Saturday, January 28, 2023

Divide Over OSS Revenue & an Update on BRIC’s Redevelopment

Delray Beach and the Downtown Development Authority may be further apart on Old School Square than participants in the negotiations may have implied.

During Tuesday’s city commission meeting, City Attorney Lynn Gelin responded to a question about the second delay of a proposal for the DDA to run the downtown cultural complex. Commission debate had been scheduled for a December meeting and then planned for Tuesday’s meeting.

“The biggest issue,” Gelin said, “is revenue sharing.” From what I have been told, the DDA wants to retain any excess money from Old School Square. The city wants to keep it. There also may be issues about operations.

DDA Executive Director Laura Simon and City Manager Terrence Moore had said, essentially, that the two sides were down to small details. Simon said, “We’re 98 percent there.”

Gelin sounded less optimistic. She plans to meet individually with each commissioner. If sticking points remain, Gelin said, DDA representatives might have to appear before the commission “with their concerns.”

Politics is part of this issue. Commissioner Juli Casale was one of three votes to end the lease with Old School Square for the Arts, the complex’s founder. She faces reelection in March. Her opponent, Rob Long, has made cancellation of the lease part of his campaign. Casale has every reason to hope for an agreement with the DDA soon.

As for the DDA, operating Old School Square would be a massive expansion of its mission. DDA board members said the agency must step in because Old School Square is so important to the downtown economy.

The new target is the Feb. 7 commission meeting. I’ll update before then with any developments.

An update on BRIC’s redevelopment

bric
BRIC Rendering

At Monday’s workshop meeting, Boca Raton city council members will get an update on plans for redeveloping the Boca Raton Innovation Campus (BRIC).

In late 2021, representatives of BRIC’s owner, CP Group, offered an ambitious vision for the former IBM campus that has 1.7 million square feet of office space. CP wanted to add 1,000 residential units, a hotel, a grocery store and other amenities to draw more tenants to a “live, work, play” setting.

CP would need new zoning rules for the project. Since that appearance, company officials and city planners have worked to produce an ordinance that would govern BRIC’s new phase.

Angelo Bianco is CP’s managing partner. On Wednesday, he praised the staff for its collaboration and “hustle.” Development Services Director Brandon Schaad will go over the ordinance at Monday’s meeting. Because council members have had regular updates, Bianco said, “No one should be surprised.”

Bianco hopes that the ordinance can go to the planning and zoning board next month and to the council in March. I’ll have a report after Monday’s meeting.

Two high-stakes Boca lawsuits

Two major lawsuits against Boca Raton may be approaching inflection points.

One concerns an oceanfront lot where a developer wanted to build a luxury duplex. The city council denied the necessary variance, but the developer prevailed in a court challenge. Azure Development alleged that council members Andrea O’Rourke and Monica Mayotte had prejudiced themselves before the vote by stating their opposition to the project. A court agreed.

Azure also filed a lawsuit seeking public records from how the city and its consultant recommended that the council deny the variance. On Friday, Palm Beach County Circuit Judge Donald Hafele will hold a hearing on Azure’s proposed final judgment in the case.

The other case concerns the proposed adult living facility near Addison Mizner School. City staff concluded that the project would require a comprehensive plan amendment. The owner of the property challenged that finding, seeking to have the court order the city to process the application.

On Monday, Palm Beach County Circuit Court Judge Samantha Schosberg Feuer is scheduled to hear the city’s motion to dismiss the lawsuit. In a separate hearing today, Feuer will rule on the plaintiff’s objection to documents that the city is using to make its argument for dismissal.

If Boca Raton loses, the city could have to allow ALFs in other neighborhoods. I’ll update after the hearings.

Delray resident to receive Congressional Gold Medal

Benjamin Ferencz; photo credit: Adam Jones, Ph.D., CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0), via Wikimedia Common

George Washington received the first Congressional Gold Medal. The latest recipient will be a West Delray resident who is the last living prosecutor at the Nuremberg Trials.

Ben Ferencz has lived in the Kings Point community since 1977. A native of Romania, he was just 27 when he participated in the trials of ex-Nazis that followed World War II. Ferencz has written or co-authored 10 books and is a well-known lecturer. He appeared in the 2018 movie “Prosecuting Evil.”

U.S. Rep. Lois Frankel, D-West Palm Beach, sponsored the legislation that will allow Ferencz to receive the medal. Frankel will sign the legislation during a ceremony at 10 a.m. this morning in Kings Point’s Flanders Clubhouse.

The most recent Congressional Gold Medal recipients were Emmett Till, whose 1955 lynching helped to touch off the civil rights movement, and his mother, Mamie Till-Mobley. Before them, the medal went to the Americans whom Iran took hostage at the U.S. embassy in 1979.

Ferencz will receive the award as the Anti-Defamation League reports renewed domestic anti-Semitism, especially in Florida. Ferencz has devoted his life to tolerance. As he said:

“I don’t think I’m an idealist. I’m a realist. And I see the progress. Look at the emancipation of women in my lifetime. . .Look what’s happened to the same-sex marriages. To tell somebody a man can become a woman, a woman can become a man, and a man can marry a man, they would have said, ‘You’re crazy.’ But it’s a reality today. So the world is changing.”

Remembering Yvonne Boice

Yvonne Boice

Yvonne Boice, a longtime local philanthropist and businesswoman, died Friday at her Boca Raton home.

Ms. Boice came to the city in 1983 with her first husband. After he died suddenly, Ms. Boice had to take over development of what became the Shoppes at Village Pointe on Southwest 18th Street just west of Boca Raton.

From that, Ms. Boice went on to represent the United States at several international meetings of businesswomen. She chaired the 50th anniversary celebration of the National Endowment for the Humanities. At home, she was a patron of Lynn University and Palm Beach State College.

Ms. Boice is survived by her daughter, Lauren Boice and her husband, Al Zucaro, former publisher of the BocaWatch website. She was 85.

Correction

Last week, I wrote that West Palm Beach-based WGI had hired former Palm Beach County Commissioner Melissa McKinlay as vice president of government relations. I referred to the company as a developer. WGI provides services to the development industry.

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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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