BALANCE SHEET BLOG – HOLLYWOOD, FL


Beach Public Safety Complex: 2011
February 3, 2011, 6:22 PM
Filed under: Beach, CRA Districts

February 3, 2011

Note: See earlier article here.

What was once a voter-approved $2.2 million plan to renovate Hollywood’s A1A fire station (2200 N. Ocean Dr.) has become a costly $15.8 million land acquisition/new construction project further south on A1A that would replace the existing facility. How did this happen?

In short, the Beach CRA went rogue. Back in 2006, it bought 3 parcels on A1A (between Madison and Monroe) at a cost of $6.7 million. One of the sellers was the founder of Cops and Firefighters Business Network. He made $1,140,000 on this deal, an 84% gain on property he held not quite two years. The remaining sellers also made handsome profits as the CRA dished out top dollar for this project which was to include a brand new fire station that would also store beach safety vehicles.

Although both Miami Herald and Sun-Sentinel reported this morning that the City Commission OK’d $7.9 million to construct this new building, they failed to include the debt service over 15 years on funds the city must borrow to cover a portion of the construction budget. Nor did they mention the exorbitant $6.7 million the CRA spent to acquire the land. When those figures are added in, we see a $15.8 million fire palace.

Land Acquisition (3 separate parcels)

$ 6.7 million
Construction & Related Costs (including
debt service)
$ 9.1 million
Total Cost (excluding demolition costs)

$15.8 million

Bottom Line: Expenditure of $15.8 million for this project seems unreasonable if not unconscionable considering that the existing fire station could be renovated for much less. Only Mayor Bober and Commissioner Furr voted against the project yesterday, citing its excessive cost in light of the city’s over-stressed budget. We think their vote was responsible given that the commission will be considering not only cutting staff and services in the next budget year but also declaring a state of financial emergency in order to break union contracts.

When possible, the Balance Sheet tries to make helpful suggestions or offer alternative ideas to solve problems. In this case all we can do is ask the Commission to do a better job as stewards of the tax payers’ money.

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