Wilton Manors commissioners are generally in support of the proposed pool facility at 550 E. Oakland Park Blvd. But concerns about parking and the possible future use of the property may prevent them from approving it. Whether or not the city approves the project will be determined at a future meeting. The building has been unoccupied since at least 2011 after Goodwill moved out.
John Grzeszczak, head coach of Hammerhead Aquatics, is requesting that the city change the zoning from Light Industrial to General Business [B-3]. He also wants to renovate the facility and expand it by 9,264 square feet. If approved, the total square feet would be 30,945. Grzeszczak said the facility will be named after June Krauser, known as the “Mother of Masters Swimming” who died in 2014. “She wrote the rule book for masters swimming. She was world famous and she lived right here in Wilton Manors.”
In addition to the main 50-meter pool, the renovated facility would include a therapy pool, office, gift/pro shop, locker room, outdoor kitchen, and a 5,300 square foot rooftop deck.
The facility will have 35 parking spaces. Roberta Moore, director of Community Development Services, said 151 were required but that there was no way that many could be incorporated into the site. The deck, parking, and the possibility that the site could one day be purchased and turned into a bar were concerns voiced by commissioners.
“I hope they schedule their events wisely. Maybe Uber will have a lot of business,” said Commissioner Tom Green. “I don’t know how you have any event with 35 spaces,” said Commissioner Scott Newton. “For a city that talks about parking, I am stunned,” said Commissioner Julie Carson.
Newton also talked about the noise that would be generated by people using the rooftop deck and how that would impact the people living next and near to the property. Newton said he has to keep their quality of life in mind. “I need some assurances.”
The Planning & Zoning Board approved the project on Feb. 12 with 10 variances, including parking. Residents who have spoken about the project have mostly been supportive. The president of one of the condo associations that is next to the property said he and his board support the project. But one resident told The Gazette he’s worried about parking and noise.
Grzeszczak said the parking and noise concerns were “unfounded” and that Hammerhead Aquatics has never had a noise complaint and has the backing of the adjacent condos. “This is a daytime business,” said Grzeszczak. Asked what the closing time of the facility would be, he estimated 8 or 9. He added that it would be later for holidays, like July 4th, but those would be rare and still not unreasonable.
Mayor Gary Resnick brought up the possibility that the site, after it is rezoned, could eventually be sold to someone who wants to open a bar. “If it’s rezoned, it’s permanently rezoned,” he said.
To prevent that from happening, Resnick suggested the city place some kind of conditions on the property. City Attorney Kerry Ezrol suggested that restrictive covenants might be an option to prevent a future owner from opening a bar there or other unwanted use. Grzeszczak said he would own the facility for “forever and a day” and that “It’s going to be something that brings business into this city besides a bar.”
Vice Mayor Justin Flippen asked about what kind of businesses could open at the site under its current zoning. Moore said a boat storage yard and laundry facility are two allowed uses. Flippen commented that if an industrial business were to be located there, instead of the pool, trucks could be coming in and out at all hours of the day.