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.
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