CRA moves forward with Frenchtown Gateway Plan

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) — Change is coming to Frenchtown. The Tallahassee Community Redevelopment Agency is moving along with plans to invest.

It has a lot of people in the historic neighborhood saying ‘it’s about time.’ 

A lot of people in the area walk, but the only walk-able food option is Dollar General or Family Dollar, neither of which sells things like meat and produce.

Now that the CRA’s Frenchtown Gateway Plan is in the negotiating phase to make way for a major redevelopment project.

Between West Tennessee, North Macomb, and West Virginia streets, two separate proposals will bring in many of the things people have spent years asking the city for.

The proposals include bring in a senior complex, workforce housing, a parking garage, an urgent care clinic, and of course a grocery store.

“Our community is rising for the better because there are economy based apartments over there and the city owns the other apartments. And there will be grocery stores and shops in that complex. It’ll be kinda like Gaines Street and what they did over there,” said John Cozart.

These proposals are still in the early phases.

They’re still talking to some of the existing property owners and working on securing the land that will see all of the development.

The CRA Board, along with people involved in the development plan will continue to work on a purchase agreement for those proposals.

Read the article on WTXL Tallahassee

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Riviera OKs talks for major marina mixed-use complex

Artist’s rendering of Riviera Beach Marina project. [Courtesy of APD-Tezral]
Artist’s rendering of Riviera Beach Marina project. [Courtesy of APD-Tezral]

RIVIERA BEACH — In what could be the biggest redevelopment project in Riviera Beach history, the city has approved talks with a development team to add a hotel, shops, restaurants, apartments and parking garage to the marina waterfront.

The city council, acting as the CRA board, on Oct. 9 voted 3-1 to begin negotiations on the long-delayed Marina Village project with a joint venture of two minority-owned firms, APD Solutions Real Estate Group and Tezral Partners. APD is based in Atlanta, while Tezral is based in West Palm and includes Riviera Beach’s former CRA director, Tony Brown.

The plan calls for a 130-room hotel, 225,000 square feet of retail and restaurant space, up to 320 workforce apartment units, 1,600 parking spaces, as well as attractions and entertainment activities that will take place in Bicentennial Park.

The project, to include more than 56,000 square feet of retail space designated for local entrepreneurs, will create 1,300 jobs, Brown said.

The firms submitted individual proposals in July 2018. After reviewing them, the CRA eventually asked the firms to submit a joint proposal, which they did in July 2019. With the board vote this month, the team moves into preliminary negotiations with the city.

City Councilman Douglas Lawson said Thursday it was time to get the project moving despite any reservations, rather than start over and incur more delays.

“I don’t want to continually just kick the can down the road,” he said. “What we really want to do is just go ahead and take what we have now and move forward with it.”

Councilwoman Julie Botel agreed the city needed to act.

“We don’t know what the economy will do in the next six to eight months,” she said. “The financing is available now. These were the legitimate bidders. I’m happy to know they are minority-owned businesses, one of whom is a very local business, and thrilled to know we will have three new restaurants, a parking garage, workforce housing and a hotel.”

Marina Village is a 23-acre area between the Intracoastal Waterway and U.S. 1 that the city and CRA have spent about $35 million on in preparation for redevelopment. The strategic vision for the project is to leverage Riviera Beach’s public waterfront and maritime district setting to create a complex that serves as a destination center and employment hub.

The city has been trying to redo the waterfront for at least 15 years, choosing Viking in 2005 to be master developer of a $375 million project. Riviera Beach and Viking never came to terms terms regarding leasing, land swaps, parking and building height, however and that plan died in 2015.

The $27 million first phase opened in 2016 with a two-story Marina Event Center and a pavilion at a revamped Bicentennial Park with a children’s splash fountain and waterfront promenade. The event center, located at the foot of East 13th Street south of Blue Heron Boulevard, overlooks the Intracoastal Waterway and the 111-slip marina.

The second phase would take up 6 acres in the interior of the district, just north of the Port of Palm Beach. The CRA has held initial talks with port staff about the possibility some of the proposed marina garage could be leased to the port, which needs more parking.

Brown, CRA director during the first phase, said the second phase will require swapping land with Viking Developers because the CRA needs additional land.

According to Scott Evans, interim CRA executive director, Viking and the CRA have agreed to the swap in writing, with final terms to be worked out.

