Young Circle Block 55: 2008
April 5, 2008, 8:16 PM
Filed under: Corridors, CRA Districts, Development, Downtown, Young Circle

April 5, 2008

Right on the heels of the 25-story ArtsPark Village deal — that was initially approved this week in a 4-3 vote by Commissioners Asseff, Furr, Blattner, and Sherwood — comes ANOTHER proposed Young Circle tower, this one on the northeast side.  This latest mixed-use 25-story massive structure calls itself Hollywood Circle.  It is pictured below in a rendering supplied by the developer, Chip Abele.  On the left is the existing Radius condo building.

Proposed Hollywood Circle Development

This ponderous tower is to include a new Publix Supermarket which would be a welcome service in the neighborhood.  However, the traffic impacts of such a massive structure, with its hundreds of new residents and shoppers, seem daunting at best.  Access to the Publix loading docks will be from the narrow, residential Polk Street, and trucks leaving the docks will have to navigate turns onto 17th Avenue, Tyler Street and around Young Circle.  Current residents driving around the circle already experience gridlock backed up several blocks at certain times of the day.

Several years ago, with no due diligence check, the old City Commission/CRA promised this site to Chip Abele, the developer who also has a city contract to build on the west side of the circle.  There he plans to put a 19-story tower where the historic Great Southern Hotel stands.  The Great Southern project has been tied up in court since the city attempted to seize the Harrison Street Mach building by eminent domain to enlarge Mr. Abele’s site. For these two towers, the city promised Mr. Abele approximately $25 million of future tax revenue.

The developer will present Hollywood Circle to city staff’s Technical Advisory Committee on April 7 at 1:30 PM in City Hall, Room 215.  If staff sign off on the details now provided, the project will move to the Planning and Zoning Board for a zoning change, which is necessary because the current zoning does not allow for 25 stories.

All three of these projects — ArtsPark Village, Hollywood Circle, and the Great Southern tower — are brought to us by Attorney Alan Koslow who boasted, after the ceremony installing the new mayor and commissioners, that he could still count on a majority of the new commission to approve his projects.  Added together, developer incentives for the three Young Circle projects total more than $50 million — a huge drain on future tax revenue.

Describing the City Commission’s approval of the massive ArtsPark Village with its unprecedented large subsidy to the developer, Sun-Sentinel columnist Michael Mayo said in his April 3 blog:  “New Commission. Same Old Story.”  There was, however, one significant change that was obvious during the City Commission’s long meeting on the WSG development.  One of our newly elected officials had really done her homework on this complex project: Commissioner Heidi O’Sheehan.

Just two months after her election, she proved herself able to shine the light on the many contradictions and deficiencies inherent in the ArtsPark Village project and in the process she set a remarkable, new standard for due diligence by an elected Hollywood official.  In a civil manner, with a razor-sharp mind, she truly performed a public service instead of accepting staff and developer’s information as the final word which has long been the way Hollywood’s development projects have been approved.   Her role during the meeting, continually furthering the public interest, was outstanding and without recent (if ever) precedent in our city.

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