CORAL SPRINGS, FL – After years of waiting, the massive downtown redevelopment project known as Cornerstone passed a major hurdle Wednesday in moving forward in Coral Springs, giving project designers key approvals to begin planning construction.

City commissioners unanimously supported the new complex with a “main street feel” at the southwest corner of University Drive and Sample Road -- more than 300,000-square-feet of space for offices, restaurants and retail shops, as well as a 138-unit hotel, 352 residential apartments, and two garages.

There was no hesitation in approving Cornerstone since city officials have long wanted the project from developer, Rod Sheldon of Boca Raton-based PreDevCo.

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“This is exactly what Coral Springs needs,” Commissioner Shawn Cerra said.

Commissioners said the office component is the real appeal of the project because it will bring workers into the downtown and encourage companies in overcrowded cities along the beach to move out west to Coral Springs where there is less traffic and congestion.

“The office space is the key to keeping people there,” Commissioner Larry Vignola said.

City Manager Frank Babinec said Coral Spring has an eight percent vacancy rate in office space. Cornerstone will have modern office space that will attract certain kinds of companies that aren’t interested in being in older buildings, officials said.

The vote taken Wednesday involved many technical requirements including bike lanes, floor heights, commercial frontage, and parking garages. Two more votes are needed to complete the city’s approvals, including one on final site plans.

Cornerstone will go in place of the outdated, 10-story Coral Spring Financial Plaza, which will be razed this summer. Project officials are already in talks with potential tenants for the complex.