May 29, 2012, 11:32 AM
Filed under: Beach, CRA Districts

The Margaritaville project slated for Hollywood Beach is unable to start construction because the developer has not yet been able to raise enough money. The City has notified the developer that it’s in default.  The developer is seeking more money and city staff are reviewing the project’s numbers to determine what if anything can feasibly be done.

Every member of the public we’ve spoken with is flatly opposed to investing more public funds in this project.  It’s one thing to allow the developer more time to come up with the money it needs, if there is a reasonable prospect that additional time would produce results. But it’s quite another for the City or CRA to put public funds, again, in a development that can’t attract sufficient private investment.  We’ve seen that way too many times. No more, we all say.

If the developer can raise the needed money within the next six months to a year, and we can continue to use the garage and the public park meanwhile, then we say consider doing that.  If not, then it’s time to start over.

One of our readers, Craig McAdams, has a suggestion for the property that we print in full below.  As you can see, he is interested to hear what others think.

“I hope to see an Aquatic Fitness Center on the site currently planned for Margaritaville.  If the hotel and bars are not going to proceed, I want to propose something healthy and attractive for residents as well as visitors.

Several pools with water aerobics, learn to swim, competition and diving.  Surrounded by a health club and juice bars and a healthy alternative to the alcohol scene.  Most of the local hotels don’t have the space to provide a pool and this is why Joseph Young originally put a pool on this site. Yet it was demolished years ago.
 We need a place to swim when the ocean is contaminated and closed.  As well as when it’s too rough or sea lice and man o war.  A pool is the best facility the city could provide on the public land, not a hotel with restaurants and bars.

I would welcome your opinion as well as the opinion of others to see if my idea is popular among the residents and guests that read your blog.”

The Balance Sheet has long advocated for public use on this publicly owned beachfront property.  We’ve also recommended health and fitness uses along the broadwalk. We think Mr. McAdams is onto something.  What do you think?


Personally, I would like to see either a Whole Foods, Fresh Market, Trader Joe’s or better still getting back a Barnes & Noble (like the Borders that was at the Galleria). Ft. Lauderdale has a Whole Foods and a Fresh Market, both are on Federal Highway and within 3 miles of each other and its the same in Aventura. What about a Cheesecake Factory? No matter which one you walk into the places are always busy; can you imagine one facing the water? Just a couple thoughts.

Comment by Tanya Bouloy

I think the space being used as a public common space is a great idea. Why should the tax payers constantly give monies to developers who time and time again “underbid” the expense of a job. thats not “our” problem. If I ran my personal business the way the city runs our city business I WOULD BE OUT OF BUSINESS. Who in their right mind bids a job, gets bid, then comes back and tells owners they can no longer continue working on project because they ran out of money. WHO DOES THAT> Lets rally together, go to the city comm. meeting or better yet, get an appt. with Bober, and TELL him what we want. It seems to me, our city needs ANYONE level headed enough to think it through to Advise and Tell them what we as TAX PAYERS want. (and its not another dumpy resturant/hotel, we have enough of those) Pool GREAT IDEA

Comment by Melissa

Great disappointment this is unlikely to happen.. The vetting process should have removed applicants without secured funding. The time lost in working with this applicant cannot be recovered. We have an amazing beach but so few quality places to spend money. We had hoped a recognized name like Margaritaville would have raised the bar for other establishments.

Comment by Ed

We need a pool for the city residents…look at the Venetian Pool in Coral Gables for a model. It’s the city pool, there is an entry fee, handicapped access, and it is available to rent for private parties.

Comment by Leslie Gibbs

I think Craig’s idea is well intentioned but would be an incredible misuse and waste of the most valuable property in Hollywood. Whether money for this project is attainablein the short run is very short run thinking. The sight is capable of becoming a landmark with the right developer thinking who is thinking out of the box and the right developer also means one capable of financing without unreasonable help from the city. He does exist and the city getting ahead of itself will cause an irreparable misuse of such a treasured piece of property. I seriously question how the city has gone about attracting legitimate developers who don’t have their hand out and don’t need lobbyists to present their case. Attracting them is not rocket science and also is not costly. Why have we been fumbling the ball for such a long time?
Mr. Young under today’s circumstance would not choose to place another pool on this site. How noteworthy; a swimming pool and a gym on the most valuable property in Hollywood. I’m sure they will be the deciding elements when a potential vacationer is evaluating those factors leading to a decision on an exciting and fun filled vacation. We can swim in the pool two hundred feet from the ocean and then of all things, we can work out in the gym on the same site – gee whiz, how exciting considering the rarity of gyms.
The Margaritaville idea seems to be a good one capable of making the site a landmark destination. If it is not going to happen there are plenty of other very creative developers who, without the help of our infamous local lobbyists, can make this an exotic development that attracts vacationers who if impressed enough will not only return but tell all their friends about the exciting pool and gym, I mean the exotic structure and related activities that make a vacation spot very special and memorable. They will also patronize the businesses near the venue. This is an important point, ask our merchants, money that would never have been spent here by our locals, money that will be very welcome by our struggling businesses on the beach in addition to the tax revenue although mostly to the CRA which is another problem.
As an alternative to my above thoughts we might consider asking the Swimming Hall Of Fame to relocate to this site and build a pool. We might consider giving the developer a couple of acres of land north of the site to build condos for the needed development money. I offer this alternative prospect so you will recognize how original my thinking is relating to a pool on this site. Howard Sher

Comment by Howard Sher

The City has done everything it could do during the selection process. It truly is a good project for Johnson St. It is unfortunate that the financing was not secured with the E B Five Program. The developer will have to look into alternative financing or get a equity partner if he plans to move forward. I agree about the liability of bringing back a pool. We have a beautiful beach and Broadwalk. If this project does not succeed we will keep maintaining and improving what is already here. The garage and park have been enjoyed and utilized by everyone. Sometimes it is better to not build and enjoy what is already here. The developer will have every opportunity to find financing in the next 60 days. Oh yes, Our Beach is the best place for health and fitness.

