Commissioners to determine fate of giant tree in Fort Lauderdale

Protesters argue 90-year-old tree could die if moved for residential project


FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – The fate of a giant tree in Fort Lauderdale could be determined soon.

Commissioners were expected Tuesday night to give final approval to a new condominium development in Fort Lauderdale, where an African Rain Tree currently lives, or quash the project altogether.

Inside city hall, supporters of Marina Lofts, a residential project proposed to be built along the New River, donned yellow shirts and signed up to speak in favor of the development.

But a vocal contingent of concerned residents has been protesting the project for months, and also vowed to speak before commissioners on Tuesday.

Protesters argued that if the 90-year-old tree is uprooted and moved, as part of the plan should Marina Lofts be built, it could die.

As of late Tuesday, more than 4,200 people signed an online petition to stop the Marina Lofts development and effectively save the Rain Tree.

Jessica Kross, a vocal opponent of the project who helped gather those petitions, was one of many public speakers who waited until after 10 p.m. to make comments.

"The building is not in keeping with the historical district. It's overly large," Kross told the commission.

Kross said she believes the arborist hired by Marina Lofts gave an overly-positive prognosis of the tree's survival once moved.

"The tree will take years to die a slow, horrible, death," Kross said.

Dan Lindblade, president of the Greater Fort Lauderdale Chamber of Commerce, said the development would be important for the city.

"Not only because of the jobs it creates, but because of the vision it creates," he said.

Like other speakers who support the development, Lindblade said Marina Lofts would be a job-creator.

"We need to always have those economic drivers out there to keep those tax dollars coming in," Lindblade said.

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