Developer Discusses Plan To Preserve, Move Six-Story Rain Tree in Fort Lauderdale

Asi Cymbal says he's putting up a million dollars to preserve and transfer the giant tree

A giant rain tree was back in the spotlight on Earth Day in downtown Fort Lauderdale.

Developer Asi Cymbal celebrated Earth Day at the rare tree – an Albizia Saman, also known as a monkeypod – where he plans to build an eco-friendly urban community called Marina Lofts.

“I can legally cut down many trees here. That’s not where my mind or soul are,” Cymbal said. “For me it’s important to preserve life that’s been around for so long.”

Cymbal says he is putting up a million dollars for the preservation and transfer of the six-story tall rain tree. In order to do that, he will need permission from the city to move it a block away.

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A little more than a month ago, Chris Brennan claimed his mission to save the rain tree got him fired from his Water Taxi job. Brennan said he was fired after Cymbal didn’t like a YouTube video he posted on the issue and contacted his boss, Bill Walker. The Water Taxi is to be featured inside Marina Lofts.

Both Cymbal and Walker told the South Florida Sun Sentinel then that the developer didn’t ask for Brennan to be fired. Brennan said that he was given an ultimatum of taking down his video and stopping his protest or being fired – and he chose the latter.

The process of moving the rain tree from Southwest 4th Avenue to its new location a block away will be a difficult process that will take two days. If it happens, it will involve moving 77 trees in all, and working with Florida Power & Light to get power lines underground.

Bob Brennan, who has been an arborist for 43 years, said at the Marina Lofts event Monday that he is confident the tree will be preserved.

“It’s all a matter of science and doing it correctly,” he said.

He estimated that the tree is worth just over $100,000.

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While some people agree with the move, many of Chris Brennan’s YouTube followers do not.
Cymbal said he believes he can build and preserve at the same time, however.

“I believe you can have your cake and eat it too. You can create a world-class community and have it stand as a model for eco-friendly development,” he said.

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