The city’s push to create incentives for a spine of downtown office towers leading to the waterfront gets a key hearing Wednesday before the Downtown Action Committee.
The plan to create the Okeechobee Business District, which would stretch down Okeechobee Boulevard from Rosemary Avenue to Flagler Drive, was prompted by Related Urban Development’s desire to rezone a property 300 feet from the Flagler waterfront to allow a 25-story Class A tower.
An analysis by city staff said jobs and other economic benefits of adding top-tier offices would outweigh the loss of nearby condo residents’ and office tenants’ views and would create open public space along the waterfront, while preserving the historic First Church of Christ Scientist, beside which the tower would rise.
The city’s Planning Board unanimously agreed at its July 26 meeting. The DAC approval represents a final hurdle before the city commission hears the matter at an as-yet-unscheduled date.
Opponents say creating the Okeechobee Business District amounts to poorly disguised spot zoning to allow the developer’s 25-story tower in an area that a 1996 voters’ referendum restricted to 5 stories. They say it would generate traffic at the already busy entry to the Royal Park Bridge and violate voters’ desire to keep tall buildings off the waterfront.
The DAC meeting starts at 9 a.m. in the city hall auditorium.