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FORT LAUDERDALE, FL-City government and Miami-based Related Group of Florida have been wrangling for months over the developer’s plan to build apartments on the site of the Hyde Park Market. The land, about four acres, is owned by Coolidge-South Market Equities of Scarsdale, NY.

The city had even begun eminent domain proceedings to acquire the land at a court-approved price. A measure put on the ballot this past spring, and approved by voters, would allow the city to float up to $8 million of property-tax-backed bonds to buy the development site for a park. The proposed taking of the land is due for a preliminary court hearing Oct. 24.

Related’s withdrawal of its proposal came prior to a scheduled meeting of the city’s Historic Preservation Advisory Board. According to those close to the case, if the preservation group had ruled against the developer’s plan, or voted to allow only a scaled-back building, the ultimate value affixed to the land in court could be reduced.

Meanwhile, an anonymous donor has given $2 million to the city toward purchase of the land. Additionally, the Seminole Indian tribe is said to have promised a $3 million contribution.

Related’s cancellation follows a city ultimatum to developer Charles Palmer of Sea Ranch Properties to reduce by at least 15 stories his plans for two 42-story Downtown apartment towers.

Despite the hassles over building height, major construction is proceeding in the CBD. Stiles Corp. has set a December start for a 23-story, 411,000-sf office building on the 400 block of Las Olas Boulevard. Bank of America has already leased 75,000 sf of the space.

Additional office construction can be expected, given current market tightness. The office vacancy rate has fallen to 5.87%, according to the local branch of Marcus & Millichap Real Estate Investment Brokerage. If new residential high-rises are allowed, they are seen as enhancing Fort Lauderdale’s status as a walk-to-work, 24-hour city.

However, local authorities continue to bemoan increasing traffic congestion caused by so much development. The city’s position may be more completely detailed if and when the eminent domain case on the Hyde Park Market site gets to court.

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