and-a-half hours...
Given how things are done in Hallandale Beach and its peculiar history with respect to development, it was hardly surprised that anyone leaving at 10 PM, like me, would be UNABLE to comment publicly on the biggest development issue of the year in this town, at a public meeting that had started at 6:30 PM.

All these months later, just as I said at the time to people in the room, I'm still dumbfounded that City of Hallandale Beach Director of Development Services Kevin Klopp allowed the meeting to start without either a TV camera to record the meeting if they could not broadcast it from that location, as they have done previously at other HB P&Z meetings I've attended held outside the HB City Hall Chambers, or, at least having the good sense to publicly explain why he and the city failed to do that, since they could have at least recorded the meeting for play back later on COMCAST for residents to watch or on the city's website for any interested party.

It seems to me that just because it's July doesn't mean the normal rules don't apply 
to transparency and public accountability.

Then on August 15, 2016 the South Florida Business Journal's real estate reporter Brian Bandell wrote the following about the project

The 8.8-acre site at 600 East Hallandale Beach Blvd. could be approved for 726 high-rise units in two towers, 36 live/work units, 152,792 square feet of office space, 309,000 square feet of gross commercial/retail space and a 280-room hotel. The developer also was to create two openings onto Hallandale Beach Boulevard and one opening on Federal Highway.
The project was designed by UN Studio with BC Architects as the architect of record. The residential buildings would be 40 stories tall. The current zoning code allows for up to 15 stories in that area of the city.
UPDATE: Chateau Group VP of Development Esteban Koffsmon said the county item was deferred because the city most vote on the project before the county. The Hallandale Beach City Commission will vote on the Chateau Square site plan on Aug. 17 on first reading and, if that passes, on second reading in September. Then the plat approval and site plan could go to the county commission.
The city memo notes that only 137,384 square feet of the commercial space would be leasable. The live-work units would wrap around the parking garages. It would have 1,795 parking spaces, instead of the 3,161 normally required for the project of that size, because of a request for parking waivers.
Two media screens would cover the buildings.
Koffsmon said the residential units would be a mix of condos and apartments.
Chateau Group affiliate 600 Hallandale LLC acquired the site for $24.5 million in 2007.

The Gulfstream Park Race Track & Casino sign on the south side of Hibiscus Street, across from where the proposed project is situated.

UNStudio in The Netherlands and BC Architects are listed as architects of record

Even from a cursory look at the photos you can see how completely incompatible two 40-story buildings on that corner would be, and the disastrous effect it would have in a city where Hallandale Beach Blvd. is the ONLY East-West street that runs throughout the city, connecting the beach to I-95.
On a very intensive street that already receives THE lowest possible rating from FDOT.

Here's the Traffic study for the Chateau Square project 

It was NOT available to the public before or during the July 31 HB P&Z meeting. 

People who wanted to appear at the P&Z meeting in July or the first planned-then-postponed HB City Commission meeting on Chateau Square on August 17th, could have only relied on partially-submitted documents, but without being able to see video, would have no access to the answers given to questions posed to the developer, his attorney and the traffic consultant by the Board during the meeting

Based on what I heard at the meeting from the traffic consultant, the traffic numbers 
are very troubling and negative for HB residents and businesses who are looking at 
a much worse traffic/gridlock situation than even now, if the city allows something 
to be built as planned in the busiest place in the city -and at twice the current height 

And to quote myself, "the folks over at Gulfstream Park next door don't like it, either!"

Unless someone on the Hallandale Beach City Commission does something quite unexpected, and actually pushes back against this plan and proposes a reasonable compromise, with meaningful traffic remediation, this impractical plan may well become one of the final albeit GIANT nails in the coffin of this city's Quality of Life, and people's 
ability to move around in this city, which is already very difficult at more times of the day than one would think possible for the number of people living/working in the area.

I don't have to remind you that Mayor Cooper likely sees this project as further 
confirmation of her poorly thought-out ideas about development, where buildings 
and the revenue they generate for the city are more important than people or neighborhoods, which she has demonstrated time-after-time since she has been in office, despite the facts on the ground and the mood of the citizenry.
But when has she really ever listened to anyone else and changed her mind?

So, given everything that's happened of late, with the decisive defeats of pro-development Commissioner Bill Julian and Alex Lewy, longstanding members of Mayor Joy Cooper's Rubber Stamp Crew, where exactly are her developer friends and their plans for higher
density projects near the FEC tracks, something that would actually be smart and which I and most other people in the area would support because of the proximity of the future Tri-Rail Coastal train? 
They are MIA, just like last year and the year before that and the year before...

No, unfortunately, it's going to take more than a few positive election results to turn Hallandale Beach around. But a good place to start is to kill any thought of making the city's busiest corner the home of two forty-story towers that strangles the ability of residents and visitors to navigate their way in and thru the city.

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