Traffic in South Florida is bad and getting worse every year. While smaller cities, like Wilton Manors, don’t have major traffic issues (other than when streets flood or a slow-moving train rolls through), many worry the problem is coming.
A proposed hotel on Dixie Highway south of Five Points, has support from community leaders and many of its neighborhoods. The drawings promise beautiful aesthetics. There is general agreement that the city needs a boutique hotel.
But opinions diverge when it comes to neighborhood impact. The proposed Wilton Hotel & Pool Club would be 123 rooms, eight stories (including parking) and offer amenities to guests and the community. Large murals by local artists would adorn the exterior. However, debate is raging online over the details.
OutSFL posted a hotel story in the Wilton Community News Facebook discussion group, and debate has been brisk and somewhat contentious. Cathy LaLonde sums up both sides of the discussion. “I think it will be beautiful, but I’m a little concerned about the traffic.”
Dixie Highway is still only two lanes at the site, and the road quickly backs up when Five Points is congested, especially when a train is coming by. “There is plenty of traffic on Dixie and Five Points with one lane in each direction,” Glen Weinzimer, co-owner of Bona Italian restaurant, said. “Someone stops to make a turn and everything backs up. People cut through the CVS to avoid 5 points.”
Neighborhood resident Jeff Osmond says redevelopment is part of life in any growing city, be it large like Boston or small like Wilton Manors.
“I live in Wilton Station, a stone's throw away. This is one of three (Ed: Proposed) major developments near the Five Points Corner. There will obviously be a lot more traffic, but I do feel the tax revenue generated outweighs any issues these developments will create.”
Many are concerned about parking. Current plans call for about 120 spots, all valet. Developers have asked to have fewer, but there doesn’t seem to be much appetite by city officials to grant that request. People in favor of fewer spots say many travelers won’t have cars, opting instead for ride-share or other transportation.
Others say fewer spots means fewer places for hotel employees to park and for locals visiting the hotel for an event.
“Too many projects all happening at once, probably all under construction about the same time,” Weinzimer opined. “Traffic is an issue now, parking is an issue now.”
Westside resident Jake Valentine says he’s seen this all before.
“It is all so reminiscent of when Wilton Station was proposed and being built and the doom and gloom and traffic that was going to destroy Five Points and Wilton Manors as we know it. No one is ‘entitled’ to a view or current status of property you don't own. Remember that everyone who lives here lives on a plot of land that was developed!”
Developers are working with the city to address code and zoning issues. Once that is completed, the project will go to the Planning & Zoning (P&Z) board for more review.