West Hollywood Corridor Pilot
May 22, 2012, 5:42 PM
Filed under: Corridors, Neighborhoods

New Role for Civic Associations

The Johnson Street business corridor between 56th Avenue and 441 is about to meet the Hollywood Council of Civic Associations’ Neighborhood Pride team.  A resident-driven pilot project to help rejuvenate the corridor is in the works. If successful, this project can be replicated in other Hollywood neighborhoods.

Johnson Street Business Corridor

Decades of neglect have taken their toll on this three-block stretch that runs through the newly organized Hollywood Gardens residential neighborhood. Many useful services and stores populate the corridor. Some well-maintained properties are located here, such as Mimi’s, Gino’s, Hispanic Unity and a few others. But in general the corridor looks like a run-down hodgepodge of properties badly in need of refurbishment, with vehicles parked every-which-way.  Many vacancies exist that could provide space for companies forced to relocate as 441 is widened. But its current appearance may not provide much attraction for businesses moving from 441.

The Neighborhood Pride team is organizing community and city support, in the form of in-kind services, from local schools and community groups as well as city staff, to help the businesses improve the curb appeal of  their properties.  In addition, somewhat similar to Superior Small Lodgings on Hollywood Beach,  the group is creating a Neighborhood Pride Award to be conferred in 2013 on businesses that clean up and beautify their properties. The award will focus only on exterior appearance:  business facade, signage, cleanliness, landscaping.

Over the summer, residents from the Neighborhood Pride team will be walking door-to-door on the corridor to meet business owners and tenants, learn more about their particular needs, and seek ideas from them about corridor enhancements.

Representatives from the following civic associations are steering this pilot project: Highland Gardens Civic Association, Hollywood Gardens Neighborhood Association, Hollywood Hills Civic Association, Hollywood Lakes Civic Association, and Lawn Acres Civic Association. If you have ideas or would like to participate in this pilot project, contact the Neighborhood Pride team at the following address:

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?

Emergency Phones: 2008
August 21, 2008, 8:08 PM
Filed under: Corridors, Downtown

August 21, 2008

Hollywood’s Police Department is responding to crime with the installation of 30 emergency phones to be funded by CRA and Law Enforcement Forfeiture Funds. The first 10 phones are to be installed downtown, followed by 20 more along the US 1 corridor, between Sheridan Street and Pembroke Road. Later, the Police Department plans to place them also on the beach and in other city neighborhoods.

The new phones are described as follows by the Police Department:

“The Emergency phone will be used if you are in fear, need immediate assistance or if you witness an in-progress incident. The phone will not be used to receive information or to call a cab. Simply press the call button and you will talk directly to our Communications Center. The Emergency phone will also be equipped with a Pan-Tilt-Zoom (PTZ Camera) so Police personnel can identify a suspect or suspects and provide valuable information to responding units. An additional camera will identify those who vandalize the equipment or make crank calls to the Police Department.”

“The phones will be on a free standing pedestal (approximately 8’3″) and will be easily identifiable with reflective paint in the Police Department’s black and white color scheme. A blue light will be affixed on top of the phone, making it clearly identifiable as a Police Department device at night.”

“The Emergency phone can also be used as a Public Address system for distances from 500-1000 feet. This application will be useful on the beach to notify persons of a missing child (Amber Alert) or an evacuation.”

Hollywood Police Chief Chad Wagner presented the new emergency phone plan at a meeting of the Royal Poinciana and Parkside Task Force on August 20. While there was some concern about vandalism, whether the phones would simply displace crime to other neighborhoods, whether their presence would stigmatize the neighborhood, etc., the Police Chief indicated that if we don’t try, we will never know. He said the phones have been successful on college campuses for many years, but if they do not perform as expected in Hollywood neighborhoods, then we’ll try something else. He is hopeful, however, that the phones will be a significant new tool for Hollywood law enforcement.

The Police Chief made clear that the cost of the phones will not burden the already over-strained Hollywood budget because all funding is to come from either the CRA or forfeiture funds that cannot be spent on operating costs. He also indicated that Hollywood is one of the first cities in the region to use emergency phones.

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Young Circle Block 55: 2008
April 5, 2008, 8:16 PM
Filed under: Corridors, CRA Districts, Development, Downtown, Young Circle

April 5, 2008

Right on the heels of the 25-story ArtsPark Village deal — that was initially approved this week in a 4-3 vote by Commissioners Asseff, Furr, Blattner, and Sherwood — comes ANOTHER proposed Young Circle tower, this one on the northeast side.  This latest mixed-use 25-story massive structure calls itself Hollywood Circle.  It is pictured below in a rendering supplied by the developer, Chip Abele.  On the left is the existing Radius condo building.