Comment by Patty Asseff

I think we should wait for the next round of the electoral process before we allow ANYONE to make any decisions about the future of Hollywood.

Tony Saia

Comment by tony saia

Why did the City think that 250 foreign investors looking to get green cards would pony up a $500K investment for this? Same thing goes for the downtown projects…..a real long shot. Most people would be happy to see central Hollywood Beach stay a quaint, low scale village atmosphere. Too bad there are some “mistakes” from the past before we had good zoning in place. However, the City could fix up the useable garage, beef up the recreational area (or do the public pool ala the historic Casino property from the 20’s), highlight the SSL program, and concentrate on a family friendly environment.

Comment by Terry Cantrell

I would be very careful in putting in a swimming pool. The Ft. Lauderdale Swimming Hall of Fame which is exactly the type of pool mentioned above has never made any money, rather it has consistently lost money. Besides the liability problem, a pool is an attractive nuisance for children. If the city goes with this idea, it should do so cautiously.
Sue Gunzburger

Comment by Sue Gunzburger

In my travels I have visited Margueritavilles in Memphis, TN (this one is in an old restored building in downtown area and I could not find a seat at two o’clock in the afternoon). I also visited Panama City Beach and Pensacola Beach locations and they were pretty busy during my visits. Pensacola Beach has a beautiful hotel such as planned for Hollywood and it is very upscale. The pool concept on paper sounds great but one accident (and it will happen) and the city could face millions of dollars in a lawsuit. My thought would be to sell shares to local investors as well as foreign investors and proceed. Definitely not more money from the city though. This must be built from the private sector.

Comment by Jim Stoodley

I support the Pool idea, but for completely different reasons….

I am not sure this link will work through the blog but if you go to the City’s website and search the photo archives you can get an idea of what the site used to look like.

The site has some historical significance and it would be nice for the City to honor its past for a change instead of constantly turning the past under for the newest and shiniest whatever to come along.

Comment by Charles Kerr

It is the same old story put more public funds in an ill conceived project. Collect now on all owed the city-the clock the holocost fiasco and more!!

Comment by bill

Once more, Hollyweird did not do its due dilligence. Why do we consistently do the same thing over and over and expect different results. There is no money for this type of project. Just like the Great Southern fiasco, the Hollywood Bread Building, adn 1776 Polk Street Ids there anyone with a shred of fiduciary responsibility in all of Hollywood government or Commission? I think not. Oh, and did I tell you so, that the City should have thrown out all the City Manager candidates because the 6 finalists were neither qualified, nor suitable for Hollywood? Talk about deja vu, all over again. SAD!!!

Comment by Linda Wilson

When I first heard about the Margaritaville project, I thought it had some merit. Not long after the news broke, I became aware of the dismal state of Riverfront in Ft Lauderdale. Hollywood could benefit from an ‘anchor’ property… but then again the purpose of an anchor is to drag along the bottom and slow or stop movement. This project seems to be developing into the wrong type of anchor.
I am very interested in the idea presented by Craig. I like the thought of having a healthy location that encourages fitness and wellness. There are several community polls in Dade and Broward Counties that can be studied to see how to make them profitable. I believe it’s time to cut ties with the current project and at least entertain this proposal.

Comment by Brian Wilkie

I agree that this is public land and should be used to benefit the public directly. Before the City enters into another iffy deal with a commercial entity, I think the ideas above should be explored.

Dodie Weinstein

Comment by Dodie Weinstein

I wish I had experienced the beautiful pool that Joseph Young built . . . I think it’s a great idea to have another one! To raise some money, the city could have cabana memberships . . . and charge a fee to enter. Insurance and lack of tax revenue could be its downfall . . . don’t know how you get around all that. Other cities have managed to do so . . . But great ideas can find a way. Hasn’t generated any tax income for a while now . . . I love it belonging to the city, meaning to its people.

Comment by Tiffany Grantham

Health seems to be a big topic whether you’re talking insurance, smoking, drinking, etc. What an idea!! The city actually providing a great place for a “healthy” project where one could actually enjoy going to the beach and getting a great benefit from it as well. NIce going, Craig.

Comment by Shirley Stealey

The current bars and restaurants with 2 or 3 being the exception are awful.So we could use a good restaurant,but the aquatic center makes good use of the land as well.

Comment by RG

It looks to me as if the administration and the City Commission are not going to be successful getting any massive development on that site that can acquire the funding needed. I also doubt whether the site could ever bring the returns needed for investors to be confident, which is the obvious reason for the present situation.

This will probably be deja vu all over again. I don’t think it makes a difference which lobbyists plead their cases for which clients. They all seem to come in with great promises, but then come back for public money again and again.

It’s time to dust off the Urban Land Institute’s report done several years ago but ignored. It’s the best solution for the beach. Nothing glitzy, no high rises. That’s the group that said parking shouldn’t be metered in downtown, and the City ignored that too.

Comment by Charlotte Greenbarg

I think Craig’s proposal is a good one for all of us, locals and tourists alike. I visit New Orleans monthly on business and personally. The Margueritaville in the French Quarter is consistently empty of patrons unless there is a massive overflow such as a ball game in the super dome. M has the highest prices and the same generic food as any bad chain across this country. It is passe and outdated.

Comment by linda ball

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