Viking controls a piece of land south of old 13th Street, while the CRA controls a site to the north. Because of the configuration of the sites, the swap would create parcels for both parties that could be developed with larger projects, Evans said.

The only vote against the project came from Councilwoman Shirley Lanier.

“I am excited about the Marina Project and I welcome economic development in the City of Riviera Beach. But I am overly cautious about embarking on such a significant project as we are talking about taxpayers resources,” Lanier said in an email Saturday.

My concerns are in relation to the inconsistencies in the (bid) procurement process, the surety of how the project will be financed and by whom, and most importantly, the benefits to all the residents of the City,” she said.

Read Article on Palm Beach Post
Follow Tony Doris on Twitter @TonyDorisPBP

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Riviera Beach’s new Marina Event Center, park set to open in May

Riviera Beach — In the 1920s Riviera Beach was a quaint fishing village. Today it’s still home to marine-oriented businesses — Cracker Boy Boat Works, the city’s marina, Albury Brothers Boats and others — and activities such deep sea fishing and scuba diving.

The marine-centric past and present remains the focus as city officials hope to raise Riviera Beach’s profile with its new Marina Event Center, scheduled to open in May. It’s a key cornerstone for revitalization in a city with a high share of low income neighborhoods juxtaposed against wealthy Singer Island.

Riviera Beach’s new Marina Event Center, park set to open in May photo

The new Riviera Beach Marina Event Center is entering the final phases of construction and will open to the public in late spring. (Allen Eyestone / The Palm Beach Post) Continue reading

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T. Brown Consulting Group Secures $40 Million for Clients in latest competition for New Markets Tax Credits

Riviera Beach, FL May 4, 2013 – The Community Development Financial Institutions Fund (CDFI Fund), a division of the US Department of Treasury, announced on Wednesday April 24, 2013 awards for $3.5 billion in New Markets Tax Credit (NMTC) allocations.  Among the winners of these coveted credits are The Kroger Co. and the Oakland Renaissance NMTC, Inc.  T. Brown Consulting Group (TBCG) managed the submittal of applications for both entities.

Under the leadership of Tony Brown, President and CEO of TBCG, the companies each received a $20 million allocation, making both first time allocatees. The CDFI Fund reports just 10 of the 85 award recipients were first time winners, giving TBCG 20% of this highly select group of awardees. “The NMTC program is highly competitive.  We pre-qualify our potential clients and give you a first-hand assessment of your qualifications.  We offer no guarantees but our experience informs us of the traits of highly qualified applications.  We will not take on new clients if our pre-qualification assessments cannot place you in a competitive pool. In the 2012 round, two of three of our clients’ applications were funded,” said Brown.

Kroger, one of the world’s largest retailers,  will use its tax credit allocation to construct or renovate grocery stores to increase healthy food options in areas designated by the USDA as “food deserts” (low income areas lacking convenient access to grocery stores).  The Oakland Renaissance has gained an important tool to finance real estate and small businesses after redevelopment agencies in California were stripped of their tax increment financing authority.

States and Territories identified by CDFI Fund in 2012 that have received fewer dollars of Qualified Low Income Community Investments (QLICIs) in proportion to their statewide population residing in Low-Income Communities:
Alabama Arkansas Florida
Georgia Idaho Kansas
Nevada Tennessee Texas
West Virginia Puerto Rico Island Areas of the United States (American Samoa, Guam, Northern Mariana Islands, and US Virgin Islands)

In 2012, Brown saw the CDFI Fund make changes to the application process after advocating for two key changes:  1) He actively advocated for more tax credits in underserved states such as Florida (see box on right).  Subsequently, the Fund added a question to allow CDEs to remark on their efforts to generate NMTC loan volume in these underserved areas.

2) Brown feels that the deployment threshold for CDEs re-applying is too low.  An applicant previously funded can re-apply based on tax credits deployed or investors committed. Brown believes the “investor commitment” threshold favors large banks and other applicants that can self-fund their CDEs.  “In 10 rounds of funding, and with a large pool of highly qualified applicants left unfunded, the CDFI Fund needs to change the threshold requirements and focus on tax credits deployed,” commented Brown who managed implementation of the NMTC program in 2001.  “Instead of raising the bar for repeat allocatees, I have witnessed the Fund lowering the standard.  It is time for them to focus on deployment and not lingering investor commitments.  There are too many worthy applications unfunded for projects in distressed communities to continue to allow a pre-set number of CDEs to win year after year if their tax credits are delayed in being deployed,” advocated Brown.

