Wednesday, May 31, 2023

Boca Museum Retreats from Cornell and Former Bank Lot Sells for $25M

The Boca Raton Museum of Art is removing itself from any role in operating the Cornell Museum in Delray Beach.

At least for now.

Executive Director Irvin Lippman told me Wednesday that he has conveyed that message to City Manager Terrence Moore and Mayor Shelly Petrolia. At the city commission’s June 14 meeting, Petrolia and commissioners Juli Casale and Shirley Johnson asked Moore to reopen discussions with the museum. In April, Moore had presented the commission with a contract for the museum to run the Cornell for 18 months. Johnson voted it down with Ryan Boylston and Adam Frankel.

Boylston and Frankel criticized their colleagues for acting even before last week’s town meeting seeking public input on the future of the Cornell specifically and Old School Square generally. The Cornell is part of Old School Square.

Lippman did not rule out a future role for the Boca Raton Museum of Art. Any consideration, though, must wait for Delray Beach to find “undivided consensus.”

That could be a long wait. Delray Beach has been divided on Old School Square since last August, when Petrolia, Casale and Johnson ended the lease that the complex’s eponymous founding organization had held since 1989. The Cornell and Crest Theater, which anchor Old School Square, have been closed since the lease termination took effect in February.

In its lawsuit, Old School Square for the Arts alleges a conspiracy that culminated in Johnson making a motion on the lease at a meeting when the subject wasn’t on the agenda. The lawsuit claims that Johnson was played.

Similarly, at that June 14 meeting the commission majority asked Moore also to discuss a role for a two-person group called Visual Adjectives that works out of Arts Warehouse, the city’s cultural startup space. It seemed that Petrolia and Casale had added Visual Adjectives to get Johnson’s support for hiring the Boca Raton Museum of Art.

The city billed the meeting, known as a charrette, as a way to find out what people want at Old School Square, not who would provide programming and events. An Old School Square for the Arts supporter told me that the meeting produced ideas that are “90 percent of what Old School Square was doing.”

Lippman praised Arts Warehouse. His museum would be willing to offer Delray Beach ideas as sort of “a consultant.” But that’s it. Which leaves the city with no better ideas about how to open the heart of Old School Square anytime soon.

Big plans for Delray’s Bank of America building

A transaction last week reinforced the strength of the South Florida commercial real estate market.

CDS International Holdings, which is based in Delray Beach, bought the 55,000-foot building leased by Bank of America and the roughly four-acre site for $25 million. In January 2008, the property in the city’s Osceola Park neighborhood changed hands for $15 million. Keith O’Donnell of Avison Young and Mark Rubin of Colliers International brokered this deal.

Jeff Perlman is executive vice president of CDS and a former Delray Beach mayor. In a statement, he said, “We are already creating a vision for the property, which will anchor the southern gateway to one of the best downtowns in South Florida and most vibrant central business districts in the country.”

DeSantis signs Florida Clean Air Act into law

no smoking
Photo by George Morina from Pexels

Even when the Legislature this year allowed cities some local control, the bill came with conditions.

Last week, Gov. DeSantis signed the Florida Clean Air Act. In 1985, the Legislature enhanced the Florida Clean Indoor Air Act that required smoke-free areas in most public places. In 2002, voters amended the state constitution to further restrict indoor smoking, especially at offices and stores. A follow-up amendment in 2018 added vaping to the restrictions.

But regulation of tobacco, like firearms regulation, remained pre-empted to the state, except for schools. Effective Friday, in time for the holiday weekend, House Bill 105 allows cities and counties to restrict smoking at beaches and parks. Even outside, secondhand smoke can cause problems, and cigarette butts can litter beaches and parks.

Legislators, however, exempted “unfiltered cigars.” That was a nod to the state’s cigar industry, based mostly in Miami and Tampa and with many friends in Tallahassee.

Delray Beach’s code already prohibited smoking at the popular public beach—outside of designated areas—but a spokeswoman said the city never enforced it because of that pre-emption. She said the city is aligning the code to comply with the new law, which Delray Beach now will enforce—cigars exempted, of course.

Boca Raton beaches also are smoke-free. Now the city has state law to back that up.

Silver Palm Park reopens

silver palm boat launch
The boat launch at Silver Palm Park. Photo by Randy Schultz.

Also in time for the holiday weekend, Boca Raton on Friday will reopen the public boat launch at Silver Palm Park.

The facility has been closed since September so the city could make improvements. There are now two ramps, a fish cleaning station and new bathrooms. Fees will be prorated, meaning owners will pay only on the length of time until Sept. 30, the end of the budget year.

Silver Palm will be part of a remade waterfront along the Intracoastal Waterway at the Palmetto Park Road Bridge. Wildflower Park, on the north side of the bridge, is scheduled to open this fall.

New bill limits regulations on home businesses

florida state capitol
Florida State Capitol, photo courtesy of Adobe Stock.

I wrote Tuesday about DeSantis vetoing legislation that would have allowed businesses to sue cities over regulations. Local governments especially appreciated the veto after what the Legislature did last year.

Tallahassee greatly limited how much cities can regulate home-based businesses. Sponsors defended the bill by saying that it would spur job creation. The Florida League of Cities opposed it, citing a threat to residential neighborhoods.

Because of the new law, local governments must update their land development regulations. Example: home-based businesses now can employ as many as two people who don’t live in the home. Delray Beach will eliminate the category of “home tutorial” businesses because the rules for such businesses don’t comply with the law.

Cities still can require home-based businesses to maintain a “residential character” and limit how many signs a business can display. Delray’s changes went to the planning and zoning board this month and will go before the city commission this summer.

Happy July 4th!

Happy Fourth, everyone. My next post will be on July 12.

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Randy Schultz
Randy Schultz
Randy Schultz, a native of Hartford, Connecticut, has been a South Florida journalist since 1974. He worked for The Miami Herald until 1976 and for The Palm Beach Post from 1976 until 2014, where he served as managing editor and editorial page editor. Since 2014, he has written a politics blog, commentaries and other articles for Boca magazine. His writing has earned first-place awards from the Florida Magazine Association and the Florida Society of Newspaper Editors. Randy has lived in Boca Raton with his wife, Shelley Huff-Schultz, since 1985. His son, daughter-in-law and their three children also live in Boca Raton.

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