By William Hladky, BrowardBulldog.org
Conceptual drawing for Walmart Marketplace at Sunrise Boulevard and Andrews Avenue
Wal-Mart wants to build its first store in Fort Lauderdale – a Neighborhood Market on a seven-acre site on the southwest corner of Andrews Avenue and Sunrise Boulevard.
If built, it will be the first Walmart store in east central Broward County and the county’s third Neighborhood Market.
Walmart Neighborhood Markets primarily are grocery stores, smaller than the typical Walmart store or Walmart Supercenter.
The project has drawn early support from the leaders of nearby civic associations. Mayor Jack Seiler told BrowardBulldog.org the development would be a benefit to the adjacent Progresso Village neighborhood.
“The area is in need of an economic boost,” the mayor said.
Developer Frank Gatlin, CEO of Gatlin Development Company, and attorney Nectaria Chakas have met twice since January with the Progresso Village Civic Association, the neighborhood to the south and west of the mostly vacant development site, to discuss planning for the proposed 40,000-square foot store.
According to a map provided to the civic association, the development site would run from Sunrise Boulevard south to Northwest Ninth Street and Andrews Avenue west to Northwest Second Avenue. Several parcels on the site’s southwest corner are not included in the development plans.
In addition to the Walmart Neighborhood Market store, Gatlin’s plans include three additional freestanding buildings, ranging in size from 4,000 to 8,500 square feet. Chakas said in an interview on Friday that those buildings would be rented or sold to other retailers.
Chakas described the development as “a typical shopping center.”
Property records show that a limited liability company called Project Andrews owns most of the development site, 28 of the approximately 35 lots. State corporate records identity the managing member of Project Andrews as John K. Baldwin, of Saipan, in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands.
Attorney Chakas, who represents Gatlin but not Walmart, said Walmart has yet to give Gatlin the go-ahead to proceed with the project. No property has been purchased, she said, adding that she did not know when the project would proceed. “We haven’t submitted anything (officially) to the city yet,” she said.
In June, 2012, Frank Gatlin signed a letter of intent to purchase Project Andrews 4.73 acres for $5 million. A January 13, 2013, project status report shows that Project Andrews’ land purchase cost rose to $5.5 million. Project Andrews was paid $50,000 last August as a deposit, with additional earnest money deposits scheduled.
The status report also shows that between $10,000 and $50,000 deposit money has been paid to five other property owners for their lots. Depending on the lot, the closing dates range from next June until January 2014.
In interviews, members with the Progresso Village Civic Association and of the South Middle River Association praised the project as a way to help to improve the economically depressed area.
Progresso Village vice president J.J. Hankerson, whose neighborhood is to the south and west of the site, called it “a plus for the community.” South Middle River president Sal Gatanio called the development a “win-win” for Walmart and his neighborhood.
“There are not many other stores (in the area),” Gatanio said. “There’s no place for people to go food shopping…If it happens it will be a great thing.”
Gatanio said the location for the planned development has long been “horrendous” and “nothing but a problem.” He added, however, that he was speaking only for himself because his association, which is north of Sunrise Boulevard, has yet to take an official position.
Progresso Village president Bradley Cohen supports the project.
Fort Lauderdale Mayor Jack Seiler
Cohen said that during his association’s first meeting with developer Gatlin in January, several members expressed concerns about aspects of the development, including traffic patterns, parking and landscaping. He said their concerns were satisfactorily addressed during the association’s second meeting with Gatlin in February.
Mayor Seiler, who said he was first approached by developers last year, told BrowardBulldog.org that neighbors have also expressed concerns about proper lighting and security cameras.
Gatlin has told the Progresso Village Association that he wants to get the project moving “as soon as possible,” according to Hankerson. Gatlin was out of town last week and could not be reached for comment
Wal-Mart’s website says Neighborhood Markets have about 95 employees and are approximately one-quarter the size of a Supercenter. In addition to groceries, they have a pharmacy and sell other kinds of merchandise.
Through the end of January, Wal-Mart counted 4,625 stores in the U.S., including 267 Neighborhood Markets.
Last year, Wal-Mart purchased a 13-acre lot located on the southeast corner of Oakland Park Boulevard and Northeast Sixth Avenue in Oakland Park. The site is currently a K-Mart.
Last June, the Sun Sentinel reported that K-Mart’s lease does not expire for several years. Gatanio said he’s heard that when it does the K-Mart would be replaced by a Walmart Supercenter.