For more information visit T. Brown Consulting Group at

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Riviera Beach chooses Brown to Head Redevelopment Agency

Riviera Beach, FL September 15, 2010 – Tony Brown accepts post as the new executive director of the Riviera Beach Community Development Agency in Riviera Beach, Florida.  Brown’s partners will manage the day-to-day responsibilities of T. Brown Consulting Group, LLC (TBCG) during his two-year term as executive director. 

“The lure to lead another high profile redevelopment initiative was too tempting to resist.  I have long felt that the city of Riviera Beach boasted one of the best urban beach communities in the state,” commented Tony Brown.  “I am drawn to this city with the same affinity and affection that I have for my hometown of Cincinnati. I feel that my unique life experiences will resonate well and bring this diverse community together to help it achieve the key elements of the redevelopment plan.” 

Brown sees Riviera Beach as a community developer’s paradise.   Located in Palm Beach County on Florida’s east coast, the city was incorporated September 29, 1922.  As of 2004, its predominantly African American population was estimated by the U.S. Census Bureau to be 32,522. Riviera Beach is home to the Port of Palm Beach, a United States Coast Guard station and a municipal marina which is central to the redevelopment effort.

Brown plans to organize the new CRA Plan into a cohesive redevelopment strategy based on geography and has pledged to execute the plan in a transparent work environment based on priorities established by the Board of Commissioners. 

For more information contact the Riviera Beach CRA at

Riviera Beach, Florida


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Brown Launches Community Development Financing Firm

Strategic Partnership with Essential Capital Announced

Jacksonville, FL – Tony Brown, former Bank of America banker, announced the launch of his new national consulting firm, T. Brown Consulting Group, LLC (TBCG), with the completion of $300 million in New Markets Tax Credit (NMTCs) applications for two leading community development entities. TBCG will be headquartered in Jacksonville and will partner with Essential Capital Finance on NMTCs and community lending initiatives.

Tony gained a national reputation for excellence in the field of community development when, as Director of the CDFI Fund, he led the implementation of the federal NMTC program and directed its initial allocation of $6 billion in tax credit authority. He most recently led a $400 million redevelopment initiative in his hometown of Cincinnati and announced plans to relocate to Florida at the end of his contract term. “We are pleased to attract the caliber of talent and experience that Tony brings to community development lending,” commented Cleve Warren, president & CEO of Essential Capital. “Tony will bring an element of community development knowledge sorely needed in Jacksonville and will help our organization grow as a leading community development financial institution.”

The American Bankers Association (ABA) and The Kroger Co. selected TBCG to lead their development of private equity funds leveraging New Markets Tax Credits. ABA’s effort leverages NMTCs with loans from community banks to create loan pools that will be used to make loans at below market rates with flexible underwriting terms to small businesses, not-for profit organizations and government entities in order to create jobs in low income communities. ABA’s initial offering will also be $150 million and Jacksonville is targeted for a $50 million investment. Essential Capital will provide origination services to ABA should it be successful in its NMTC application. The NMTC program permits individual and corporate taxpayers to receive a credit against federal income taxes for making qualified equity investments in investment vehicles known as Community Development Entities (CDEs). The CDE uses the equity proceeds to make qualified low-income community investments in the form of loans, equity investments or financial counseling and other services provided to low-income community businesses. The application period for the current round of NMTC allocations ended June 2, 2010 and announcements are expected to be made by December.

T. Brown Consulting Group designs community development financing strategies and manages private equity products using the NMTC Program to help organizations devise capital solutions for real estate and small business initiatives across the country. For more information or to contact TBCG, visit their website at

Essential Capital Finance, Inc. is a local Certified Development Company (CDC), authorized by the U.S. Small Business Administration (“SBA”) to make commercial loans to small businesses for capital improvements and fixed asset acquisitions under the SBA 504 program. ECFI also has an application pending to be certified by the U.S. Department of Treasury’s CDFI Fund as a Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI). For more information or to contact ECFI, visit their website at

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