BALANCE SHEET BLOG – HOLLYWOOD, FL


Corridor Development
September 18, 2011, 10:07 PM
Filed under: City Commission, Corridors, Development

No one knows more than our Commissioners how desperately Hollywood needs to stabilize and improve its neighborhoods and its corridors. Yet when our elected officials had an opportunity earlier this month to reduce the number of pawn shops on 441, they let us down.

The City Commission, in a 6-1 vote, approved a pawn shop’s request to build a new building on 441 at Duval Street now that the shop’s current location a little further south is being taken by eminent domain for 441 widening.  City staff recommended against approval as did the Planning and Zoning Board.  Both informed the Commission that there are already 12 pawn shops on a six-block stretch of 441 and here was a chance to eliminate one. Approving this pawn shop was the Commission’s first development decision for the “new” 441 corridor.

What was striking about the pawn shop proposal was its full court press led by Hollywood lobbyist Alan Koslow and the champion Broward County lobbyist George Platt.  In  hasty nonspecific disclosures before the public hearing began, every commissioner announced a prior meeting behind closed doors with “the applicant,” but none disclosed whether it was with lobbyist, pawn shop owner, or operator.  Not one member of the public spoke in support of the pawn shop and several spoke against it.

Only Commissioner O’Sheehan took the obvious principled position against the proposal. Commissioner Blattner approved it, seeming to be angling for improvements to a pawn shop on Stirling Road owned by the same company.  Commissioner Russo said the new 441 pawn shop would be a “beautiful building.”  We are quite certain that Commissioner Asseff would never have approved a pawn shop in her district.  Nor is it likely Commissioner Furr would approve one in his district. Both of them have been fighting blight.  But they were willing to put it on 441, as were Commissioner Sherwood and the mayor.

We are left with these questions:

1.  Why do Hollywood’s elected officials think so poorly of our City that a new pawn shop becomes a desired development?

2. What can we do as a City to raise our sights and recognize once and for all that we deserve better and can actually achieve it?


16 Comments

In response to the question posed by Obalesque……Yes, They are a negative presence in the neighborhood. I’ve asked a number of people, ” what is the first thing that comes to mind when you say pawn shop?” It has always been a negative response. They are connected with stolen goods, like it or not. I’m not saying they don’t serve a purpose. But, if you have a string of pawn shops in a location, then that might indicate a strong crime presence also. One shop should be sufficient for those who really need it. To make my point, you mentioned the one downtown. It’s successful and serves the needs of those who use it. Why would you need more? If downtown had a string of pawn shops, it would take on a totally different feel. I don’t believe there is any comparison to the other businesses you mentioned.

Comment by Shirley Stealey

1. Insofar as the owner’s business was lost to eminent domain, it seems the city has a fiduciary (if not ethical) obligation to fulfill.

2. Your bias against pawn shops is startling. Are they really as negative a presence in a neighborhood as a bus station, check-cashing service, laundry, or other business that serves the needs of mostly low and moderate income residents? The solution to the problem here isn’t reducing the number of these businesses, but ensuring that they are regulated properly, operating lawfully, and kept up to code. Besides, a thriving business beats a vacant store on every level of the argument.

3. Exhibit A: Morningstar’s in downtown Hollywood. A solid neighborhood presence and successful business for decades., despite its “sinister mission.” As an east-side resident, I don’t mind seeing operations like this one down town. I’d like to see more.

Comment by Obalesque

OK. Fair enough.I’m away for the summer. When I get back to Hollywood I will try to see every commissioner and report back to you.

Comment by Paul Klein

In response to Paul Klein again, making an appointment to visit with each commissioner is one of the things an individual voter can do. Whether you can convince them all to vote a certain way is another matter, but access is generally not a problem.

Comment by Balance Sheet Blog

I would liked to have the opportunity to go to each commissioner’s office and make a case for a desired vote outcome. Of course, I’m just a simple, ordinary citizen and who am I to desire to have the ability to meet privately with my elected officials (Who are supposed to work for people like me)? But of course, that would never happen. What we need in Hollywood is a rebirth of Democracy. I look forward to the next election day and the chance to unemploy our commissioners.

Comment by Paul Klein

We had a mall on 441. It was the Fashion Center. We also had the Sears Mall down closer to I95 years ago. I personally prefer indoor malls, rather than these strip malls like Oakwood. As far as I can tell, the only thing that matters to some people is the downtown area and beach. It’s like the rest of Hollywood doesn’t exist.

Comment by Shirley Stealey

A glaring and overlooked issue here is the Commission’s disregard for not only their Planning Staff recommendation but also their volunteer Planning and Zoning Board made of up Hollywood residents of various disciplines. This happens frequently, especially when high powered, highly paid lobbyists like Platt and Koslow are enlisted to arm twist the Commission into approval. As a member of a City Board, I can attest to the utter disappointment I feel when one of our Board’s decisions comes before the Commission and we are overruled.

