Lauderdale-by-the-Sea, the small beach town embraces the big uptown wave
by Wayne Koss
Kai Stadler and Goran Dragoslavic
Developers of SkY 230 Townhomes
With a bustling beach side down town square area that boasts numerous restaurant offerings of vast choices of notable food and entertainment—this small town of just over 6,000 residents has gone more uptown aesthetically in the last few years and continues to do so in a big way.
The drawbridge of Commercial Boulevard welcomes all here from Fort Lauderdale on the west side and the narrow road of A1A to the north resides Pompano Beach and north Fort Lauderdale Beach to the south. No highway here—it's more akin to life in the slow lane of days gone bye and people all about seem to like it that way. With restrictions of a 4 story building in height in the town—high risers are only above and below the town area. Yet that has not stopped big projects to work within these parameters in the last decade including major builder Mintos have built multiple phases of the Villas By The Sea along A1A and the ocean side El Mar Drive. A few other significant developers over the last decade are making their mark in this highly desired and still quite exclusive area too. Perhaps the most notable recent home project is SkY230, a few streets in from the beach on the south side of Lauderdale-By-The-Sea where the scene is quieter in tone alongside the beautiful tree aligned Sea Grape Drive. The thoroughfare is also pedestrian, dog and bike friendly with its enchanting small town feel.
Within this serene setting a big change is taking place with a beautiful small living community of 29 upscale SkY230 homes replacing several single family homes that have faded in beauty, health and certainly safety standards like so many of these older dwellings that where built as winter homes for seasonal residents many years ago.
Spectacular Land, Sea & Sky Views
You don’t have to be a devout naturalist to enjoy natures beauty at your feet in this locale. On the west backside boats are docked in a peaceful water canal that leads to the Intracoastal waterway within a very short distance.
A simple climb up the SkY230 stairwell or elevator here and you are immersed in exquisite ocean views to the east. A rooftop terrace allows a vast view of both worlds. The flow of tropical wonderment dances about with the change of tide and rising and setting of sun alongside tropical breezes. No matter what direction you gaze upon its universally astounding and certainly paradise found. This all arrives without taking any stock in the likelihood that your boat will be docked below to lead you to more pleasure zones.
If you opt for a terrestrial walk, town square and the quaint downtown amenities are a short enjoyable picturesque walk and the beach is even less of a short trek from SkY230. A free area town shuttle bus is also a popular choice of residents among visitors.
"I’m a big fan of Lauderdale-By-The-Sea; That’s why I like to live and work here—this project is my first choice among projects to pursue because I’m passionate about this town. Within a one mile radius I have my home, my project SkY230, my office, my favorite restaurants and my beach: For my family this is paradise, and the new owners of our finished SkY230 units feel the same...” Developer and Managing Partner of SkY230, Kai Stadler expresses with a verve of enthusiasm.
“I also like that we don’t build 20-plus story tall hi-rises like Fort Lauderdale does (South side) and Pompano Beach (North side). The big attraction here is the smaller 6000 people community—it's very enjoyable. Fort Lauderdale is building too fast in my opinion. They are over-stressing the infrastructure which can't keep up comfortably with the growth. Downtown Fort Lauderdale has the same size streets it had 25 years ago, yet there are many times more people living there, and all are leaving to and coming home from work at the same time—it’s very difficult to deal with from a city planing aspect...
With our more restrictive building requirements in place here in Lauderdale-By-The-Sea, we will never have to deal with the traffic problems of those overbuilt areas. With the footprint in place, this town has streets and an infrastructure that can handle the future developments within the permissible parameters our very capable and forth seeing town management has set.,” Kai Stadler expresses.
He now shares his excitement of living the good life of Lauderdale-By-The-Sea with others in the length of each day.”
Kai Stadler arrived here from Germany 28 years ago and has been an area resident since. “I owned 2 units of Marina Village townhomes during the market recession in 2007. I started to rent the units out short-term to vacationers to be able to pay for the mortgages that were considered excessive based on the mass devaluation of property back then. I saw the land around it sitting vacant since the owner, discouraged by the recession, ceased its development and left behind a cement shell with no windows that reminded one more of war torn ruins than of a tranquil and picturesque beach town. I had been watching that land for a long time because my business that I started was growing for vacationers, creating a demand for new and safe homes in this market. With that aspect I sought out to find the person who owned this land and, through an attorney in Fort Lauderdale, reached out to China where he is from. He owned the land along with grandfathered in permits, allowing to build 3 story's vertical plus adding an elaborate roof top terrace where you can see the ocean and feel close to the sky with unrestricted surround views, hence the name SkY230 (the number being the original street address); With more height restrictive changes in place nowadays which were imposed some years ago, building a SkY230 alike structure is no longer possible, making our project even more valuable.