By William Gjebre, BrowardBulldog.org
Miami developer Tibor Hollo
Hallandale Beach city commissioners have let a prominent developer off the hook for nearly half-a-million dollars in fines for property code violations accumulated before it bought the land at a much lower price than paid by the former owners.
In a contentious 3-2 vote on Wednesday, commissioners eliminated a trio of liens on property owned by the family of longtime Miami developer Tibor Hollo.
Jerome Hollo, an executive vice president with his father’s flagship corporation Florida East Coast Realty, said the commission’s decision allows him to move forward to obtain financing for a proposed 250-room hotel, residential and retail complex called “Bourbon Street” on 3.55 acres in the 800 block of N. Federal Highway, next to the Mardi Gras Casino.
“It’s going to be a wonderful project for the city,” said Hollo, who is also an executive with the company that purchased the property, 801 N Federal LLC. The younger Hollo appeared personally at Wednesday’s meeting at the request of the city commission, presenting them with preliminary architectural renderings of the proposed project.
But while the commission majority felt the $453,000 in fines were unfairly punitive, two other commissioners, William “Bill” Julian and Michele Lazarow, opposed the measure excusing the fines.
“I have a hard time forgiving this amount,” Julian said, adding he believes it would be the largest fine mitigation in the city’s history.
Julian said the Hollo group knew about the city’s liens when it bought the property in 2010 for $2.5 million. He also noted that the previous owner paid $12 million for the property in 2006.
“You got a heck of a deal and you are coming in [seeking relief]” knowing all that, Julian said.
“This is taxpayers’ money and I am being called to waive it,” said Lazarow. “We are trying to protect the taxpayers.”
But Mayor Joy Cooper, Commissioner Anthony Sanders and Vice Mayor Alexander Lewy agreed that total relief was appropriate.
“There is no money leaving the coffers of Hallandale Beach,” Lewy said. He added that well-off developers should not be treated differently than “mom and pop” property owners.
Preliminary rendering of proposed “Bourbon Street” development
The Hollo group, Lewy said, “wants to do construction.”
Commissioner Sanders indicated Hollo should not be penalized for getting a good deal on the property.
“He did a good business deal,” Sanders said.
Mayor Cooper said the intent of fines and liens has been to get property owners to clean up their property and comply with city codes, not to be punitive. That approach is common in many cities, she said.
Cooper noted that then-city manager Mark Antonio had asked the Hollo group to clean up the land under a city initiative to enhance and make properties attractive for development. Hollo’s group was told that if they complied the fines would be dropped, according to city documents.
“You did what Mark Antonio asked,” said Cooper.
Cooper accepted a $500 contribution from Tibor Hollo for her successful reelection campaign this past November.
Hollo’s attorney, Alan Koslow, pointed out that the fines were accumulated by former property owners and began with only $500. The fines increased daily when they did not comply, he said.
As part of the agreement to drop the fines, Hollo agreed to pay $4,615 to cover the city’s costs in connection with the violations, which included unsafe conditions and littered grounds that led to loitering and slum and blighted conditions.
The city’s Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA), which is governed by the commissioners, previously agreed to award the Hollo group $25,000 to clean up the property, with payment to be made once the liens are cleared.
If commissioners had not erased the fines, the city manager was authorized under city code to wipe out 90% of the fine.
That power concerned Julian and Lazarow.
“We are the ones who should make the decision,” Julian said.
Commissioners agreed to review the policy, which past city managers have used to wipe out fines both large and small. For example, in July 2010 the city manager forgave 90% of assessed code violation fines for foreclosed home at 747 NW Fifth Court – dropping the total owed from $176,300 to $17,630.
City records show the Hollo group acquired the properties on North Federal Highway in November 2010 from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation through a foreclosure process.
Both Tibor Hollo and Jerome Hollo are listed in state records as officials of 801 N Federal LLC.
A rendering of the proposed Beachwalk tower from developer's plans filed with Hallandale Beach
UPDATE: June 21 — Hallandale Beach commissioners gave final approval Wednesday night to developer Jorge Perez’s plan to construct Beachwalk – a $100-million, 31-story hotel-residential complex on the Intracoastal Waterway.
The proposed 305-foot tower at 2600 E. Hallandale Beach Boulevard will contain 216 two-bedroom hotel-condominium suites, 84 residential units, a 1,225-square-foot restaurant and a five-story parking garage.
Commissioners also gave approval for Perez’s Related Group of Florida to spend $2.5 million to create a lush park, with a two-story restaurant and concessions, at the city’s nearby oceanfront North Beach Park.
