Hotel Near Everglades Too Close for Comfort

Environmentalists bothered by $450 million development in Sunrise

A controversial building proposal in Sunrise that would put a massive hotel complex right on the border of the Everglades is a little too close for comfort for some local activists.

Much to the chagrin of environmentalists, the large, 22-acre parcel of land just north of Sunrise was zoned for business development 20 years ago, and now developers have big plans for it.

The proposal: an 11-story, 350-room hotel including three office towers, right on the edge of the Everglades.

Part of the Everglades Corporate Park project, the $450 million development would have nearly 650,000 square feet of office space and 30,000 square feet of commercial space.

Sunrise city commissioners delayed a decision Tuesday night on whether to permit the project to go ahead, but not before hearing from local environmentalists.

"That would be the first commercial development in Broward County on the west side of the Sawgrass Expressway," said Phil Busey, with the Broward Sierra Club. "We can't necessarily stop the project totally."

Instead, Busey and others want to make sure the developers respect the two million acre wetland ecosystem that provides drinking water for South Florida.

"Worst case scenario is that somehow there's a leak or a pollution that gets into the aquifer," said Ryan. "There's gonna have to be a lot of care and a lot of study done to make sure we're not facing another BP in our Everglades." 

Dennis Mele, the attorney representing the developers, said his clients will be taking all environmental needs into consideration.

"Of course they care about the environment," Mele said. "None of our drainage goes into the Everglades."

City officials are expected to take up the issue at their next meeting May 25 at 6:30 p.m.

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