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By Lisa J. Huriash
The skyline in downtown Fort Lauderdale will keep reaching great heights — this time with a tower that soars 47 stories high.
The latest in a string of development projects in the heart of of downtown will be among the city’s tallest; at 499 feet it’s about the same height as 100 Las Olas, which is expected to be complete early next year.
“We are big believers in the potential of downtown Fort Lauderdale,” said Steve Patterson, CEO and president of Related Development.
The new apartment rental high-rise, legally known as RD Las Olas, at 201 S. Federal Highway, was approved by the city staff in August to reach Fort Lauderdale’s height capacity.
The developer, The Related Group, bought the SunTrust bank property just northwest of the Henry E. Kinney Tunnel to make its plans a reality. A rendering shows the tower sitting on land off Las Olas Boulevard, across the street from the Icon Las Olas, the 43-story apartment tower that opened in 2017 and also developed by The Related Group.
The plans call for 311 apartments, with ground floor retail. The next nine stories will be a parking garage, and floors 11 and higher will be the units. The apartments will be one, two, and three bedrooms, with rent starting at $2,200.
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There is no timetable for demolition of the SunTrust bank and its drive-through, which sits on the site. Construction on the rental apartments is expected to begin this summer.
Fort Lauderdale has been growing with high-rises: Construction has begun on a full city block of rental apartments and office space for “The Main Las Olas,” twin towers with 25 stories of office space and 27 stories of 341 apartments. Riverparc Square, approved by the commission last year, is also one of the largest with three towers, at 43, 42 and 36 stories. The 100 Las Olas tower, at 499 feet and 10 inches, will be 46 stories tall and made up of 113 luxury residences and 238 hotel guest rooms with Hyatt Centric.
“Fort Lauderdale has become an extremely desirable location in southeast Florida, it’s not the old college Spring Break party town it used to be,” said Jack McCabe, a real estate analyst. “It’s become a real urban center with a lot of culture and different events. [But] as desirable as Fort Lauderdale is, it can only afford so many of these high-dollar rentals before we’re going to see some corrections."
Steelbridge Capital sold the SunTrust property for $12 million in December. It’s a project that’s next to Steelbridge’s Las Olas Square office and retail complex, which it bought in 2016. Steelbridge has completed a two-year redevelopment project that attracted new tenants such as Del Frisco’s Grill.
A Fort Lauderdale city spokesman said the next step would be for the developer to apply for permits before it can break ground on the tower. Jessica Suarez, The Related Group’s vice president of development, said she expects that to be filed in April.
Suarez said indicators show there is still “rent growth in Fort Lauderdale, still a strong demand for rentals. Related is extremely bullish across Fort Lauderdale.”