Oldest Rain Tree in North America under threat from developers

Check out this Florida Fidelity video segment, brought to you by Florida native son and environmental activist, Chris Brennan, to learn about the history of the oldest rain tree in North America and its latest plight.

Also known as the Albizia saman, this massive tree had previously been protected by Broward County but is now under siege to make way for a three-tower, 30-plus storied condo development in Historic Downtown Fort Lauderdale along the New River.

In a colossal effort of glossy pretermission, the developer, Asi Cymbal and designer, Bjarke Ingels, are touting the banner of progress to justify their monstrous Marina Loft project in a city already blighted with a more than 20% foreclosure rate in the downtown area alone, and an overall 17% foreclosure rate across the state, the highest in the country.

The majority of Broward County Commissioners, though it is seated well within their jurisdiction to continue to protect this aged and beautiful natural resource, have instead tucked tail behind Florida’s Home Rule status and its conflicting Dillon’s Rule status to let the city decide what the fate of the rain tree will be. They cite their concern that passing such a resolution to name this tree an historical site would possibly ‘impede future development’. There have been suggestions by developer to simply move the tree. Sure. Did I mention the tree is almost 100 years old?

It’s also interesting to note that this project is thumping ‘sustainability’ as its design mantra and seeks to earn an LEED certification, which stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design and is an internationally recognized green building program.

Yes, you read that correctly; this project is promoting an ecologically sound and green agenda to win favor in the community while it actively seeks to destroy an historic and national treasure in order to be built. Illogical and contrary to the integrity of such a program, indeed.

After watching Brennan’s video, you’ll understand better why attempting to move this tree is a laughable notion and why independent arborists have deemed it folly to even consider it and indicate that disrupting the root system to relocate it to the cramped lot up the street that the developer suggests would ultimately kill the tree.

Determined to build, the developer has since consulted with the company that is contracted to move the White House Christmas tree each year in a shallow attempt to feign concern and save face in the community as enthusiasm for his project continues to wane as residents and visitors become more informed.

The effort to save the rain tree is certainly gaining momentum. New supporters get on board each day, signing the petition (which is not 100% accurate but has the right spirit at heart), and by vigorously circulating the previously released news stories and articles across social media forums. Here’s a good one by one of my fellow Examiners, Valerie J. Amor, from way back in December of last year that discusses in detail the  Broward County vote against protecting the tree that started it all. 

In fact, the fervor in support of saving this rain tree and thwarting the intended development plan has reached such a fever pitch that a most reliable source has informed me that Mr. Asi Cymbal, the developer himself, has taken a personal interest in the videographer Chris Brennan.

Asi Cymbal, after discovering Mr. Brennan’s name was somehow able to discern where Mr. Brennan is employed and went so far as to place a call to Mr. Brennan’s supervisor to complain about the video.

It would seem the plot thickens, so stay tuned, sign the petition and lend your support to save and preserve a national treasure in our own back yard.

{To stay current with the environmental and development issues that affect South Florida, be sure to follow Florida Fidelity‘s YouTube channel.}

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