When the AquaVita Las Olas condominium opens late next year in the Hendricks Isle section of Fort Lauderdale, buyers will be able to swim in a salt-water pool, come and go in private elevators and park their boats steps from their front doors. What they won’t be able to do is smoke inside their own units.
Housing market observers say they aren’t aware of such a smoking ban in any of the more than two dozen condos being built across Broward and Palm Beach counties. The Florida Clean Indoor Air Act prohibits smoking inside public buildings, including the common areas of condo developments. That ban does not extend to individual units.
Only a small handful of existing condos in South Florida are believed to have amended their governing documents to ban smoking inside the units. AquaVita’s co-developer, Dennis Eisinger, is a real estate lawyer who represents community associations that have struggled with second-hand smoke seeping through adjacent walls.
He said he wanted to avoid that issue at the 22-unit AquaVita while also promoting a healthy environment.
“I’ve been passionate about this for years,” he said. Six units have sold so far at AquaVita, where prices range from $900,000 to $1.2 million, Eisinger said. He doesn’t expect the ban to hurt sales. In fact, he thinks it will help.
The only place AquaVita smokers can go for a cigar or cigarette is on their balconies. Violators will be fined up to $100 by the community association. Repeat offenders could be taken to court and slapped with an injunction, Eisinger said. A national smokers’ rights group said the ban is ridiculous.
“As the owner of the building, (the developers) have the right to set policy, and we have every right to scream how wrong they are,” said Audrey Silk, founder of the Brooklyn-based Citizens Lobbying Against Smoker Harassment. Peter Zalewski, principal of the CondoVultures consulting firm, said he doubts the ban will have any teeth.
AquaVita’s property manager will have trouble enforcing it, Zalewski said. And he said if Eisinger and his business partner, Jean Francois Roy, were serious about a ban, they would have extended it to include the balconies.”Pun intended: This is smoke and mirrors,” Zalewski said. “This is a marketing ploy more than anything else.”
Eisinger said he was serious about banning smoking everywhere at the condo. But in representing condo boards, Eisinger said he hasn’t come across complaints about balcony smoking, so he agreed to allow it at AquaVita, mostly to accommodate owners’ guests. But he insisted the balconies be separated by partitions.