Iconic Fort Lauderdale businesses including the bar Treasure Trove and the Gym at Fort Lauderdale Beach have been ordered to close within six months, according to several owners. In their place will rise yet another beachside hotel.
Within six months, owners say, the 20,600-square-foot Aquatic Center Plaza at SE Fifth Street and South Fort Lauderdale Beach Boulevard will be demolished.
“They bought the building last May, and we knew they bought it to demolish everything and build a hotel here,” says Koby Azoulay, the owner of Basix Fashions and a building tenant for more than 15 years. But he says the businesses are being pushed out early. “The main thing we don’t understand is that if the city and architects are not going to be ready for years... why put us out of business now? Give us more time to find something as they figure everything out.”
At the beginning of April, owners of Aquatic Center Plaza's small businesses — including the Treasure Trove, the Gym, Basix Fashions, St. Bart’s Coffee Company, and Emoto USA — received letters from their landlord, New York-based G Holdings, notifying them that their leases would be terminated October 1. Other entities within the complex include a Jimmy John’s sub shop, the bar 5 O’Clock Charlies, and Beach Shack Paddleboards.
A subsidiary of G Holdings, Granitefl LLC purchased the property in 2017 from Sophia Enterprises for $18.7 million. According to Fort Lauderdale records, a 213-room hotel with a restaurant, outdoor seating, and retail space is planned for the property. G Holdings did not immediately respond to calls and emails from New Times.
After the 2017 purchase, affected business owners expected an eventual demolition. However, the abruptness of the lease termination has left several baffled.
Emoto USA, which rents and sells electric scooters, is the newest building tenant. After moving in weeks ago, founders Guido Gomez Ferrari and Christian Lazzarini are now having to look for a new space.
“We just opened here like a month ago,” Ferrari says. “We were told, ‘Oh, no worries, it’ll be at least one or two years before this happens.’ We just finished the storefront, have everything clean and organized, and now have to leave.”
Jodi Goldstein has owned the Gym for more than a year. Amid the news, she is determined to find an eventual new home for the Gym’s 600-plus members. But it'll be difficult to find a space comparable to the rooftop gym with panoramic ocean views, which the current space has boasted for years.
“As a small-business owner on the beach, it’s just not right as to what is happening,” Goldstein says. “But Fort Lauderdale is taking the course of everywhere else."
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One of the longest-standing tenants on the beach, Treasure Trove owner Jeff Rudd, echoes that sentiment and adds a few choice words.
“We’re killing off all our local bars,” he says. “You want a local place that has character. You want to explore what Fort Lauderdale has to offer. I’ve owned this business for 23 years, and they gave me six months' notice. How about we get our shit together before we destroy everything?"