The tallest addition to the city’s skyline would rise in the western fringe of downtown Fort Lauderdale, just west of the railroad tracks on Broward Boulevard. With 48 floors and a height of 545 feet, eight inches, a development called Broward Crossing is so tall that some of its downtown apartments would have ocean views. Its unusual architecture has drawn praise from city leaders. Broward Crossing is designed as a single building with two towers that connect on the top 11 floors, creating a huge gap in the middle of the structure. Mayor Dean Trantalis, who has complained that too many downtown buildings have bland, boxy designs, told the Sun-Sentinel in January that Broward Crossing’s architecture was dramatic, dynamic and awe-inspiring.
But as 2022 began, the high-profile project was very much a work in progress. Like other major real estate developments moving from concept to construction, Broward Crossing is likely to change in size, shape or appearance before it redefines the other side of the tracks in downtown Fort Lauderdale. Indeed, developers have already scaled back the number of proposed apartments and cut office space altogether. Meanwhile, the city has lodged a number of concerns including tower positioning, building materials and Federal Aviation Administration-mandated height limits.
“It is going to be a western expansion of what you have a few blocks east toward Las Olas Boulevard,” Laurent Morali, president of New York-based Kushner Companies, said in an interview last May, after the city commission voted to rezone 300 W. Broward Blvd., the site of Broward Crossing. “It is going to be beautiful and defining for the area.”
Kushner Companies paid about $49 million to acquire the 4.2-acre development site on West Broward Boulevard from Swire Properties of Hong Kong. The eight-figure price belies the modesty of the existing property at a small office building and a parking lot.
Despite its humble appearance, the development site is prized largely for its proximity to mass transit and cultural landmarks as well as dining and shopping on Las Olas Boulevard. The site is across Broward Boulevard from the Brightline train station and Broward Central Bus Terminal, across SW 4th Avenue from the Museum of Discovery and Science, and a short walk from such riverfront attractions as Esplanade Park and the Broward Center for the Performing Arts.
New York-based Kushner Companies – whose owners include Donald Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner – entered a joint venture with Denver-based Aimco, a major real estate investment company, to develop Broward Crossing at an estimated cost of $700 million.
In an interview in May, Morali was unconcerned about competition from the surge in downtown apartment construction in Fort Lauderdale. “I’m not worried about having too many [downtown] apartments,” said Morali, who expected Broward Crossing to open as early as 2024. “It’s going to be superior to a lot of existing product.”
But after they won a rezoning for the Broward Crossing site last May, the developers cut the project’s planned number of apartments by a quarter, from 1,300 to 956. The conceptual plan for Broward Crossing also included office space at first, but Kushner and Aimco excluded offices from the application for site-plan approval that they submitted Nov. 11 to the city government.
The site plan included fresh renderings for Broward Crossing that showed two connected towers, instead of the original four-tower design depicted last spring in conceptual renderings.
Exactly what drove changes to the plan for Broward Crossing is unclear – Kushner Companies and Aimco declined requests for interviews this year – but some clues emerged from the developers’ application to the city for site-plan approval in November. They provided this architectural description of Broward Crossing in their site-plan application: “The void between the towers lends it a compelling appearance and offers the practical benefit of view corridors through the building. … The dramatic bridged massing creates a unique dynamic form and a symbolic gateway. It not only takes advantage of the best views the site has to offer, but also creates an elegantly sculpted icon in the city’s skyline.”
But ultimately, the look of Broward Crossing may undergo several iterations before the developers settle on a design that satisfies the Development Review Committee, or DRC, a gauntlet of city officials who review proposed real estate developments for compliance with municipal rules and standards.
In a 25-page DRC response to the site plan the developers submitted Nov. 11, the committee criticized the architecture of Broward Crossing for a variety of reasons, including a lack of “skyline drama … The tower top design should be revised to provide for greater expression, varying in design, contain sculptural features, and illuminate.”
According to the DRC response on Dec. 14, the look of Broward Crossing violated the downtown master plan [DMP] standards for tower top design, which require architecture that contributes to “dramatic skyline composition” and includes “a sculptural design, unique feature, or angular element.”
The DRC also criticized the plan for Broward Crossing because it “does not contain high-quality building materials … There are three materials labeled: stucco, windows, and architectural metal screening.” In addition, the DRC said the proposed development exceeds the maximum building height permitted by the Federal Aviation Administration, and its “L-shaped tower configuration” doesn’t comply with DMP standards for positioning towers. “Appropriate placement and compatible building design are important for this site, given the context and visibility.”
Trantalis and the city commission may have the final say on the Broward Crossing’s architectural statement. According to the DRC’s critique of Broward Crossing, the application for site-plan approval by Kushner Companies and Aimco “is subject to approval by the City Commission for site-specific design requests.”
I don’t think this current project is as much of a reduction as described. This project only represents two of the four towers originally discussed. The developers own 2 other parcels in the same vicinity where the other towers would end up. This is 300 West Broward. From a recent press release ” Swire Properties affiliate, sold the properties at 200, 300 and 520 West Broward Boulevard for a combined $49 million to companies controlled by Kushner and Aimco”.