In May of 2013, the seller and I struck a deal where I contracted for the property and the rights to build per his grandfathered permits. I then reached out to find partners to join me in the swing for development; I had to manage a purchase price of nearly $6 million for the land and permits alone, but that was just the beginning of the financial challenge: With three construction phases in planning requiring up to $10 Million each, I needed help! And help I found in my friend and real estate guru Goran Dragoslavic from Serbia, who was instrumental with making available his expertise and banking relations to make SkY230 a reality. After completing 19 units in two construction phases, we now are in midst of constructing the third phase with 12 units under the watch of our very capable builder Stephan Hausmann from Germany who has a profound understanding of engineering and the gift to build complex structures in his mind just by looking at architectural plans, avoiding conflicts before they become expensive and time consuming mistakes,” Kai Stadler said.
''Homes at Sky230 range from 2,500 sq. ft. up to 3,500 (A/C space) with lofty 10 foot ceilings, bathrooms occupying each floor with 3 and 4 bedroom units. An elevator and elegant stairway are both available to traverse the 4 storeys of substantive elegance. Prices ranges from $1 through $2.5 million in this sea of luxury.
“We can’t build any more luxurious than the quality we are building—it's maxed out in construction cost. Today $100 a square foot is considered low end. $150 you can do some nice stuff, $200 is considered luxury, we are at $275. We have frameless glass stairway rails, floating stairs, stainless steel everything, private elevators and 36 x 36 quartz plates that are of the highest standards used. What we have considered doing is building some smaller units. On the average we are building 3000 thru 5000 square feet with 2 outdoor spaces,” Kai Stadler said. Needless to say there are a lot of different environments in these spaces.
“Sky230 is built to sustain intense hurricanes—It's a safe haven. That is the purpose and intention of building the way we built it. It's also environmentally friendly where we have attained significant lower energy consumption in the space than standard buildings. A big feature are the windows which are UV light repellent where they do not let the sunlight heat up the rooms or let the cool air out. The whole SkY230 building is solid concrete and steel so there is no point of attack for wind to possible lift up a roof or remove shingles because their are none. Thereis zero wood used other than for decorative purposes and the windows have the highest impact rating available on the market. Also, with the lack of the wooden trusses, there's no way for the cool air to escape from the top or warm air to come in so energy consumption is very low. We brought in natural gas to SkY230 so we can cook and heat with it. The rain water is collected from the entire roof area and drains to the south east corner of the property where we have drilled a 250 foot deep hole to return the valuable rain back into the ground level water. It does not flow off into the canal or street. We take out what we need for the sprinklers and the rest is recycled back to the ground so the rain water is preserved—that’s as good as it gets.
We raised the entire ground level at SkY230 above flood level so flood insurance becomes obsolete. The ground floor of the garage is raised by another 1 foot before you walk into the ground level of the building.
Additionally the power lines are underground providing extended safety and a higher level of beauty too. “The storms blow above not below so we will be safe in hurricanes; While others may have no electricity we will have A/C, be cooking, and watching TV... so life goes on. SkY230 will also have major back up generators, if the town permits” Kai Stadler said.
The heavy isolation created throughout the building for heat coolness also creates very low sound levels. Notable upon my walk through I could not even hear the large crane that was radiating a loud noise upon our entry to the building. I voiced this and Kai Stadler responded, “We built SkY230 this way above what's required by law. We build safe, above flood level and environmentally friendly and sustainable. SkY230 is in essence a perfect living community. This way you don't cause any damage to the environment and you're in a very safe home.
A lot of the wall structures in the older homes are not strong enough to hold high impact windows well. The roofs will likely blow off as the wood trusses and shingles are weak, and then the house is destroyed. There is also too much electrical load in most of these buildings with modern appliances and other upgrades, making them not good investments for people who own them.
They do not fit the usefullness of the land they are placed upon. We need to replace the old outdated structures and build desirable safe and environmental friendly, efficient buildings. That's the way to go, that's what we are doing,” Kai Stadler expressed.
Even along a well charted course often comes a new revelation experience that surfaces. “We've noticed that not everyone is needing a 4 bedroom place with a 3000-5000 sq. ft. living area , particularly for snowbirds and empty nesters who are downsizing. We have had many from Weston (Florida) who want to come back to the beach. They are saying: "we love your style at SkY230, we love your design—we love everything that you've done, yet we don't need this many bedrooms or this much space".
