Developer Samuel & Associates broke ground on the 50,000-square-foot complex, called 4th & 5th Delray, that will house the iPic theater and office space at Fourth and Fifth avenues a block south of Atlantic Avenue.
The theater is expected to accommodate eight screens and 528 seats total. And Boca Raton-based iPic Entertainment will relocate its corporate headquarters to the complex, which will have 42,000 square feet of office and 8,000 square feet of retail.
The complex also will have a six-level, 326-space garage and a rooftop garden open to the public.
City leaders and residents pushed back against the plans arguing the complex was too big for one of downtown’s busiest intersection. But three years of negotiations led to its eventual approval.
The contract with iPic gave the city’s Community Redevelopment Agency, which sold the land to iPic in 2013, the right to buy back the land if the developer didn’t break ground within a year of approval.
Some city leaders doubted that the developer could beat that deadline
“4th & 5th Delray will be a destination in its own right as the thriving commercial district along Atlantic Avenue continues to expand,” Hamid Hashemi, founder and CEO of iPic Entertainment, said in a news release.
DELRAY BEACH — The city commission on Tuesday narrowly agreed to maintain an independent anti-blight taxing district that oversees areas that include the city’s downtown and Atlantic Avenue.
The Community Redevelopment Agency, a seven-member board appointed by the city, was established in 1985 to revitalize 20 percent of the city east of Interstate 95 between Lake Ida Road and Southwest 10th Street.
The city commission considered absorbing the independent board, which had a $17.5 million budget last year, and assuming the roles of CRA board members, similar to how the taxing districts are run in neighboring Boynton Beach and Boca Raton.
But a packed and passionate room of residents – both for and against the dissolution of the CRA – at Tuesday’s city meeting swayed the commission to vote down the proposal to absorb the special taxing district, with Commissioners Mitch Katz and Shelly Petrolia voting in favor of it.
“There’s not one opportunity you don’t have to make sure that the CRA, as an independent body, will not be held accountable,” resident Chuck Ridley said of the commission-appointed board.
Ridley pointed to a scathing Miami-Dade County grand jury report released in February 2016 that criticized cities in which CRA boards members are also elected officials.
“We discovered several examples of CRA boards spending large amounts of taxpayer dollars on what appeared to be pet projects of the elected officials,” the grand jury report reads.
While the report doesn’t provide specific examples, it points to Delray Beach’s independent CRA board as an example of how anti-blight taxing districts should be run.
Many of the CRA’s supporters pointed to the successes of the agency, including the revitalization of East Atlantic Avenue over the past three decades, the Pineapple Grove main street development and the relocation of the public library.
Some residents suggested replacing individual CRA board members, rather than abolishing the independent body.
“We have a model here that really can be worked with,” said resident Christina Morrison.
Others suggested city officials were better equipped to handle CRA duties.
“The projects that are now coming to the CRA are more and more complex … yet the CRA doesn’t have the advantage of a full city staff to provide research,” said resident Carolyn Patton.
Said resident Alan Schlossberg: “This reality will eliminate the constant need to oversee and correct the many problem created by the CRA.”
Several resident of the Northwest/Southwest neighborhoods west of Swinton Avenue, many of whom supported the retention of an independent CRA, chastised the attempt to dissolve the CRA just as it plans to prioritize areas of west of Swinton Avenue.
“But that carrot has been dangling out there from my perspective for way too long,” said Commissioner Petrolia, criticizing the delay of anti-blight efforts on West Atlantic Avenue. “This has been a promise that has been promised for a decade.”
Reggie Cox, the chairman of the CRA, said the problem was a “lack of communication” between the board and commission.
Mayor Cary Glickstein also pointed to improving communication as a better option.
Said Glickstein: “We can fix this through better communication and more accountability.”
DELRAY BEACH — Six candidates, none of them incumbents, are running for two vacant seats on the city commission that will soon be responsible for approving or denying major developments, curbing the rapid growth of the sober home industry and hiring high-level city staff.
Seats 2 and 4 on Delray Beach’s commission, both at-large seats rather than by district, are up for grabs in the March 14 municipal election. Four residents have applied for Seat 2, vacated by Al Jacquet after he won a state House seat in November; two have applied for Seat 2, while current Vice-Mayor Jordana Jarjura dropped her bid for reelection.
