Motwanis’ Merrimac Ventures Wins OK for Denser, Taller Condo Project

Dev Motwani and Nitin Motwani with a rendering of 530 North Birch Road (Adache Group Architects)

Merrimac Ventures won approval to expand its planned boutique condo development near the beach in Fort Lauderdale.

Fort Lauderdale commissioners on Thursday approved a site plan amendment that adds 11 units and a fourth floor, to create a four-story, 32-unit building at 530 North Birch Road.

Asking prices for condos will top $1,000 per square foot, said Dev Motwani, who runs Merrimac Ventures together with his brother Nitin Motwani.

The development site is in Fort Lauderdale’s Central Beach area. The property currently houses a 14-room hotel and a parking lot. The site is one block from the oceanfront and directly west of the new Four Seasons Residences Fort Lauderdale, which counts Merrimac Ventures among its co-developers.

“It’s right behind the Four Seasons. It’s just our family. We’ve owned the property for decades,” Dev Motwani told The Real Deal. “It will be a luxury boutique building that we may or may not brand. We haven’t decided yet.”

In 2019, Merrimac Ventures won city approval of the original site plan for a three-story condo with 21 units at 530 North Birch Road. But Motwani said construction was delayed by the pandemic and by slow progress on the city’s master plan of development for the Central Beach area, which was finally completed in May of this year.

“This is a master plan process that was going on for years. Then obviously, Covid slowed it down even more,” Motwani said. “The biggest change was, before, the code really kind of forced you to do these large units, you know, 3,000-plus square feet. Now you’re able to do more units in the same amount of space. That’s what allowed us to lower our unit sizes.”

Merrimac Ventures reduced the average unit size by 20 percent to about 2,300 square feet, “which will be a more affordable product,” according to a statement the company submitted to the city. The Fort Lauderdale City Commission unanimously approved the amended site plan at its Thursday meeting.

The amended site plan also raised the height of the planned condo from three stories to four stories, or from 120 feet to 144 feet. “Previously, you were [only] allowed to go up to 120 [feet],” Motwani said. The new plan also increased the number of parking spaces from 48 to 68 and added a
fourth level to the development’s parking podium.

Preconstruction sales will probably start in the upcoming winter tourism season, but Merrimac Ventures has not yet selected a brokerage to handle sales.

“We usually like to decide on that closer to launch, and we’re contemplating a launch this season,” Motwani said. “There are a couple other projects in the area that are selling, so we might decide to wait a little bit.”

The permitting phase of the unnamed condo project will take six to nine months, and construction will take 16 to 18 months, he said.

The market for the units will probably include residents of the Northeast
and foreign buyers as well as South Floridians, Motwani said.

“We also expect to see Miami-Dade residents moving north, and Broward residents who have a big house out west, and they’re either downsizing to move to a condo, or they just want a pied-à-terre.”

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