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$1B Bahia Mar Project Gets Final OK

Published July 1st, 2023

Led by our partners Rok Acquisitions, Tate Capital, and The Related Group, the Fort Lauderdale City Commission gave its final approval to build 256 hotel rooms, 350 condos, 60 hotel condos, and 88,000 square feet of commercial on a 39-acre site at 801 Seabreeze Boulevard by the Intracoastal Waterway.

In another 4-1 vote, the commission also approved a development agreement that ensures open park space, a waterfront promenade, and a pedestrian walkway along Seabreeze Boulevard.

James Tate, who runs North Miami-based Tate Capital with his brother Kenneth, said he's thrilled that after nine years the $1 billion real estate project has been approved.

"We are so excited to have finally designed a plan that works for all parties," Tate told the Business Journal. "The approved site plan will be a win-win for everyone."

The new zoning finally kills a previous development plan, approved by the city in 2017, which would have allowed 651 residential units, 256 hotel rooms, and 152,000 square feet of commercial uses seven buildings up to 11 stories tall.

By 2021, Tate Capital and developer Sergio Rok sought an extended 100-year lease with the city and a new floor plan that would allow four 270-foot-tall towers and one 300-foot tall hotel tower. The city approved a new lease agreement with Tate Capital and Rok in April 2022, which also provided the city with more revenue. Six months later, The Related Group announced it was a partner in the project.

But along the way, the developers contended with opposition from Fort Lauderdale beach area residents who feared that the two-million-square foot project would overwhelm the surrounding area and make already horrendous vehicular traffic even worse.

Rahn Bahia Mar LLC, a subsidiary of Tate Capital, was also sued by London-based event company Informa and the Fort Lauderdale-based Marine Industries Association of South Florida (MIASF). Both groups lease the Bahia Mar marina from Rahn Bahia Mar LLC for the annual Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show. However, their lease forbade them from communicating with Fort Lauderdale officials outside of public meetings over their concerns with the pending development agreement and zoning. Informa and MIASF sought to overturn the lease's gag order, claiming it violated their right of free speech.

In response, Rahn Bahia Mar countersued the boat show organizers, accusing them of wanting to prevent the project from moving forward and gaining their own lease agreement with the city.

Yet when the zoning was up for first reading on June 6, the boat show organizers spoke in favor of the development plan. Rahn Bahia Mar and the boat show organizers later announced they settled their lawsuits.

Several residents still spoke out against the zoning change at the June 6 meeting, pushing a vote past midnight.

But on June 20, the project's opponents didn't show, and the commission completed the second reading for the zoning change and the amended development agreement in under an hour.

Robert Lochrie, a partner of Fort Lauderdale-based firm Lochrie & Chakas who represented Rahn Bahia Mar, told elected officials that the development team should start construction on the new Bahia Mar project in about two years.

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