Bahia Mar – Too Tall, But Not High Enough

On Tuesday the Fort Lauderdale City Commission will again pursue pouring  gigantic hunks of concrete on top of one of it’s most fragile resources, our barrier island.

This swampland scam takes place under the guise of an “Innovative” design that is supposed to be so special that the regular zoning code just won’t work.




Remember folks, this is a bit different. It’s public land. The citizens of Fort Lauderdale own Bahia Mar. Not the Mayor’s cronies…. er, developers that is.


It’s a foregone conclusion that Mayor Jack Seiler will do all he can to maneuver as many yes votes as he can. At his last election, Seiler took over $5700  from the Developers’ friends, family, staff, and quite possibly Jimmy Tate’s lawn man and pool guy. Over the course of just a few days in December 2014 at least 23 members of the RAHN Bahia Mar Development Team (including wives and children)  bundled-up $250 donations to the Mayor. Each was the maximum allowed by law.

Mr. Bought and Bossed has to deliver this approval to the wealthy special interests if he wants to see more big money when he begins his next campaign.

We offer two perspectives here. We agree the new buildings are too tall, and we caution that these buildings are being built way too close to sea level.

It is quite possible that much, if not all of the property could become both un-insurable and un-mortgageable during the first thirty years of the developer’s proposed 100 year lease.


First: The buildings are still decidedly too tall. City Staff should never have allowed this particularly monstrous proposal to advance to the Public Hearing stage. We know they are being pushed hard every day by City Manager Lee Feldman to cut corners while putting extra money in the till for Seiler’s cronies.


This new proposal reportedly takes their heights down from 39 stories to 29 stories. For a variety of good reasons, the Bahia Mar site is zoned for a maximum building height of 120 feet, or about twelve stories.

We fail to see how building something over twice as tall as allowed is “Innovative”, nor “Sustainable” (as heavily marketed in their proposal). It’s neither innovative, nor sustainable; it’s just a huge assault on one of the few remaining pieces of public land on the barrier island.

North Tower Elev.

Second: The Buildings are decidedly too low. What we mean by this is the lowest occupied levels of these new buildings are too close to sea level and will likely face severe flooding during their useful lifespan.To be more specific, the proposed Bahia Mar site will have an average grade of 6’11” above sea level. The existing hotel’s main floor will be 11” below grade at 6 feet.


Remarkably, the proposed North Tower’s lowest floor is set at 4’4” above sea level and almost 3 feet below grade. That floor contains the FPL Vault, all the electrical equipment, and the emergency generator.

North Tower Section

The proposed South Tower’s first floor is set at 7’ above sea level and a mere inch above grade. Like the North Tower, the backup generator and all main electrical for the building will be located on this level.

South Tower


We fail to see anything “innovative” or “sustainable” in this crony-infested swampland scam.



South Florida has been called “ground zero when it comes to sea-level rise.” It has also been described as “the poster child for the impacts of climate change,” the “epicenter for studying the effects of sea-level rise,” a “disaster scenario,” and “the New Atlantis.”

Huffington Post calls Fort Lauderdale “One of 14 U.S. Cities that could disappear over the next century”.

Here’s what the Insurance Industry is saying: 

RIMS 2016: Sea Level Rise Will Be Worse and Come Sooner

By Don Jergler | April 12, 2016

Sea levels could rise by much more than originally anticipated, and much faster, according to new data being collected by scientists studying the melting West Antarctic ice sheet – a massive sheet the size of Mexico.

That revelation was made by an official with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration on Tuesday at the annual RIMS conference for risk management and insurance professionals in San Diego, Calif.

The conference is being attended by more than 10,000 people, according to organizers. It was day No. 3 of the conference, which ends Wednesday.

Margaret Davidson, NOAA’s senior advisor for coastal inundation and resilience science and services, and Michael Angelina, executive director of the Academy of Risk Management and Insurance, offered their take on climate change data in a conference session titled “Environmental Intelligence: Quantifying the Risks of Climate Change.”

Davidson said recent data that has been collected but has yet to be made official indicates sea levels could rise by roughly 3 meters or 9 feet by 2050-2060, far higher and quicker than current projections. Until now most projections have warned of seal level rise of up to 4 feet by 2100.

These new findings will likely be released in the latest sets of reports on climate change due out in the next few years.

“The latest field data out of West Antarctic is kind of an OMG thing,” she said.

While Fort Lauderdale talks a great game about it’s sustainability efforts, The city has been reluctant to take steps that might imperil its real estate growth, which added more than $329 million in taxes in 2015.

The Florida building code requires all new construction, except one and two-family dwellings, be elevated one foot above the current floodplain. Fort Lauderdale follows that code, and hasn’t required anything stricter except to include single family and duplex homes.

Already, water regularly creeps over our sea walls, lapping against foundations every few weeks. When the earth, moon and sun align to drive waters as much as 18 inches above normal, the resulting King Tides inundate whole streets and neighborhoods.

The city is working hard to put climate resiliency measures in place, but they face a nearly impossible foe. Scientists have been predicting our region will experience well over 200 days of flooding annually by 2060.

Meanwhile our City leaders have directed the spending of our Water and Sewer funds to fix a budget shortfall of the WAVE Streetcar for their corrupt cronies downtown at the DDA.

According to National Geographic Magazine: “The oceans could rise two feet by 2060, according to the National Climate Assessment, as their waters warm and expand and as the Greenland and polar ice sheets melt. By 2100 seas could rise as much as 6.6 feet. That would put much of Miami-Dade underwater. For every foot the seas rise, the shoreline would move inland 500 to 2,000 feet…..

“It’s almost like, ‘Shhhh. Don’t talk about it,’ and so it’s not real,” says Richard Grasso, an environmental law professor at Fort Lauderdale’s Nova Southeastern University.”


A recent article published in Inside Climate News quoted Jenni Morejon, who until a few weeks ago served as Director of Fort Lauderdale’s Department of Sustainable Development. Morejon had full oversight of the Bahia Mar proposal.

Morejon said Fort Lauderdale couldn’t make huge changes to its building code without “direct and dramatic economic impact… It wouldn’t be palatable to developers.”

Morejon went on to explain that the plan is to introduce stricter building standards gradually over the next half-century as climate projections, technology and construction methods improve. “But yes, that means you’ll have some buildings built in the last five years that likely won’t make it in next 30 to 40 years,” she said.

The biggest economic challenge posed by climate change in South Florida may be one that business leaders are loath to discuss—that fear of this slow-speed crisis could stall development. 

Remember, if you see Mayor Seiler please thank him for keeping taxes low.




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