BALANCE SHEET BLOG – HOLLYWOOD, FL


Governing by Waiver
April 29, 2013, 1:09 PM
Filed under: Development

Up until the recession in 2008 Hollywood was widely known as the city that “governed by variance.”  Whatever a developer wanted, the developer got, mostly because Hollywood’s leaders seemed to feel that our city was somehow substandard and no developer would want to build here unless the City Commission “gave away the store.” Huge tax incentives were promised, minimum lot sizes and setbacks reduced, and other variances granted to the point where lavish developer handouts came to be expected by developers and protesting residents alike. Most of these giveaways came to a halt at least temporarily with the economic downturn, with the notable exception of the large Margaritaville incentives.

But now, development in Hollywood is picking up again.  The question this week is whether the City Commission will grant Stiles Corporation,  a large “invest-build-manage” company, the waiver it seeks from Hollywood’s Green Building Ordinance. This ordinance requires compliance with minimal environmental standards: only the most basic LEED or other recognized environmental certification programs.

Stiles is building West Lake Commons, a shopping center to be located on Sheridan Street just east of Federal Highway.  The anchor tenant will be Publix.  We’ve been told other tenants will include Pollo Tropical and Starbucks along with as many as 13 additional stores. In the site rendering below, Federal highway runs along the right side, with Sheridan Street perpendicular to it  at the bottom.

Will West Lake Commons be just another strip mall behind a sea of cars?  Or will it be an environmentally certified shopping destination that brings a measure of forward thinking and quality to our city?

West Lake Commons

Stiles Corporation is the first developer to seek a waiver under Hollywood’s 2011 ordinance (but we’re told Walmart at State Road 7  is next in line and what we say here applies equally to Walmart).  Stiles claims compliance with Hollywood’s green building requirements would be (1) cost prohibitive and (2) unmanageable because the project has multiple tenants.   We can’t see how the first of these justifications can’t be taken seriously. Lest anyone think Stiles a small mom-and-pop developer barely making ends meet, the logos of some Stiles clients proudly displayed on its website make clear that Stiles is comfortably positioned in the heavy-weight category.

Stiles Clients

The question of complications caused by multiple tenants has validity but should not be cause for an unconditional waiver.  Stiles’s concern seems to be that build-out of the out-parcel stores may not be under its control and could delay certification for months after the anchor store opens its doors. We don’t see a problem with certification delayed until the entire project is complete.  Stiles is delivering “vanilla box” and “raw shell” spaces in which the different tenants will build out their stores. Stiles can build these bare-bones structures to LEED specifications.  And by lease (or sales contract if applicable), Stiles can require green building standards of all the smaller stores.  Stiles also expresses concern that the ordinance will complicate its negotiations with potential tenants.  This is a poor excuse to trot out in the second decade of the 21st century.

Shopping center development with multiple tenants has achieved LEED certification in many other jurisdictions for many years.  From Savannah’s Abercorn Common which was the first LEED certified shopping center in the U.S. back in 2006 to the current Brooklyn Navy Yard‘s 74,000 square foot supermarket complex in the six-acre Admiral’s Row site, developers all over the country have managed to achieve Silver and even Platinum LEED certification for multi-tenanted shopping centers. Hollywood should follow the lead of these other cities and so should Stiles.

So long as City officials fail to hold development to high standards, mediocrity will continue to be Hollywood’s legacy.  It is very important that the City Commission uphold the City’s Green Building Ordinance. At its meeting last week, Hollywood’s Green Team unanimously adopted a motion opposing the granting of this waiver but the final decision will be made by the City Commission at its meeting on Wednesday, May 1.

The Green Team’s statement, after hearing Stiles make its case at a meeting last week, is clear: “The Green Team Advisory Committee vehemently opposes the waiver to circumvent the LEED certification for the West Lake Commons project. LEED certification will ensure a better, more environmentally friendly outcome that will be better for the city and its residents. The Green Team worked very hard to ensure that the green building ordinance would be mandatory and any variance would establish an unfortunate and dangerous precedent.”

If you agree with the Green Team, as we do, ask the City Commission to uphold Hollywood’s Green Building Ordinance by not granting a waiver for West Lake Commons. In addition, try to attend the City Commission meeting on May Day and speak your environmental concerns directly to the Commission.