The makeup of the commission could change the outcome of debated developments that will up for approval following the election, including the $200 million Atlantic Crossings project planned at Federal Highway and Atlantic Avenue and the Swinton Commons proposal planned in the historic district along Swinton Avenue just south of Atlantic Avenue.
Occupation: Creator of TakeBackDelrayBeach, an issue oriented Facebook page with 6700 readers, avid volunteer, former small business owner 15-plus years (art gallery)
How long have you lived in Delray Beach? Nearly six years.
Have you held elected office before? If so, when and which position(s)? “No, but I have been an active participant in several Delray Beach city commission campaigns.”
Delray Beach boards/committees you’ve served on: Board member of Delray Beach Historic Preservation Trust; Board member of Sandoway Discovery Center
Previous bids for elected office: None.
Three goals should you be elected:
1. Finalizing the new ordinances for sober homes and ensuring rigorous enforcement
2. Streamline our city’s development approval process
3. Address infrastructure repairs and safety issues in neighborhoods.
“Projects can take years to go through our city’s approval process. We need to limit extensions and take the politics out of this process by sticking to our land development regulations. There are numerous advisory and ancillary boards that could possibly be combined for more efficiency. However, public input must not be minimized. Many neighborhoods are waiting for repairs and upgrades – from new seawalls in the Marina Historic District to sidewalks and streetlights in the NW/SW – these items must be addressed. There is an increase in crime – mostly car and home break-ins – more of a police presence may be required in some areas.”
Name: Anneze Barthelemy, MSW
Personal occupation: Social worker and chaplain
How long have you lived in Delray Beach? Twelve years.
Have you held elected office before? If so, when and which position(s)? None
Delray Beach boards/committees you’ve served on: None
Previous bids for elected office: None
Three goals should you be elected:
Safety: “We have a great police chief. He is very optimistic and cares very much for all of the residents in Delray Beach. We have great police officers and we want to keep those officers and ensure that their salaries are comparable to other cities. We don’t want to lose our police officers, because of pay, after investing in them and giving them the best training. Guarding our city is a very stressful job and we want make sure that our officers are content and rewarded for their hard work. A safe city with low crime rate will attract more visitors, which will boost our economy.”
Sober homes: “I will work hard to bring solutions to the sober home issue. We want to create the best solutions for those struggling with addictions. New ordinances are necessary to ensure that the tenants in those homes receive proper treatment and we want to make sure that their rights are not being violated. The owners must be held accountable and we need to have a system in place where we can monitor the effectiveness and successes of these homes. I will advocate and encourage our residents to advocate in Tallahassee for Bills that will help our city to decrease the amount of Sober homes in Delray Beach.
Youth services: “We need to invest more in services for our youths in order to prevent delinquency, drug use and gang involvement. We want to ensure that our youths receive the mentoring necessary in order for them to excel in their education. We want to make sure that our youths are graduating from high school and ready for college. I will closely work with Palm Beach County school board and ensuring are graduating seniors are ready for college.”
Name: Jim Chard
Personal occupation: Retired business executive. Also served as administrator in city government
How long have you lived in Delray Beach? Nearly 15 years
Have you held elected office before? No
Delray Beach boards/committees you’ve served on: Congress Avenue Task Force as member and author of portions of the report; Comprehensive Plan Rewrite, vice chair; Site Planning Review and Appearance Board (SPRAB), vice chair; Chamber of Commerce, board member
Previous bids for elected office: None
Three goals should you be elected:
Bring sober home catastrophe under control through carefully designed programs, local law changes, coordination with State officials and neighboring communities and enhanced law enforcement.
Aggressively pursue implementation of projects to rebuild crumbling roads, water and sewer pipes, and sea walls, including a bond flotation to begin funding a backlog of $250 million dollars of deferred maintenance.
Enact changes to Comprehensive Plan, zoning, and ordinances to make Delray an entrepreneurial hub, a job engine, and a place our children want to come back to in order to launch their careers.
Richard Alteus, also running for Seat 2, did not respond to multiple requests for comment.
