What was marketed as a large, luxe gay resort will not be built in gay-friendly Wilton Manors, the developers have decided after months of resident protests about traffic, density and noise.
Last week G Worldwide yanked its application, and a company representative said officials have soured on the city and will seek a site for the G Resort elsewhere in eastern Broward County.
Residents of east Wilton Manors who had organized angry protests and besieged commissioners for the past three months declared victory.
"It was nothing personal," said John Fiore, the openly gay former mayor who led the protest. "We were fighting for our neighborhood, our property values and our quality of life."
"This truly was an outstanding example of home-grown citizen activism," said Fiore, president of Save East Wilton Manors.
He had amassed 650 signatures for a petition that was destined for a planning and zoning meeting in January. Hundreds of protesters were expected to show up and complain about traffic and noise.
Fiore said the protesters had started a corporation to raise about $3,000 to hire an urban planner to fight the project.
The plan for the resort called for 120 hotel rooms and timeshare units, a nightclub, fitness center, spa, restaurants, art gallery, pools and a performance theater on 350,000 square feet. A first-floor garage, with a lift system for stacking vehicles in twos, would have had 525 parking spots.
The resort would have been five stories at its entrance on Northeast 26th Street, a commercial road, and three stories closest to the surrounding single-family homes and three-story condo building.
Resort officials wanted to be in Wilton Manors, where an estimated 40 percent of nearly 13,000 residents are gay.
But neighbors didn't want the resort so close to their homes. They destroyed the project for the city, said Dean Trantalis, a Wilton Manors attorney for G Worldwide.
The company first wanted to buy the 6-acre Middle River Trailer Park off Northeast 24th Street, between Dixie Highway and 15th Avenue. But members of the family that owns the property couldn't agree on whether to sell.
Then G Worldwide contracted with the First Church of Religious Science to buy a 4-acre site at 1550 NE 26th St. for $3.7 million.
"People within that neighborhood staged a very loud and angry protest and apparently shook up members of the City Commission, and they refused to even discuss it with me," Trantalis said. "At that point, the church board and my board both came to the conclusion we were wasting our time at that site, and it soured our interest in Wilton Manors altogether.
"We're saying goodbye to Wilton Manors and moving on to other sites within the area," he said.
He said resort officials were shouted down at neighborhood meetings. "It was a very rude and unfortunate encounter which has created a chilling effect."
Fiore said the residents weren't the rude ones, it was supporters of the G Resort. "They're the ones who have been stealing our signs, have been insulting to us on Facebook and playing games."
"We have taken the high road," Fiore said. "We wish them luck in their new location."
Mayor Gary Resnick said, "A lot of people in Wilton Manors were upset about this for no reason."
Still, he said, it may have been a case of much ado about nothing.
"I was never confident they had financing to go forward, anyhow," he said. "I asked them to provide [papers showing] financing commitment and they never did."
Source: Media Partner - Sun Sentinel