Proposed Hollywood Circle Development

This ponderous tower is to include a new Publix Supermarket which would be a welcome service in the neighborhood.  However, the traffic impacts of such a massive structure, with its hundreds of new residents and shoppers, seem daunting at best.  Access to the Publix loading docks will be from the narrow, residential Polk Street, and trucks leaving the docks will have to navigate turns onto 17th Avenue, Tyler Street and around Young Circle.  Current residents driving around the circle already experience gridlock backed up several blocks at certain times of the day.

Several years ago, with no due diligence check, the old City Commission/CRA promised this site to Chip Abele, the developer who also has a city contract to build on the west side of the circle.  There he plans to put a 19-story tower where the historic Great Southern Hotel stands.  The Great Southern project has been tied up in court since the city attempted to seize the Harrison Street Mach building by eminent domain to enlarge Mr. Abele’s site. For these two towers, the city promised Mr. Abele approximately $25 million of future tax revenue.

The developer will present Hollywood Circle to city staff’s Technical Advisory Committee on April 7 at 1:30 PM in City Hall, Room 215.  If staff sign off on the details now provided, the project will move to the Planning and Zoning Board for a zoning change, which is necessary because the current zoning does not allow for 25 stories.

All three of these projects — ArtsPark Village, Hollywood Circle, and the Great Southern tower — are brought to us by Attorney Alan Koslow who boasted, after the ceremony installing the new mayor and commissioners, that he could still count on a majority of the new commission to approve his projects.  Added together, developer incentives for the three Young Circle projects total more than $50 million — a huge drain on future tax revenue.

Describing the City Commission’s approval of the massive ArtsPark Village with its unprecedented large subsidy to the developer, Sun-Sentinel columnist Michael Mayo said in his April 3 blog:  “New Commission. Same Old Story.”  There was, however, one significant change that was obvious during the City Commission’s long meeting on the WSG development.  One of our newly elected officials had really done her homework on this complex project: Commissioner Heidi O’Sheehan.

Just two months after her election, she proved herself able to shine the light on the many contradictions and deficiencies inherent in the ArtsPark Village project and in the process she set a remarkable, new standard for due diligence by an elected Hollywood official.  In a civil manner, with a razor-sharp mind, she truly performed a public service instead of accepting staff and developer’s information as the final word which has long been the way Hollywood’s development projects have been approved.   Her role during the meeting, continually furthering the public interest, was outstanding and without recent (if ever) precedent in our city.

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Federal Highway Plans: 2006
August 18, 2006, 12:37 PM
Filed under: Corridors, Development

Plans for Federal Highway Corridor

August 18, 2006

City staff have been planning for some time to do what they can to change the face of Hollywood’s Federal Highway corridor between Pembroke Road and Sheridan Street. Plans for this purpose (in the form of a zoning overlay district) are expected to be before the City Commission for approval this fall. Developers have been buying up parcels in anticipation, though now with escalating construction costs, it is not clear whether grand plans will be stalled.

The idea is to provide lots of new housing in the form of “mixed use development” along the corridor (for example, retail on the ground floor, office on the next two floors, and housing on upper floors) The most intense projects, to include public plazas along with all the mixed uses, are designated for U.S. 1 at Pembroke Road (approximately 2 acres on the northwest corner) and Sheridan Street. These two intersections the plan calls “Major Nodes.” Allowable height at these “nodes” would be 14 stories (140 feet).

So-called “Minor Nodes” with height at ten stories (105 feet) are planned for the intersections at Washington, Van Buren, Polk, Johnson, and Taft Streets. The buildings between the major and minor “node” intersections, would be limited to approximately eight stories (85 feet), except between Monroe and Fillmore Streets, where the allowable height would be approximately ten stories (105 feet). Already we hear that developers in the wings are working to get preliminary approval for more height along the corridor.

The renderings below provide a glimpse into Hollywood’s future as reflected in zoning approved by the city’s Planning and Zoning Board and soon to be considered by the City Commission.

Proposed Development at Pembroke Road and Federal Highway

Proposed Development at Harding Street-Federal Highway Intersection

Proposed Development at Taft Street-Federal Highway Intersection

How Hollywood’s infrastructure can support the extensive development envisioned here is not mentioned in the city’s Powerpoint presentation about the plan. The full plan (134 pages) is titled HOLLYWOOD CORRIDORS: ZONING AND LAND USE RECOMMENDATIONS JANUARY 2006.

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