BALANCE SHEET BLOG – HOLLYWOOD, FL


Central Beach Development: 2009
May 26, 2009, 9:38 PM
Filed under: Beach, City Staff, CRA Districts, Development

May 26, 2009

An exciting new opportunity has opened up for Hollywood Beach now that the proposed Marriott Ocean Village resort has tanked. Having recently hired a new Assistant City Manager with complex development experience, Hollywood is suddenly in a good position to re-evaluate development options for this publicly owned beach front land.

Cathy Swanson-Rivenbark
Assistant City Manager

Hollywood’s new Assistant City Manager is Cathy Swanson-Rivenbark who comes to us from Coral Gables where she served as Development Director. At a May 20 workshop on the Johnson Street property, she advised the city commission to proceed in two stages in order to get the most creative proposals from the most qualified developers. Having tried and failed three times to get a up-market hotel resort built on the property, the city is ripe for a major reassessment and Ms. Swanson-Rivenbark seems up to the task of guiding us through it successfully.

The Balance Sheet editors believe strongly that this land should be preserved as public space, city-owned and city-controlled. Uses of the property should be a combination of public and private.

Three times in recent history, the city has pursued a private resort-hotel on this property without success. It is time for something new and different for this precious public land. Privately controlled development has the overriding goal of maximizing profits for the developer. By maintaining control, the city can make its own needs and concerns the primary goal.

Clearly the city welcomes the property taxes a private development would generate, but tax income from this single property will not maximize its value. If the development remains under public control, the city can integrate what is built here with the existing small businesses along the broadwalk, with the explicit aim of creating synergy and higher property values throughout central beach.  In this way, the property can reach its true potential as an income producer for the city while preserving the public space Joseph Young envisioned for this site back in the 1920s.

The city commission will seek ideas and developers for the property in two stages. The first will consist of public outreach to Hollywood residents. Simultaneously, city staff will be preparing a notice that will be circulated widely to those interested in developing the site. This notice will ask for a brief submittal that will include a sketch of the proposed development along with the developer’s qualifications and experience. The idea here is to get a wide range of ideas for the site, along with evidence of ability to successfully complete whatever project a developer submits. Ms. Swanson-Rivenbark stressed the importance of developer qualifications. “Hollywood doesn’t want people learning on the job,” she said, emphasizing the importance of prior experience in whatever type of project a developer may propose.

The second phase will come after city staff and elected officials narrow down proposals received from the first phase. A few will be selected to provide much more detailed information about their project. And then, the city commission will make the final choice.

Since public outreach comes during the first phase NOW IS THE TIME for all of us to be thinking about what we’d like to see built at Johnson Street on the beach. What do you think? .

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