Old Bahia Cabana is gone. But a new chic resort will rise in its place.


Bahia Cabana, a legendary party spot torn down after Hurricane Irma’s winds left it in disrepair, is about to get new life in the form a chic boutique hotel.



The Bahia Cabana Beach Resort in Fort Lauderdale was demolished in May 2019, and the grassy lot at 3001 Harbor Drive, pictured on Wednesday, Dec. 2, 2020, has remained empty since.


© Amy Beth Bennett / South Florida Sun Sentinel/South Florida Sun Sentinel/TNS
The Bahia Cabana Beach Resort in Fort Lauderdale was demolished in May 2019, and the grassy lot at 3001 Harbor Drive, pictured on Wednesday, Dec. 2, 2020, has remained empty since.

Covered in glass, the new Bahia Cabana Hotel will rise 10 stories on the same spot that was once home to its predecessor, a 70-room hotel that opened in 1972 and drew a crowd with its Key West-style restaurant and tiki bar.

Loading...

Load Error

The new hotel will bring a little style to the south end of Fort Lauderdale beach at A1A and Harbor Drive, right across from the South Beach parking lot, fans say.

“It’s a contemporary maritime design, chic and modern with lots of glass,” said Robert Lochrie, attorney for the developer. “It wedding tiers up. It will have beautiful views. After Irma, the property was rundown and became an eyesore. This will create a welcome new front door to that area and set the tone for what the street can improved to be.”

Fort Lauderdale commissioners approved the new project Wednesday night 4-0, with no complaints or opposition from the public.

That was not the case five years ago, when a different developer proposed a much taller hotel and condo project that would have required the fire station next door to move to a different location.

“That created a furor,” Vice Mayor Steve Glassman said. “People were not happy with the proposal. It was just too much. With this one, not even one person showed up to object.”

Five years ago, Randolph Equity CEO Adam Sharif pitched a project that ended up going nowhere.

Sharif told city officials he wanted to build an ultra-high luxury project with average condo price tags nearing $7 million. His $160 million project included a 196-room hotel and 112-unit condo tower with restaurants, art galleries and a waterfront promenade.

In the end, he couldn’t get approval.

The old resort closed right after Irma blew through town in September 2017.

The following year, the Bahia Cabana was sold to the new developer, listed only as 3001-18 Harbor Drive LLC.

The place was demolished in May 2019.

Since then, the grassy lot has remained empty.

“The previous owner wanted to build a 30-story building,” Lochrie said. “These guys came in and wanted to stick with the current zoning. The height cap is 120 feet and they’re going to 117 feet.”

The new hotel will likely break ground at the end of 2021 and be built by the end of 2023, Lochrie said.

A restaurant and separate café will occupy the ground floor.

Glassman asked the developer to incorporate a gallery of historic photos in the lobby — a request Lochrie quickly agreed to meet.

“Anytime we lose a property that has any kind of historical significance, I always ask that they include a photo gallery on the new site so people can know what kind of role the property played, to pay tribute to the history of that site,” Glassman said.

In its heyday, the old tiki bar attracted all kinds, including celebrities looking for a more secluded spot off the main strip. That crowd of celebrities included David Cassidy, David Lee Roth and Jimmy Buffett.

Glassman had one other request: He wanted to know the age and condition of the sewer and water pipes that skirt the property.

Fort Lauderdale officials could not say, noting city code only requires them to research whether the water and sewer system has the capacity to handle the project. It does not require them to look into the age or condition of the pipes.

In recent years, Fort Lauderdale has been plagued with a series of water and sewer breaks after decades of ignoring the city’s underground network of aging pipes. City officials say they will spend $600 million in the next five years upgrading and replacing Fort Lauderdale’s sewer, water and stormwater lines.

Lochrie said the developer would agree to repair or replace the pipes on the property if needed.

“If something needs to be repaired, we will work with the city to do that,” he said.

Susannah Bryan can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter @Susannah_Bryan

———

©2020 the Sun Sentinel (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.)

Visit the Sun Sentinel (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.) at www.sun-sentinel.com

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

Continue Reading

Source Article