Name: Josh Smith
Personal occupation: Retired educator
How long have you lived in Delray Beach? 51 years
Have you held elected office before? No
Delray Beach boards/committees you’ve served on: Code Enforcement Board
Previous bids for elected office: Delray Beach City Commission Seat 3, 2014 (lost)
Three goals should you be elected:
To select an effective city manager
To carefully monitor legislation being crafted (for sober homes), similar to legislation in Arizona that withstood legal challenges
To strongly support and encourage development in geographic areas with of the city with little and no development (along West Atlantic Avenue and the Congress Corridor)
Shirley Johnson, also running for Seat 4, did not respond to the questions posed.
DELRAY BEACH — The five-year battle between the developers of a $200 million mixed-use complex in the heart of Delray Beach’s downtown and city leaders continues after the city commission unanimously agreed to postpone approval of the development on Tuesday.
Since 2015, the city has been embroiled in a lawsuit filed by Edwards Cos., the Ohio-based developers of Atlantic Crossings, a 9-acre office-retail-residential complex planned at the northeast corner of Federal Highway and Atlantic Avenue.
The city was poised to settle the lawsuit on Tuesday, but delayed the decision until its leaders can get more information and possibly a better deal from the developers.
City commissioners raised concerns about the development — which has been contentiously debated since it was first proposed in 2011 — namely the lack of traffic-relief efforts in nearby neighborhoods and a $500,000 contribution toward adjacent Veterans Park promised by Edwards Cos. in 2014.
Neither of those elements made it into the settlement agreement, although they have been discussed and pledged in the past, city officials said.
“We don’t know what we’ve got,” said Mayor Cary Glickstein.
The Veterans Park pledge, which would have helped fund a city-sought park revamp, helped sway dissenting residents to favor the Atlantic Crossings project, said Deputy Vice-Mayor Mitch Katz.
“Essentially that park is going to be an amenity to that project,” Katz said.
The developers agreed, after a requests from the city and several residents, to build a two-way road from Federal Highway east to Northeast Seventh Avenue into the Atlantic Crossings complex as a traffic-calming measure.
The lawsuit settlement should have been a “no brainer,” Commissioner Shelly Petrolia said.
“Now that we’re finding out there are quite a few (things) that are not going to be included, I would prefer to at least have some conversations to find out where we were, where we are and what’s missing,” Petrolia said.
City attorney Max Lohman said the developers want to move quickly and it isn’t clear how delays might affect the settlement agreement.
Edwards Cos. is “just going to wait for the city,” Chief Operations Officer Dean Kissos said following the meeting, He declined to comment further.
Edwards Cos. has accused the city of deliberately stalling the approved development, costing the company $40 million in federal and Palm Beach County Circuit lawsuits. The federal lawsuit was dismissed in July.
The proposed settlement, signed by Edwards Cos. and recommended by city staff, would allow Edwards Cos. to move forward with building the complex. It would include 82 luxury condos, 261 apartments, 83,000-square-feet of office space and 76,000-square-feet of shops and restaurants in six three or four-story buildings, according to Edwards Cos.
DELRAY BEACH — Have something you really want to tell a city leader about upcoming projects or programming in Delray Beach?
Deputy Vice-Mayor Mitch Katz is lending his ear at an informal gathering at Saltwater Brewery on Wednesday, Jan. 11. Katz invites community members to join him for a drink and friendly feedback about the state of Delray Beach.
He’ll be at the brewery between 6-8 p.m. for the open event.
Katz plans to facilitate more informal conversations with residents with planned gatherings throughout the year, according to a city email.
For more details on the event, call the city manager’s office at (561) 243-7010.
What:An Evening with Deputy Vice-Mayor Mitch Katz
Where:Saltwater Brewery, at 1701 W. Atlantic Ave., Delray Beach, FL 33444
Several members of the southwest/northwest neighborhoods, made up of largely African-American and Caribbean residents, spoke at a city meeting Tuesday to urge the commission to appoint a temporary city commissioner after they failed to do so in the past two meetings.
They learned late Tuesday that the city’s charter bars the commission from taking action after two meetings.
The seat was vacated by former Vice Mayor Al Jacquet, a Haitian-American and the only black representative on the commission. The mayor and three commissioners that remain were tasked with temporarily filling the seat, but were torn between two black candidates: Yvonne Odom and Josh Smith, both community activists and educators.
“We should not be without black representation on this board,” Angeleta Gray, a former commissioner and community activist, said following Tuesday’s meeting. “We are all outraged. We feel like our voices are not being heard at all.”