16 Comments

Reading your Balance Sheet is very disappointing to me that you keep bringing up the past with not acknowledging that this City needs to move forward with economic development. There are no incentives being given to this project and it is being built by a developer who has a great track record. Sustainability is one of the guiding principles of Stiles Corporation. Publix has been ranked number one in the 2011 Corporate Social Responsibility Index developed by the Boston College Center for Corporate Citizenship and the Reputation Institute recognized as a Green Grocer;s Hall of Fame in 2010. Lastly Stiles Corp is not only a building developer and contractor, but also a long time property owner and manager as a leader in sustainable practices and will continue throughout the operational life of the property.
This Waiver will save additional costs that will be put on the Landlord and would put them in a position to charge higher than usual rents. We need occupants to make this a successful project. The applicant has indicated their commitment to meeting the basic intent and purpose of the code by providing by numerous green and sustainable practices, such as parking transportation and storm water. Beautifying the entrance to this City will totally be a catalyst to start redevelopment on the North Federal Highway Corridor and encourage others to make an investment in this City. We should welcome this quality developer to help us get rid of slum and blight and become safe and clean. The ta base for the City will increase and we will be able to give quality services to our residents, be able to pay our police, fire and City workers. We need the jobs to help produce an income for the overwhelming percentage of poverty level in our City.

Comment by Patty Asseff

Commissioner,

With all due respect, I have to say something about your position on this issue. if ordinary strip malls created the type of economic development Hollywood needs, Hollywood would be in much better shape than it is. We have a lot of them.

Hollywood has a chance here, with a quality developer, to do something a little more forward thinking, a little more quality-driven. To sweep away what few “higher standards” we have is just to perpetuate Hollywood as a strip-mall haven, nothing distinctive, nothing that can’t be found in any other mediocre city. We have to hold our developers to higher standards if we are to change Hollywood for the better. Publix has LEED certified stores in other cities. Why not in Hollywood? Stiles has built LEED certified buildings in other cities. Why not in Hollywood? Are we so desperate and so inferior? If you and our other City Officials believe and act this way, then sadly the answer is yes.
Sara

Comment by Balance Sheet Blog

What this city needs are commissioners that lead by example..
don’t send the message “its business as usual in Hollywood” .

go back to the table and make this an example of what Hollywood “could be” !

our future generations are your dependining on you!

Comment by lee

With all due respect, this type of response is exactly WHY the city is in the shape its in. Dont uphold your own rules, dont require developers to do what needs to be done, just allow them to do anything that makes it easier on them and more difficult to the city and its residents. I am sooooo tired of hearing about how we need to bend over backwards for developers. Go search the Stiles website for LEED , and read their own press releases. THEN go tell me about the ” basic intent” they plan on meeting. Seems to me they have figured out that Hollywood is a place where developers dont have to do what is required, just ask the commission for a waiver. And with regards to jobs to reduce poverty, tell me again how high the wages are in the various fast food joints that are going in there ?

The City of Hollywood has been ” move(ing) forward with economic development” in the Downtown area for what, 30 years ? Done a great job attracting anchor tenants , with places that residents and tourists come downtown to shop in ! Oh wait, thats right, we’ve given away so much that the Downtown CRA is broke . And you wonder WHY the past is brought up ? Its because it is always forgotten when the next great developer who is going to “help us get rid of slum and blight ” shows up. Stiles touts its LEED projects at every turn , and in most every other location, it complies . Why is Hollywood different / Why does only Hollywood seem to be the place that regulations made to improve OUR quality of life are disregarded ?

Nice piece of fluff here, and seemingly business as usual.

Comment by Jeff Brodeur

Hi Patty, I’m surprised that you have taken the economic position, since it is your district that is most threatened by climate instability. You know the problems that the Lakes and the Beach has with flooding, sea water rising and salt water intrusion, not to mention loss of tree canopy, and habitat. With the resume that you presented for Publix, I’m not surprised they are not INSISTING that the project be built to LEED Certification, after all statistics indicate that LEED buildings have 13% lower maintenance costs, 26% less energy use, 27% higher levels of occupant satisfaction and 33% less carbon dioxide emissions, not to mention lower insurance rates and greater employee retention. Without formal certification there is no accountability that these results will be achieved.

Comment by Paul Farren

Well written article Sara. Guess we’ll find out if anything has changed on Wedneday, or is it simply more of the same in Hollywood. I also encourgae readers of this blog to make your comments in email to the comission AND to the city manager BEFORE the meeting takes place.

