Hashemi Out at IPIC, Delray Election Update & More

ipic delray
IPIC Delray

A new IPIC has emerged from the company’s bankruptcy filing, and it doesn’t include founder Hamid Hashemi.

According to a Monday press release, that new company is IPIC Theaters LLC. State records show that the company was created on Nov. 6. The new owner is the Retirement System of Alabama (RSA), based in Montgomery. It oversees the pensions of thousands of state employees and the related investment funds. The managing member is listed as M. Hunter Harrell, RSA’s director of private placements.

Under Hashemi, RSA had been IPIC’s largest creditor at roughly $200 million. For perspective, RSA’s portfolio is roughly $43 billion.

The release said IPIC Theaters LLC “acquired substantially all of the operating assets of the affiliated debtors” through a bankruptcy court hearing in Delaware. After filing for Chapter 11 in August, IPIC has continued to operate its 15 theaters—including one in Boca Raton and another in Delray Beach. Another had been planned for downtown Fort Lauderdale.

The new company, the release said, “will have a solid financial foundation” and “opportunities for strategic growth.” In a statement, the company said, “IPIC will continue to be a pioneering brand, leading the frontier or luxury moviegoing entertainment and unparalleled destination dining.”

As of Monday, the company had not named a CEO. Holdover management has been operating IPIC. Delray Beach officials especially will want to know who’s making decisions, since Hashemi had pledged to move IPIC headquarters from Boca Raton as part of the Fourth and Fifth project on Atlantic Avenue.

ipic

The company would have taken roughly half of the project’s Class A office space. Delray Beach also recently allowed IPIC to add a rooftop bar. Neither Hashemi nor IPIC owns the site and the building. The owner is a Boston-based company called Delray Beach 4th & 5th Avenue LLC.

When IPIC filed for bankruptcy protection, CEO David Bonner didn’t seem worried about RSA’s investment. “It’s not like buying a beat-up car or a beat-up house,” he told the Montgomery Advertiser. “You’ve got the Rolls Royce of movie theaters in these huge towns.”

People in Delray Beach and Boca Raton want to know what RSA plans to do with its new assets. I would expect the issue to come up during today’s Delray Beach City Commission meeting. I’ll have more on Thursday.

Delray & Match Point

On the agenda for today’s meeting is a proposed settlement between Delray Beach and Match Point, promoter of the annual pro tennis tournament.

tennis
Photo by Ben Hershey on Unsplash

A previous commission sued the company, claiming that the 2005 contract was invalid. Commissioners believed that the 25-year deal had become too expensive for the city and restricted use of the stadium court at the tennis center.

There are no public details about the terms. The backup material refers only to a “confidential memorandum previously distributed” to the commission.

Coincidentally, also on Tuesday’s agenda is approval of $905,000 from the community redevelopment agency to help sponsor the 2020 tournament. It will take place from Feb. 14 to Feb. 23.

And a raise?

Also today, the city commission likely will approve for the March ballot an ordinance that would make it easier to raise commissioners’ salaries.

Current law requires a six-month notice before a referendum on salaries, usually at the time of city elections. Because Delray Beach doesn’t have elections each year, Mayor Shelly Petrolia said she wanted a less restrictive policy. Petrolia believes that salaries are too low.

Delray election update

atlantic avenue

Delray Beach City Commissioner Bill Bathurst raised $44,000 in October for his reelection campaign.

It’s a stunning figure. Many credible municipal candidates never come close to that amount overall. In the five-plus years I’ve written this blog, I can’t recall a monthly total at that level.

The donors comprise much of Delray Beach’s corporate establishment: $3,000 from Ocean Properties; $4,000 from the developer of the Midtown project and the developer’s attorney; $6,000 from Big Time Restaurant Group, which operates City Oyster, Elisabetta’s and Rocco’s Tacos; $2,000 from 13th Floor Investments, one of the companies that bought the former Office Depot campus; $1,000 from the law firm representing the developer of the three-block project on West Atlantic Avenue; $500 from Menin Development, which is building The Ray Hotel and Delray Beach Market, and $500 from the firm’s general counsel, former City Commissioner Jordana Jarjura.

Four candidates have filed paperwork to challenge Bathurst, who was elected in 2017 without opposition. Collectively, they have raised $15,200.

Opioid lawsuit update

At today’s meeting, the Palm Beach County Commission may remove the county from the class-action lawsuit against the opioid industry.

The county would continue its lawsuit individually. A federal judge in Ohio has consolidated roughly 2,000 lawsuits by local governments—one of them Delray Beach —and is pushing for a settlement rather than a trial.

Commissioner Robert Weinroth represents Boca Raton and much of Delray Beach. The problem, Weinroth said, is the new attempt to expand the class to what could be many more plaintiffs, potentially individual paramedics —not just the city in which they work—and the county’s taxpayer-supported hospital district.

If that happened, Weinroth said, it could “dilute the class” that now includes the county and thus lower any payout. The defendants want a comprehensive settlement, so they want as many plaintiffs as possible. A related proceeding in Boston seeks to put Purdue Pharma—maker of OxyContin—into bankruptcy and reorganize it without the founding Sacker family. The company then would pay victims from sales of. . .opioids.

Licata on the move?

Peter Licata wants to leave the Palm Beach County School District, but many in Boca Raton and Delray Beach are glad that he’s staying—for now.

licata
Peter Licata, photo courtesy of SDPBC

Licata is the district’s south county superintendent, in charge of 59 schools. He knows the area, having been principal at Boca Raton Middle School and Olympic Heights High School. Elected officials credit Licata’s involvement with getting key projects—rebuilds and expansions of Addison Mizner and Verde elementaries in Boca Raton and Plumosa School of the Arts in Delray Beach—into the district’s construction plan from the 2016 sales tax surcharge.

Because Superintendent Donald Fennoy isn’t going anywhere, Licata would like a top job somewhere. He applied for the superintendent’s job in Volusia County. He was a finalist in Indian River, but last week the school board chose someone else.

Frank Barbieri, the school board member who represents Boca Raton and West Boca, said, “I’m happy for Palm Beach County, but I’m sorry for him. He would have done an excellent job” in Volusia or Indian River. Barbieri predicts that Licata “eventually will get a superintendency.”

Marie Horenburger

A former Delray Beach politico has died.

Marie Horenburger served on the city commission three decades ago. She also served on the Boynton Beach Community Redevelopment Agency board and spent two decades on the Tri-Rail board.

In between, Horenburger was a lobbyist before local governments. Her last clients were Waste Management and The Weitz Company, a construction firm. Horenburger was an ally of Mary McCarty, who was a city commission colleague before her election to the county commission in 1990. McCarty has stayed active in city politics after her release from prison on corruption charges.

Human rights and the strip club

What does Delray Beach have in common with an Orlando strip joint? Enough, apparently, to get an item onto today’s city commission agenda.

In April 2018, two women tried to enter Rachel’s. (There’s a club by the same name in West Palm Beach.) According to their lawsuit, Rachel’s didn’t allow them in because a man wasn’t with them.

The women allege that their treatment violated Orange County’s human rights ordinance, which prohibits gender-based discrimination. In a memo, the city’s legal department notes that Delray Beach has a similar ordinance.

Rachel’s countered that the plaintiffs should have filed their case under the Florida Civil Rights Act. In May, a trial court judge ruled for the club. The plaintiffs have appealed.

If the ruling stands, according to the memo, it could jeopardize Delray Beach’s ordinance and many others. City Attorney Lynn Gelin wants to file a friend-of-the-court brief in support of the appeal.

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