During the meeting, Gray asked audience members to stand if they support Odom’s appointment. A majority — more than 20 people — rose, many of them donning yellow clothing, which has become a symbol of support for Odom in city meetings.
Several people spoke in favor of Odom’s appointment during public comment. None spoke in favor of Smith, who said following the meeting that the “silent majority” supports his appointment.
In a charged portion of the meeting, Mayor Cary Glickstein, who supports Odom’s appointment along with Commissioner Jordana Jarjura, said the opposition was focused solely on “politics , control and power.”
Glickstein and Jarjura suggested a third vote, which violates the city charter, according to Attorney R. Max Lohman. Commissioners Shelly Petrolia and Mitch Katz did not agree.
The commissioners all agreed there should be a black representative, which they have acknowledged at meetings, but cannot agree on who should serve.
The outcome has left several community members saying they are frustrated.
“It’s blatantly obvious that we’re not being listened to,” said Emanual Dupree Jackson Jr., a lifelong Delray Beach resident. “Leave your personal gripes out of this and realize this has to do with our having a voice.”
Hazel MacFarlene, another lifelong resident and local teacher, said politics and personal agendas were ultimately “undermining the black community.”
Gray said that black community would be “voiceless” should development proposals in the northwest/southwest neighborhoods arise in coming months.
“Our community does not want to be displaced,” she said.
The temporary commissioner would have only served in Seat 2 until the March 14 municipal election, when the seat is up for grabs. Smith has filed to run for Seat 4, against incumbent Jarjura, in the coming election.
There’s “no particular reason” he chose Seat 4 rather than Seat 2, he said following the meeting. Delray Beach’s commission seats are at large, not by districts.
Accusations about the political underpinnings of these decisions were leveled from city leaders and the public during the meeting. To understand this, you have to understand the past, many said following the meeting.
Smith admittedly distanced himself from city politics following the loss because he “felt like the community turned its back” on him, he said Tuesday. Several have criticized Smith for not being as involved as Odom in city meetings.
Smith isn’t looking to only represent the black community, he said Tuesday, but rather “look out for the interests of the entire community.”
Odom, who has never run for office and doesn’t intend to, volunteered to temporarily fill the commission seat to “leave politics out of it,” she said.
Odom has historically been very involved in race relations in Delray Beach. She and her husband, Eddie, founded the still-thriving Delray Beach American Little League team when the only little league baseball team in the city was all-white.
Odom was the only black student at former Seacrest High School during the first year of integration, she said.
“For my whole life, the black and white community in Delray Beach have always had a respect for one another because they are able to communicate,” she said.
The outcome of the meeting was disappointing, she said. But Odom encouraged the community to take their frustrations to polls in March.
“Our community will survive this,” she said. “They have survived much worse.”
Several African-American and Caribbean residents spoke at a city meeting Tuesday night to encourage the mayor and three commissioners to fill a seat on the city commission vacated by Al Jaquet, who won an open House District 88 seat in the general election and is Haitian.
“Please, do the right thing for my community,” said Angie Gray, a former Delray Beach commissioner. “This is the first time in a long time that we do not have representation.”
The temporary commissioner would have sat on the board until the March municipal elections.
More than a dozen residents coordinated and showed up in yellow clothing to support Odom’s appointment to the city commission. Several of them urged city leaders to appoint Odom as she best represented the “black community.”
None spoke in support of Smith.
“The community heard and saw the proceedings and as a result, the community has responded,” said Reggie Cox, of the West Atlantic Redevelopment Coalition, which represents the downtown communities west of Swinton Avenue.
Mayor Cary Glickstein and Commissioner Jordana Jarjura cast their votes out loud for Odom, and publicly condemned Commissioners Shelly Petrolia and Mitch Katz for not also doing so.
“The community is supporting a single candidate. They are entitled to voice their opinion and your job is to listen,” Glickstein told Katz during the meeting, followed by applause from the crowd.
Petrolia and Katz insisted they wouldn’t change their choice of Smith because they believe he is the best candidate to serve.
Katz pointed out that Glickstein and Jarjura’s husband donated to Smith’s campaign during his 2015 bid for city commission, which Smith lost to Katz.
Jarjura called the appointment “political” and said a candidate was “specifically asked to apply” by Petrolia.
