Deconstructing West Atlantic Proposals and Other News From Delray and Boca

Rendering by Prime Investors

Members of the Delray Beach Community Redevelopment Agency will have varied choices when they choose a developer for the project that is supposed to catalyze redevelopment of West Atlantic Avenue.

The companies are competing to buy three blocks of CRA-owned land east of the Fairfield Inn. When the six proposals arrived at the Nov. 2 deadline, the CRA could release only the bidders’ names. Now the proposals are public, and I’ve reviewed them. Next Tuesday, CRA staff will present the bids to the CRA board, which is the city commission and appointed members Angeleta Gray and Pamela Brinson.

Here’s a summary of each bid:

BH3: The company calls its project AtlaWest. It would include a 33,000-square foot grocery store—the CRA requires that each bidder include a full-service grocer —plus 41,000 square feet of retail. Existing tenants who stayed in AtlaWest would get below-market rates. New tenants would pay market rates.

AtlaWest also would have 21,000 square feet of office space, which BH3 would reserve for “incubators,” since the CRA wants the winning project to create jobs. BH3 also would build 165 market-rate rental apartments and says it would provide additional workforce housing units by using other company-owned properties near the site.

The headline, however, is that BH3 wants the roughly nine acres for free and $13.7 million in CRA subsidies. Without community support, BH3 says in its proposal, the $51 million project is not “financeable.” Though the company believes that other bidders “will come to the same or similar conclusion,” only BH3 is asking the CRA for so much in subsidy.

Jones New Urban: Jones calls its project Set Atlantic. It would include 30 small buildings. Set Atlantic would have 197 market-rate apartments and 27 workforce housing apartments. That latter component is another requirement, to keep from pricing out all residents.

Also proposed are a pharmacy, a restaurant and 15,000 square feet of office space. Jones also would fix up surrounding streets and use local companies for outreach. The company would pay $4 million for the land. Jones envisions completion of the first building by April 2020 and completion of the whole project in June 2022.

Knowing the importance of the project to the surrounding neighborhoods, Jones said it would create the Set Atlantic Foundation, to finance community needs. The company would donate $50,000 a year for 10 years.

Kayne Anderson: The company pitches its project as an “innovation hub.” At 50,000 square feet, it would have the most office space. Supplementing the grocery store would be 25,000 square feet of other retail space.

Kayne also would build 142 apartments and another 54 condos with workforce housing prices. The proposal stresses “community wealth building” and promises job fairs. The company would pay $4.25 million for the property. The project would cost $65 million.

Each bidder tries to leverage familiar names. Kayne Anderson’s general contractor would be Kaufman Lynn, which moved its headquarters from Boca Raton to Delray Beach. The company’s attorney is Bonnie Miskel, who represented iPic in its application for Fourth and Fifth Delray, which should open next year.

Land America: Its project would include three, three-story buildings. The first, nearest the Fairfield Inn, would have the grocer and 10,000 square feet of other retail. The middle would have a restaurant and 36 apartments. The easternmost building would have additional retail and 182 apartments, broken into blocks of 160 and 22.

This was the briefest proposal, so there’s not much information past the basics.

Prime Investors: The company that developed the Fairfield Inn proposes a “village lifestyle center” that includes another hotel, which would have 117 rooms. Prime is the only bidder to include a hotel.

The “lifestyle center” also would include 94 apartments, 20,000 square feet of retail above the grocer and 32,000 square feet of office space. Prime would pay $4 million for the land and the project would cost $53 million.

Uptown Delray: This is basically the same project that a previous CRA board chose in 2013. Three years later, the CRA cancelled the purchase contract because the developer hadn’t obtained financing, even after the project had obtained all necessary approvals.

The developer proposes three buildings—one of four stories, another of three stories and a third of two stories. There would be 40,000 square feet of retail, including the grocer, 17,000 square feet of offices and 129 apartments. Uptown notes that construction could start soon because of those existing approvals.

The CRA will not vote next week. Members only will ask questions and discuss the proposals. They can’t indicate any preference because a “cone of silence” is in effect under bidding rules. Any violation could force the CRA to start over. But we may be able to detect preferences based on the questions.

A four-person committee will choose three finalists, based on five categories. Bidders can get a maximum of 25 points for their concept, 20 points for their project team, finances and inclusion and 15 points for fiscal. That last category likely relates to how much the company would pay, what it may ask from the city and the projected return on the city’s investment in the land.

From the CRA, committee members are Assistant Director Renee Jadusingh and Economic Development Director Joan Goodrich. From the city, the members are Planning, Building and Zoning Director Tim Stillings and Senior Planner Anthea Gianniotes.

CRA Executive Director Jeff Costello had planned to serve on the committee, but he recused himself after the bids came in because he worked previously for Jones New Urban. Costello said he hopes the CRA will choose a developer in January.

And more on Uptown…

Uptown Delray rendering

There are curiosities about Uptown Delray’s proposal.

In 2013, the developer was John Flynn, whose company is Palm Beach Gardens based-Equity Development. Flynn remained the developer last spring, when Mayor Shelly Petrolia tried to give Flynn a second chance rather than seek new bids.

The name on Uptown’s current proposal, however, is Harold Van Arnem. He’s a Delray Beach resident who owns Van Arnem Properties. I left a message on the company’s phone asking about the change, but I did not hear back by deadline for this post.

In addition, an attorney for “Equity Delray, LLC – Delray Beach Uptown Atlantic Project” wrote to CRA Attorney D.J. Doody in October. The attorney claimed that Equity owns the copyright from all plans related to the first proposal and thus has a “superior, proprietary interest in all such Project Plans, as well as in all Approvals that were issued by the city. . .”

It was an odd letter. Why would any competitor want Uptown’s plans? I left a message for the attorney but didn’t hear back. Doody answered with a letter disputing Equity’s claim of “proprietary interest.”

Takeaways

One takeaway from all the proposals is that a Publix won’t be part of any project on that property.

Several CRA members have expressed hope for a Publix. After killing the deal with Equity Delray, the CRA tried to strike a deal with Publix, but the company’s terms were not acceptable.

All the letters of interest in the six proposals come from Aldi, the German-based house-brand grocery chain, or organic/vegan grocers.

Camino Square

Camino Square

Boca Raton’s social media network is buzzing about the scheduled decision Monday on Camino Square.

The community redevelopment agency will debate the project proposed for the former Winn-Dixie plaza along Camino Real west of Dixie Highway. The planning and zoning board recommended approval even though the staff report had favored denial. I’ll have more this week after the city posts the backup material for Monday’s meeting.

Death in a parking lot

On Monday morning, first-responder vehicles were all around the Publix at Federal Highway and Camino Real. No crime, however, had occurred.

According to a police spokeswoman, there had been a “non-suspicious death” in the parking lot. Someone had died in a vehicle. It’s a case for the medical examiner’s office, not the police department.

Investing in systems upgrade

Sometimes, cities make big investments in things residents never see and take for granted. Think water and sewer systems that keep functioning during hurricanes.

Boca Raton is making a seven-figure investment in the city’s financial system that will take three years to implement, according to a city spokeswoman. The first stage will be new software for the every-other-month water bills. After that will come the process for land development applications and the city’s internal numbers-counting.

It sounds boring. In most respects, it is boring–until a city can’t keep track of its finances. Remember when Gov. Rick Scott’s administration mashed up the seemingly simple SunPass system? All the bugs still aren’t gone. Boca’s investment will pay off if no one talks about it.

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