Oakland Park is working to lure better development, but a Residence Inn by Marriott didn’t make the cut. The proposed hotel was rejected 3-2 by the City Commission on Wednesday night.
Later in the meeting, a townhouse project downtown was approved without discussion.
The four-story, 124-room Residence Inn proposed at 3701 Powerline Road tested the city’s push for higher quality development and was rejected by the city’s planning-zoning board in October.
City commissioners Wednesday weighed the project for nearly four hours, including more than an hour of public input, largely negative. Commissioners said they were concerned the hotel’s restaurant plans weren’t up to par, and expressed some concerns about security and traffic.
Commissioners Michael Carn, Matthew Sparks and Sara Guevrekian voted against the Residence Inn. Commissioners Tim Lonergan and Mayor John Adornato dissented. Lonergan said he had concerns but thought the hotel could be a “catalyst” for positive change on Powerline.
Guevrekian said it wasn’t “harmonious” with surrounding properties, and wouldn’t add commercial diversity, because there are already two hotels on Powerline.
“I don’t want to see Powerline corridor turn into hotel alley,” she said.
The hotel team had introduced “litigation counsel” before the hearing, and afterwards, attorney Hope Calhoun said a lawsuit is possible.
“The city of Oakland Park has a vision and that vision is to … discourage a certain type or standard of uses in the city,” Calhoun had argued, “and again, we do meet these standards.”
The city is working to improve the quality of development in its borders. Its law says new hotels may not have window air-conditioner units, and must offer a full service restaurant serving all three meals every day of the week, must prohibit sexual offenders from staying if the hotel is within 2,250 feet of a school, bus stop or daycare, have a swimming pool and front-desk worker and be designed without exterior hallways, or “catwalks.”
The law also requires hotels to participate in the state’s “green lodging” environmentally friendly program or something like it, reducing waste and conserving natural resources like water.
Commissioners zeroed in on the restaurant, saying it didn’t sound like it met the city’s vision.
The land, on the southwest corner of 38th and Powerline, just east of Interstate 95, is vacant, and hotels are allowed on a conditional basis, if the City Commission approves it.
Opponents from the nearby Royal Palm Isles neighborhood carried large postcards displaying headlines about hotel crimes, like “Woman’s body found in Oakland Park hotel.”
“Do we need another one?” the postcard asked. Chief among their concerns: “huge traffic back-ups” on Northwest 38th Street, crime, and the fact that the hotel caters to extended stays, the postcard said.
Traffic analysis Alan Tinter, on the hotel development team, said it would add 627 vehicles to the roads each day, which he argued was less than the traffic other potential uses of the property would attract.
The city and Broward’s Metropolitan Planning Organization plan to narrow Powerline Road from six lanes to four, Tinter’s analysis noted. He concluded the intersection with Northwest 38th Street/Park Lane West will operate at a “D” level during morning rush hour with or without the hotel, and with six lanes or four. The main entrance would be on Northwest 36th Street.
Ted Hickman, who lives in the neighborhood, said traffic already is tied up because of a nearby school bus depot, just west of Interstate 95 off 38th Street. He said he fears a Residence Inn would attract drug users and prostitutes.
Elaine Faust, who owns a business near the hotel site, urged commissioners to vote yes, saying if they didn’t, it could be years before a project of equal quality chose to build there.
She said a Marriott “would beautify and upgrade Powerline Road and help push out blight, which unfortunately Powerline Road has been known for too long.”
In the downtown, adjacent to the Dixie Highway corridor, the city says it is trying to create a sense of community.
The owner of the Garlic Knot restaurant, Alex Giampietro, won approval Wednesday night to add eight townhouses to the downtown, and said he plans to live there.
His project puts four townhomes each in two rectangular buildings, oriented so that the narrower sides face the street. The doors to the townhomes and paved parking areas will be situated on the side. The 2,200 square foot units with rooftop terraces will sell in the $400,000s, he said.
The city in October approved new standards for freestanding housing in the downtown district, north of Oakland Park Boulevard, between 10th and 13th avenues. But Giampietro doesn’t have to follow them.
He submitted his plans earlier this year, before city commissioners imposed a building moratorium downtown.
The moratorium expired Oct. 18. That evening, city commissioner passed new rules requiring standalone housing developments to be built closer to the street, with more green space. They must be set back farther from the side and rear property lines than previously allowed. The minimum size for a unit is now 1,200 square feet, enlarged from 900 square feet. Parking must be located at the side or rear.
Giampietro said he disagreed with some of the city’s new rules, and wouldn’t have been able to build as many townhomes if he’d followed them on his half acre at 1062 NE 35th Street.
“I’m the last one to get in before the moratorium,” he said.
The property has been mostly vacant, except for a small building that was last used as a clubhouse for the Oakland Park Shuffleboard Club, the city said.