Comment by jeff brodeur

Commissioner Blattner commented on this issue in an email to several people and has authorized us to post it here. What follows is from Commissioner Blattner:

It is interesting to open emails, not knowing what to expect. Thank you for your thoughts. Here are mine.

First, I believe this item will be pulled in order to allow the parties to figure out how to make this work. “Work” should mean a project that is upscale versus one that we have to accept because the developer says so. That happened so many times in the past just because we seemed so desperate to accept anything that came along. My look forward is to require more than bare minimums, projects that just meet the standards but don’t exceed them. No more dumbing down. Some of you oppose the Balance Sheet article because you think we need project like this…and I agree. But, let’s do whatever it takes to make it better.

As for this particular project, which is important and sets the pace, I think the main building, to be occupied by Publix , will qualify for a LEED certification at some level. If item 29 was coming up tomorrow, I would have recommended passing this phase, but delaying the others. The remaining buildings, which will be rented to unknown tenants, needs to be built to the highest standards consistent with the ability to achieve a LEED certification, or its equivalent. I believe that is what staff and Stiles will be working out. I don’t get the impression that Stiles is trying to build this phase at a lower standard than what they, and Publix, will have.

Looking ahead to Super Walmart, there is no question that they will be LEED certified. However, the same may not be said about their outparcels. Walmart does not own the property; they are tenants. The developer controls the outparcels, and I don’t know how Taco Bell, for example, feels about LEED. We need to express our concerns and standards about that.

Comment by Commissioner Blattner posted by Balance Sheet Blog

Comment by Balance Sheet Blog

I enjoy reading your posts.
They are always well thought out and by including the backup material you let the facts speak for themselves.
Thank you for all the time and effort you put into the Balance Sheet
Keith S. London
613 Oleander Drive
Hallandale Beach, FL
33009

Comment by Keith London

When Stiles requested this waiver, did they present any statistics or data to support their position on the prohibitive costs? Our family has commercial property, and the tenants/businesses were hit hard by the economic slowdown, too. We lost tenants because our rents were too high. But, we couldn’t lower our rents and still cover the costs of maintaining our buildings. I’m not siding with Stiles, but I do recommend that the Green people do a little research and try to see this issue from the side of the businesses. There may have to be some compromises from both sides.
What I’m confused about is the location of this Publix. There’s already a Publix on Sheridan and 14th. Why the redundancy? Or, does this mean the older Publix will be closed? In that case, what does the City gain by having an anchor move from one shopping center to a new one down the street?

Comment by Brian Wilkie

It is our understanding that the new Publix will be much larger and will re locate from Dania Beach, where it is currently, to Hollywood.
One of the big advantages of green building is the future savings that the tenants and owners receive because of the better practices put into place up front.

Comment by Balance Sheet blog

Understood. Thanks for clearing that up.

Comment by Brian Wilkie

Agree with Mel; that the project at this point is looking for this change is another example how developers look to take advantage of our city, Stiles has very deep pockets and this center needs to be “green” in may ways especially as it will be a gateway to the beaches and can aide in the clean-up of federal highway.

Comment by the gourmet realtor

although building to the Green standard incurrs some higher costs,they are not prohibitive. Building to these standards enhances the resale and rental vlues of the property. In the long run, it is a win-win situatiuon.

Mel Pollak

Comment by Mel Pollak

FYI the Hollywood’s Green Building Ordinance DOES NOT require LEED certification

§ 151.158 LARGE DEVELOPMENTS.
(A) New construction of, and a major renovation to, a stand-alone building (other than a single-family detached dwelling or duplex) with more than 20,000 square feet of total floor area or one or more buildings within a development containing a total floor area (including all buildings within the development) in excess of 20,000 square feet shall be certified under the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Green Building Rating System of the USGBC, certified by the FGBC as a Florida Green High Rise Residential Building or a Florida Green Commercial Building, or certified by another recognized certification program approved by the city(EMPHASES ADDED)

Comment by concerned citizen

Yes, you’re right and we didn’t say it did require LEED. What we say in the post is as follows: “This ordinance requires compliance with minimal environmental standards: only the most basic LEED or other recognized environmental certification programs.” No matter how weak the ordinance, this builder is requesting a waiver.

Comment by Balance Sheet Blog

So will our commissioners vote to continue the legacy of Hollywood being widely known as the city that “governed by variance.”? or will they stand their ground and set a new precedent ??????

Comment by concerned citizen




Comments are closed.