In the next SkY230 phase we are looking to go smaller. Yet that depends on the density we aregoing to be allowed to build by the town. This will allow more units per acre. It will be the same style, and the same quality, just smaller for those who desire less space. Not everyone is into the multi-level either. As people get older they tend to want to be on a single level. We have elevators for all floors in each unit and that helps, but nevertheless, if you forget your book in the bedroom you need to go back up there. It's a trip when you're older. We are looking to accommodate everyone in the final phase with a one level area with about +/- 2000 square foot space—that's still plenty of space. At SkY230 we have been listening to make it a diverse community so everyone fits-in and everyone is happy,” Kai Stadler expressed.
SkY230 of Lauderdale-By-The-Sea ^Living Room
Notable SkY230 is considered a very desirable location, reasonably priced for what you get, and therefore a good investment. Helping that equation is that you only need to purchase a boat slip if you choose to do so.
“Every area in the county has only so many dock spaces that they allow for boats and this town is maxed out. We took the last 24 boat slips and we offer for sale separately. Their not available for to outsiders because we don’t want people coming to SkY230 and using the homeowner's pool and other amenities. When we go to our phase four we have a contingency of 12 more dock spaces that we hope to have in place.
Working with town of Lauderdale-By-The-Sea is like being part of a good team: They seem to have a lot of respect for what we are doing at SkY230 . It means a lot to us having their talents guiding us—very much appreciated with this major project. It's good for all, for we are building a better community for us and future generations.
Given the positive impact SkY230 has made on its neighborhood, and not just from the beautifying but also from a value adding aspect, we are considering a fourth phase and will soon pledge to the neighbors and town officials to allow us to do so. There is a very small sleeve on both sides of Sea Grape Drive south of Commercial Boulevard that is zoned RD 10 (RD 10 allows 2 family duplex structures up to 10 dwellings per acre), while its surroundings on all sides are zoned RM 25 (RM 25 allows for multi units/apartments up to 25 dwellings per acre).
Making the entire area a unified RM 25 zoning would be highly beneficial aesthetically with the continuity the recent buildings have added. Besides the fresh and clean look and higher property values it would bring to the area residents,” Kai Stadler said.
Recognizing their significant contribution of SkY230 in substantively providing a tremendous positive change to the living standards and safety for the community, it only seems likely that more of a good thing for the now and extended future will be most welcomed.
By Carl S. Marzola
CIPS, CRS, CRB President of Atlantic Properties International, Inc. of Fort Lauderdale
Types of Waterfront Property:
Special Issues for Homes on the Water:
Nothing says “Florida lifestyle” more clearly than a home on the water. Some benefits are obvious: fresh breezes, panoramic views and boating convenience. Others are more subtle: Manatees may visit your backyard and water taxis can drop you off at your dock.
But all waterfront property is not created equal. If you’re new to this area (or simply new to the market for waterfront real estate), check out the following definitions, tips and cautions gleaned from local experts.
Oceanfront dwellings are usually larger and more prestigious than their inland counterparts. But they’re also in shorter supply. Fort Lauderdale doesn’t have much residential oceanfront property available either for single-family homes or for condominiums.
It is hard to think of negatives associated with oceanfront property—except for weather and taxes. To address the former, make sure your oceanfront home is equipped with the new grade hurricane shutters, and have an evacuation plan mapped out.
While taxes on oceanfront single-family homes are exorbitant, those on condominiums are shared and hence more affordable.
Other issues relevant to oceanfront property include privacy and aesthetics. Although beach access from the street may be limited by the owner of a home or condominium, ocean beachfront in Florida is public. Consequently, pedestrians coming from any point along the water’s edge legitimately can enter the beach behind your property.
If thoughts of an ocean view tempt you to purchase a beachfront condominium, weigh the pros and cons. During the day, you’ll behold the ocean in all its moods; but at night, you’ll see only blackness—unless some of your windows face the city.
Properties along the Intracoastal Waterway also offer pleasing views; large, prestigious homes, and convenience for boat owners. But be aware of two potential problems: boat traffic, especially on weekends, and noise, especially in areas without wake restrictions. During the winter season, minimum wake is in effect for most of the Intracoastal; but noise can’t be controlled completely.
Seawalls require maintenance based on their location, and most problems occur because people do not maintain them. As a prospective buyer of waterfront property, you’ll want to have a licensed marine contractor check the condition of the seawall carefully before you close on the deal. (See seawalls following.)
Deepwater (no fixed bridges)
Be careful. “Deepwater” doesn’t necessarily mean that the water is deep. It means there are no fixed bridges between you and the ocean. This benefit is most important to owners of sailboats. Generally speaking, the further East you go, the more expensive deepwater property becomes. All Intercostal waterfront is deepwater, as well as property along various inlets and the New River and many of its canals.
Ocean Access Waterfront
“Ocean access” means that there is one fixed bridge or more between your property and the ocean. To capitalize on this option, which is less expensive than deepwater property, make sure your boat is small enough to pass under the stationary bridges at high tide.
