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(This article has been edited for style from its appearance in the Daily Business Review)

HALLANDALE, FL-The owners of The Diplomat Golf Resort & Spa are pushing to obtain approval for an ambitious redevelopment of a Hallandale Beach golf course as a critical deadline approaches.

Running the gauntlet of land use and zoning hurdles is never easy, but winning approval of such a huge project could get tougher after November. That’s when Floridians will vote on a constitutional amendment that would allow them to veto any changes to a municipality’s comprehensive land-use plan.

The Plumbers & Pipefitters National Pension Fund, which owns the Hallandale Beach resort, wants to build up to 950 residential units, a 500-room hotel, a 48-slip marina and about 3,000 square feet of commercial space and upgrade the golf course.

Diplomat officials proposed changing the land use from commercial and recreational use to a designation called “local activity center,” which would allow a mix of residential, hotel, commercial and recreation uses.

Some in the development community expect Amendment 4, also known as Florida Hometown Democracy, to pass. That would make it much more difficult to change land use and zoning, experts said.

That’s why the Broward County Commission’s failure on Tuesday, by a 4-to-4 vote, to send the development plan to the state’s Department of Community Affairs for review — a necessary step before the final approval — is a big setback for the pension fund.

The commission’s vote raises doubt about whether the 96-acre project can get the needed approvals by the time voters go to the polls in November.

In addition to the land-use issues, the pension fund also needs to find financing for the $500 million project and faces increasing competition from condo projects already in the pipeline.

“They’re trying to rush this stuff through in advance of Amendment 4,” said Jack McCabe, a Deerfield Beach-based housing analyst.

The consensus among builders is that if Amendment 4 passes, “it’ll put tremendous constraints on large-scale building projects like this,” he said. Builders all over Florida are pushing for approvals now, McCabe said.

Specter of ChangeThe specter of the change to the state constitution wasn’t raised at the commission meeting. Instead, it was skepticism on the part of Commissioners Lois Wexler and Sue Gunzburger that dominated the discussion.

Wexler questioned developers’ claims the project would add only 180 peak-hour car trips to nearby roads, which are already over capacity.

Gunzburger asked how the developer planned to comply with Hallandale Beach’s affordable-housing provisions, which require a developer to either set aside 15 percent of a project for affordable housing or that it pay into the city’s affordable-housing fund. Diplomat officials agreed to pay into the fund.

Gunzburger wondered how a city with nearly 3,000 condo units already approved but not yet built could absorb even more inventory.

“I don’t see the need for another 950 units,” she said.

Diplomat officials argued that the residential portion of the project is critical to make it work financially. A hotel alone won’t work, they said. Wexler also asked if the property was for sale.

Debbie Orshefsky, a Greenberg Traurig lawyer representing the developer, answered: “It’s not for sale at the present time.”

She then added: “The property is not actively being marketed.”Earlier, Orshefsky said the entitlements would position the property for when the market rebounds.

She acknowledged that the owner currently doesn’t have financing or investors in place to pay for construction and said the pension fund would most likely need to partner with an experienced builder.

Joining Commissioners Wexler, Gunzburger and Kristin Jacobs in voting against sending the proposed land-use changes to the state was Mayor Ken Keechl.

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