The group will manage the facility, but the city commission said the public would still have access to the oceanfront. The term of the lease was reduced from a proposed 30-year agreement to 15 years.
In approving the project, the developer received various zoning exemptions and concessioners, including a giveway by the city of more than a third of an acre of right-of-way along portions of Diana Drive to allow for more residential units. – William Gjebre
By William Gjebre, BrowardBulldog.org
June 7 – Hallandale Beach commissioners unanimously gave a tentative green light Wednesday night to Miami developer Jorge Perez’s plans to construct Beachwalk — a $100-million, 31-story, hotel-residential complex on the Intracoastal Waterway where the popular Manero’s restaurant once stood.
At the same time, commissioners put off until later this month a vote on a another aspect of the deal that would give Perez long-term control of a nearby prime parcel of city-owned oceanfront property to develop as a park with a restaurant.
The proposed 305-foot tower, at 2600 E. Hallandale Beach Blvd., would contain 216 two-bedroom suites that could serve as hotel rooms or condominiums, as well as an additional 84 apartments dedicated to being condominiums only. Plans include a 1,225-square foot restaurant and a five-story parking garage.
Final approvals are to be voted on June 20.
The developer, PRH-2600 Hallandale Beach LLC, is a Miami company controlled by Perez, chairman of the Related Group of Florida. If finally approved, the developer will receive various zoning exemptions and concessions, including a giveaway by the city of more than a third of an acre of right-of-way along a portion Diana Drive to allow for more residential units.
Local activist and commission candidate Csaba Kulin complained the project was too massive and that the city should not be awarding a 30-year contract for the development of the city’s one-acre oceanfront parcel.
“I’m against any giveaway of the beachfront area,” said candidate Kulin.
Kulin believes the deal would give another nearby Perez development access to the ocean and the developer control of 91 public parking spaces at the nearby residential Beach Club.
Kulin previously urged commissioners to defer the tower project because many of the residents are snowbirds and won’t be back in town until the fall.
“The problem is they are trying to shoehorn too big a building on a small site,” Kulin said.
The total site is 1.68 acres, including the land from Diana Drive.
Mayor Joy Cooper said earlier that negotiations with the developer were continuing.
“A lot of things can change,” said Cooper said, who noted that a parking shortage at the tower might not be as severe as it appears.
Cooper said she was not necessarily concerned about Perez’s group developing and managing the city’s North Beach park property, especially since he will pay for the improvements in accordance with the city’s master plan for parks. The city will be paid a percentage of the revenues from the restaurant and other concessions made available in the park, she said.
Cooper said Hallandale Beach needs new hotel space, especially at the oceanfront to attract tourists and visitors. The restaurant in the park will provide a wonderful oceanfront setting for dinners, she added.
Commissioner Keith London, who is running against Cooper, agreed.
“There is a need for quality hotel space in Hallandale.”
“The park,” London said, “has not been upgraded in well over a decade; this is an opportunity to upgrade without using taxpayer’s money.”
Perez, known as Miami’s “condo king,” did not appear at Wednesday’s meeting to talk about Beachwalk.
His Fort Lauderdale attorney, Debbie Orshefky of Greenberg Traurig, told commissioners, “We are confident that it will be successful.”
London and other commissioners hope to extract some concessions before the final vote, including a pledge from the developer that the beach park project will be completed first. Another request: regular monitoring of parking around the facility.
Residents who spoke at the meeting were equally divided on both sides of the project.
City staff endorsed the project. London, however, said he wasn’t happy that it took nearly two years to reach the commission, and that some agreements between the city and developer were incomplete.
City documents say the developer has vowed to spend up to $2.5 million to reshape the rundown North Beach park area with a two-story, 4,000-square foot structure to include the restaurant, restrooms and changing facilities for both beach goers and diners. There would be an additional 3,000 square feet of patio area facing the ocean.
Plans for the full-service restaurant call for indoor seating for 80 persons and outdoor seating for 100. Patrons could rent beach chairs, umbrellas, paddle boards and canoes. A volleyball area is planned.
For the first 10 years of the 30-year lease, the city would collect a minimum of $5,000 a month or 2.5% of gross park concession receipts, whichever is greater. The percentage would go up a notch to 3% in years 11 through 20, and rise another half-percent to 3.5% from years 21-30.
The concessionaire would pay all operating and maintenance for the park facility, and also give the city $200,000 to maintain other city parks.
