The Bahia Mar is home to the annual Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show, but its new developers want to make it a public attraction the rest of the year as well, with an Intracoastal Waterway promenade, waterfront restaurants, a retail-oriented "fishing village" and a grocery store..
The plans for the city-owned property also include two 39-story condominium towers, which would be the tallest buildings on the barrier island, a $40 million hotel renovation and a 200,000-square-feet exhibition center for the boat show that will double as a parking garage.
The plans have not been submitted to the city yet and developers are still working on a study to see if beach streets can handle the added traffic, but they're getting a decent reception from the beach residents most affected by the project.
"This is extremely great. I can't get over how much I love this presentation," beach activist Fred Carlson said at a recent meeting where the project was explained. "This has got me."
James Tate, president of Tate Capital, said the goal is to turn the current hotel and marina site — which he said is "not engaging, it's borderline embarassing" — into a something that opens the Intracoastal up to the public.
"We're trying to do something that is thoughtful, that meets the needs of 80 or 90 percent of the people," Tate said. "When this is developed, you're going to love it."
The developers have not released any renderings of the project yet.
The plan includes an 18-to 20-foot-wide promenade along the Intracoastal around the entire peninsula. A two-lane public street would run alongside the promenade with available parking.
There will be plenty for visitors to do at the proposed project, based on plans Tate recently shared with members of the Central Beach Alliance.
Besides the promenade, there will be two restaurants on the Intracoastal, at the property's northwest and southwest corners, a second-floor restaurant in one of the condominium buildings, and a "Bahamian-style fishing village" made up of restaurant and commercial kiosks on the property's southern end.
"We have waiting lists for every square inch of this property if I can get it approved," Tate said.
The pedestrian bridge across State Road A1A from the beach to the current Bahia Mar Hotel will be redone so that beachgoers have easy access to the amenities. The reconfigured bridge will also provide a second entrance into the boat show.
The developers are also planning for a small, Fresh Market-style grocery store, something that has been on the wish list of beach residents hoping for a quicker trip to the grocery store. The store will be adjacent to the existing hotel, which is set for a $40 million renovation that includes reducing its size by 50 rooms.
While residents generally liked the plans presented to them, they still want assurances the beach can handle the additional traffic. The two towers will have 525 condominium units. To try to reduce the traffic load, developers plan for the site to have three trolley stops, two water-taxi stops and some boat slips for day-visitors.
The plans also include a large new home for the boat show with about 200,000 square feet of exhibition space that will double as a 500-space parking garage the rest of the year. Developers said it would be a "beautiful architectural feature" wrapped by a five-story structure. The wrap will have about 30,000 square feet of marine industry office space on the first two floors and loft-style residences above.
The parking garage will feature two 16-foot-high levels suitable for the boat exhibition and a park on top.
There will be about 2,300 parking spaces total on the property.