Keep in mind that the distance from your home to the ocean can cause inconvenience. If your home is on a river or canal that’s way West of U.S. 1 and your nautical activities involve the ocean, you may have a long boat ride ahead of you, especially at “no wake” speed. Take a look at a map and see what route you would take to the nearest inlet. (The Broward/Boca area has 3 major inlets: Port Everglades, Hillsboro, and Boca Raton.) If boating is important to you, ask your real estate representative about how long it takes to reach an inlet.
Lakes Or Canals With No Outlet
These properties offer the buyer beauty and value; but obviously, nautical activity in these small, often man-made bodies of water must be self-contained. Many lakes and canals have boating restrictions. so be sure you know the rules. Also be aware; manmade lakes can be very deep and often are not safe for swimming. After a few feet of gradual decline from the water’s edge, some lakes then have sharp drop-offs. Don’t assume that an attractive water view means either boating or swimming activities are recommended.
Special Issues for Waterfront Property: Seawalls
Most homes directly on water need a seawall, which acts as a retaining wall. Seawalls come in two varieties. The more modem and reliable is the T-pile wall, made of piled concrete and wall panels joined with hydraulic cement seals. More antiquated (and no longer built for new homes) is the coral rock seawall.
Prospective home buyers should have a licensed marine contractor check property with existing seawalls for any depressions or pot holes in the lawn. These would indicate one of the two common problems attendant upon seawalls: “seepage” or “undermining.” Seepage occurs when the “fill” (earth from your property) escapes through cracks in the seawall’s cement seals. Undermining occurs when the tide pulls the fill out from under your wall.
When seepage and undermining cause large voids behind the seawall, it receives uneven pressure from the water that pushes upon it. Eventually, the seawall becomes unstable and can move or collapse.
Seepage in T-pile walls can be corrected by replacing the cracked seals. Seepage in coral rock walls can be corrected through refacing. Both types of walls need to be refurbished every four to five years if they’ve been properly installed.Undermining occurring with both types of walls is corrected by a “footer,” an extension of your seawall built down under the water into the “berm” (canal, river or ocean bottom). A footer gives your seawall better penetration so that no dirt gets washed out from underneath.
How much can you expect to spend on seawall maintenance? While a footer can last 20 years, seals and facing need more frequent attention. The cost of upkeep depends on the size of your wall since sealing and facing prices go by the foot. Proper maintenance of an average seawall could mean an investment of $750-$1,000-plus every few years.
As a prospective home buyer, you needn’t worry about detecting signs of wear on an existing dock. Damage from rotting will be clearly visible. But don’t just use visual cues—stand on the dock to see if it feels sturdy. For complete peace of mind, check underneath to see if the wood has rotted where the dock is attached to the seawall and whether the pilings are bolted securely to the dock’s sub-structure.
Painting docks made of pressure-treated lumber is not recommended because the alcohol in paint makes the wood rot faster. Instead, use a wood life preserver like Thompson’s Water Seal. A dock’s longevity depends on weather conditions, marine life and tidal levels. If sea water rarely rises high enough to wash over the dock’s top boards, they can last 15 years. Pilings generally last 30 years, but new techniques have increased their lifespan by an additional 15 years. Many marine contractors are now wrapping pilings with polyethylene casing between the high water and low water lines. Through a similar process, wormy piling can be wrapped and filled with concrete.
Boat Lifts And Davits
If you own a boat, you have 2 options for dry docking it: a “boat lift” is an elevator or cradle onto which you drive your boat. These are used for boats ranging in size from 3,000-30,000 pounds. A “davit” is an arm that mounts on a sea wall or piling and lifts your boat out of the water. Davits are not designed for large boats.
Having a boat lift or davit on your property helps you avoid the cost of painting and cleaning your boat once a year. Owning one of these is a matter of preference and convenience rather than necessity.
How much are boat lifts and davits worth?
They can range from $3,000 to $25,000—even $30,000. Don’t select a boat lift or davit until you know the size and weight of the boat to be held; check with your city to see what restrictions apply to the use of boat lifts and davits; and before you install either one, always have your seawall inspected by a licensed contractor to make sure the wall is strong enough to bear the extra weight.
One final note of caution: when you retain a marine contractor for any reason: make sure he or she is licensed and insured and that the appropriate permits for your job have been pulled and displayed. If these forms haven’t been followed and an injury occurs on your property, the responsibility will be yours.
According to James Sheehan, emergency management coordinator for the City of Fort Lauderdale, the further East you go, the greater the risk during a hurricane. And the greatest cause for concern is not wind or flooding but “storm surge” — a wall of water coming in from the ocean that can result in several feet.