Prior to issuance of the first building permit for the high-rise tower, the developer would give the city another $550,000 — $250,000 to be used for public improvements and $300,000 for improvements to affordable housing.
William Gjebre can be reached at email@example.com
By William Gjebre, BrowardBulldog.org
The Village at Gulfstream Park
Developers of a $1.2 billion residential and commercial development at Gulfstream Park have convinced commissioners at Broward County and Hallandale Beach to release them from an earlier pledge to build 225 units of affordable housing.
The county and city also agreed to eliminate requirements to build a 500-car parking garage area nearby and a connecting shuttle bus service to Hollywood’s Tri-Rail station. The concessions should save the developers of the Village at Gulfstream Park as much as $15 million.
As an alternative to building the 225 units, the developers have agreed to pay the city’s Community Redevelopment Agency at least $5,000 per unit – or $1.1 million. The money would go to rehabilitate housing or build new residences for low income residents elsewhere in the city.
“They are letting them off cheap,” said Broward Commissioner Sue Gunzburger, who opposed the project six years ago. The county commission OK’d the changes 6-3 in March.
“That’s way too low,” lamented community activist and city commission candidate Csaba Kulin. He said developers should have been asked to pay $50,000 per unit, or $11.5 million – an amount he contends was the city’s original low-ball estimate of building costs.
Kulin said developers would save an additional $5 million by not having to build the 500-car parking facility, and up to $250,000 a year by not having to implement the shuttle service. “Three gifts worth about $17 million,” Kulin said.
A spokesman for Village at Gulfstream Park defended the money-saving deal modifications.
“Things have changed since the project was approved,” said Will Vogel. He said that’s why Hallandale Beach approved the changes in December and the county followed suit in March.
The 1 million square foot development at Hallandale Beach’s famous horse track and casino is a signature project for the city, featuring commercial, condo and office space aimed at making it a destination, like downtown Fort Lauderdale, Aventura and South Beach.
CITY REBUFFS CRITICS
Alvin Jackson, executive director of Hallandale’s Community Redevelopment Agency, said the money from the developer will be used to “create a pot of funding to address existing substandard and foreclosed housing and possibly build some new housing in other parts” of the city’s redevelopment agency. He said he did not know how far $1 million would go to rehabilitate existing housing or build new housing.
“I don’t feel the developer got off the hook” by being allowed to contribute $5,000 per unit as an alternative to building them, Jackson said.
Broward County Director of Housing, Finance and Community Development Ralph Stone said that when the economy was booming it was possible to extract more money from developers for affordable housing.
“There was a profit in many of these projects and the builders could afford” to offer additional inducements,” Stone said. “But the real estate market and the economy changed; there’s less profit and thus these [inducements] could not be supported in projects in today’s market.”
“We have to be realistic,” Stone said.
In unanimously approving the proposed changes, Hallandale Beach commissioners included a provision urged by Mayor Joy Cooper that would hike the $5,000 payout slightly to adjust for annual increases in construction costs.
BIG PLANS FIZZLE
The project received widespread attention in November 2006 when the Hallandale City Commission approved zoning for the mixed-use project on 60.8 acres at the southeast corner of Hallandale Beach Boulevard and Federal Highway. This is the city’s busiest intersection, just opposite city hall and the city library; the city of Aventura is just south.
The Village at Gulfstream Park s a joint venture of Forest City Enterprises, headquartered in Cleveland, Ohio, and MI Development Inc. (MID), a real estate whose racetrack properties include Santa Anita Park in Southern California and Gulfstream Park, according to the developer’s website.
The joint venture presented a bold plan that was approved by the city and the county: 1,500 condominium units, including 225 affordable/workforce housing units, 75 of them inside the complex, and the other 150 offsite; 750,000 square feet of leasable retail space; 140,000 square feet of office space; a 500 room hotel and a 2,500 seat movie complex.
When built out, the complex and the adjacent race track and casino make for a compelling draw for locals and visitors from around the world.
The first portion of the restaurants and shops open February, 2010. Currently there is approximately 420,000 square feet of retail and 100,000 square feet of office.
With the approved changes, Vogel said, it is now “more practical and feasible to go forward.”
Vogel said Village at Gulfstream Park is having some talks with developers regarding construction of the residential units. City documents indicate that, giving the current economic situation, the first units may be rentals rather than sale units. There may be some workforce housing and some affordable housing in the complex, Vogel added.
The developers hope to have agreements by the end of this year, Vogel told city commissioners, for not only the first housing units, but also for the hotel, and the movie complex.
William Gjebre can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org