“Unless you can tell me who I did this with, I think the discussion is over,” Petrolia fired back.
After nearly an hour of debate and deliberation, the members couldn’t agree. The city charter calls for special election if the city commission cannot agree on an appointment within 60 days of vacancy.
But the earliest a special election could reasonably be planned, through the Supervisor of Elections, is February, said Attorney Max Lohman. It would cost upwards of $75,000 to carry out and the temporary commissioner would sit for only one meeting.
It’s an “impossibility,” Lohman said, meaning the fifth commission seat will likely remain vacant until March.
DELRAY BEACH — The city commission was at an impasse Tuesday night when four members could not break a tie to temporarily fill a vacant commission seat.
Unless they can reach an agreement by December, the commission will likely remain short one person until March elections, said Max Lohman, city attorney.
At Tuesday’s meeting, the commissioners considered a list of 10 applicants to fill the seat vacated by Vice Mayor Al Jacquet, who resigned to run for an open House District 88 seat, which he won in the general election.
The temporary commissioner would serve until March, when an election will be held to fill the empty seat.
Both candidates are black, as is the former commissioner they aim to replace.
“I think it’s great that we both selected minorities to fill the position,” Glickstein said. “While there were very qualified candidates, the optics of an all-white commission in a town that is anything but … so I think that is a good thing.”
Glickstein and Deputy Vice Mayor Jordana Jarjura both voted for Odom. Commissioners Mitch Katz and Shelly Petrolia both voted for Smith.
“Ms. Odom has been a part of this community for a very long time … she has actually been in this chamber more than who she is seeking to succeed,” Glickstein said. Jacquet missed a handful of meeting while on the campaign trail for state House.
“He went through a campaign, has been out there talking to residents,” Katz said.
The vote was postponed until a December meeting. The city charter calls for special election if the city commission cannot agree on an appointment within 60 days of vacancy, Lohman said.
But a special election isn’t feasible in this case, he added.
The Supervisor of Elections is busy, between the recent elections in early November and upcoming elections in March. Short of the city holding its own election, which is costly, the commission is out of options, Lohman said.
“I’ve seen it happen before,” he said. “If it becomes impossible, it’s simply impossible.”
The City Clerk Department will accept applications, which should include a resume, letter of intent and questionnaire, beginning Sept. 1. The deadline to apply is Oct. 7.
The city commission will review the applications and consider an appointment at the Nov. 1 meeting. The appointment will take effect in March.
Applications should be emailed or sent to Chevelle D. Nubin, city clerk, at 100 NW 1st Avenue, Delray Beach, FL 33444. To download the questionnaire, click here. For more information, contact the City Clerk Department at (561) 243-7050.
Jacquet, a lawyer, is one of three Democrats vying in the Aug. 30 primary for the vacant House seat, which covers some of West Palm Beach, Riviera Beach and Lake Park as well as a thin coastal strip south to Delray Beach. He’s been a commissioner in Delray since 2012 and vice mayor since March.
The Downtown Delray Beach Drum Circle, a group of local drum and yoga enthusiasts who convene using events on Facebook, performed Tuesday evening at a commission meeting to share their music — and message — with the city.
About a dozen people opened the meeting by playing drums, maracas and other instruments while many danced along. This is the same group that meets at Old School Square every Wednesday to perform and encourages the public to participate.
The group recently struck a deal with the Delray Beach Parks and Recreation Department to perform at a different park one Saturday per month. They played at Veterans Park, at 802 NE 1st St, last Saturday.
“Our drum group has people from every single ethnicity and every single age group, from little, teeny people to people in their 80s and beyond,” said Michael Teller, a coordinating member of the group.
The group, which has been performing at Old School Square for more than four years, has drawn as many as 50 people to recent meetings. They plan to participate in a worldwide event Oct. 1 called “World’s Largest Drumming Circle,” Teller said.
People from different countries of the world perform in drum circles at the same time “to promote people getting along, peace and unity,” Teller said.
The city commission thanked the group for the performance and commended them on bringing music to the city’s downtown.
“What I like most about it is the way that the sound goes through the downtown and gets stronger and louder and softer depending on where you are,” said Mayor Cary Glickstein. “A lot of people don’t know where it’s coming from and it’s nice to hear.”