This must be some big time, highly profitable business for the applicant to hire Platt and Koslow…….

Terry Cantrell

Comment by Terry Cantrell

This seems to continue a trend which favors the east side of town and neglects the west. Between Stirling and Pembroke, on Federal or Dixie, there is a total of one pawn shop ( the only pawn shop that I know of down town recently closed). Would the commissioners support this initiative if the owner wanted to open the business in either CRA district? Doubtful.

I’m not sure why this commission wants to include pawn shops in the facelift for the corridor. It seems as if there are better alternatives which should be considered. Pembroke Pines recently added The Shops at Pembroke Gardens. Miami has made a focused and effective effort to improve a blighted area commonly referred to as ‘Little Haiti’ near the high school I attended on NE 2nd ave and 49th street. The 441 corridor has similar qualities to these areas: 1) Access to major highways; 2) strip malls with stores that attract less-affluent shoppers; 3) an appearance which doesn’t improve the areas aesthetics or property values.
Why wouldn’t the city follow the models of the two examples I presented? Or, drive through either Davie or Plantation on University drive or Pine Island road. The atmosphere is bright and vibrant. I get a completely opposite sense when I drive through Hollywood on 441. If the city wants to improve an area, it needs to shut down the beach CRA and establish one in the west side of town. There is potential in this area. Why doesn’t the commission recognize this? You have to ask yourself why the commission prioritizes the beach area but neglects the 441 corridor. We also have to ask why Davie is able to attract a new Best Buy store to their shopping center, but Hollywood can’t bring something like that to the mall area on 441 and the BLVD. How many pawn shops operate on university drive or Pine Island rd? Maybe that has something to do with Best Buy choosing Davie? HHGREGG just opened a store in Pines. Was Hollywood even in competition as a possible location? The standards and expectations need to be raised for the type of business that is allowed to populate the corridor. In some people’s view, pawn shops may not be bad. However, in the eyes of a successful, stable corporation looking to open a new store, a location with an abundance of pawn shops may not be very appealing. If the city wants to change its image, it needs to set higher standards. The city’s chief source of revenue is commerce derived from tourism I believe. The port and airport are only a short drive from Hollywood, with direct and convenient access provided by 595, the turnpike and of course 441. The Hard Rock tapped into these veins,why can’t the rest of the corridor? How many visitors from foreign countries flock to the Sawgrass Mall area to shop? That mall is MILES away! Why not investigate the feasibility of constructing something like that here?

Comment by Brian Wilkie

West Hollywood, once again our Commissioners fail us and allow this to happen. It could be worse, someone might want to put in another used car lot.

West Hollywood Resident

Comment by revjim17

Unfortunately, this is a zero-sum-game in a depressed and stagnant economy. Each time we try to improve one corridor or CRA, we steal businesses and tenants from another. We simply do not have the volume of “preferred” business activities to support the long stretches we’d like to improve. We may not want pawnshops, but they serve an important function, especially at a time when metals prices are likely to continue at all-time highs. The real issue is which areas the City Commissioners want to improve most, and at what expense to the rest of the city.

Comment by James Bullock

Actually, there is nothing inherently bad with a pawn shop.
Just as in any business there are good honest owners and those that take extreme advantage of their customers.
The greater logic is their be a regulated pawn shop district which would bring in greater competition between pawnshops
and better pricing for buying and pawning consumers.
Also, a “district” would make it much easier for law enforcement
to do their thing when checking for stolen items or even having a presence in the area to dissuade the more criminal elements.

Comment by Steven Shagoury, Hollywood resident

In response to Paul Klein’s comment, we didn’t mean to imply that the commissioners met together in a secret meeting with pawn shop representatives. That would be illegal and they did NOT do that. The usual way is for an applicant to go around to each commissioner’s office separately to make the case for the desired vote.

Comment by Balance Sheet Blog

Pawn shops in general have more than a bad reputation for dealing in stolen goods and indicate many times a distressed economic area . The overall image is not very favorable and does nothing to improve the image of the COH in that area.

Comment by wksutton

Pawn shops are neither bad nor wrong. However, in large numbers they indicate that something’s wrong in the area they do business. What do large numers of pawn shops indicate? They prove a neighborhood to be in decline; in large numbers they indicate an area to be in serious decline. What we need in Hollywood is industry that brings value and good paying jobs to an area. This is further proof that our commission needs to be replaced with people who have greater vision.

I wonder what went on behind that closed door meeting. Were minutes kept, or was this a secret meeting?

Comment by Paul Klein

Probably because those kinds of shops have been known to take in stolen property, although I think steps have been or are being taken to protect victims of theft.

Comment by Shirley Stealey

Forgive my ignorance but why are pawn shops bad?

What is so wrong about Pawn Shops that they have to be regulated in such a way that very few other business are?

Comment by A Hollywood Resident




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