Hallandale Beach Blog - A common sense public policy overview offering a critical perspective on the current events, politics, govt., public policy, sports scene and pop culture of the U.S., South Florida and Europe, especially the UK and Sweden.
In particular, Broward & Miami-Dade County, and the cities of Hallandale Beach, Hollywood & Aventura. Trust me when I tell you, this part of Florida is NOT the Land of Lincoln. Photo in upper-left is Hallandale Beach's iconic beachball-colored Water Tower on State Road A1A, September 2008; March 2018 photo below of North Beach, looking left-to-right, looking north, HYDE Condominium, Etaru Japanese Robatayaki restaurant, and Hollywood Beach in the distance, with umbrellas. All photos by me, © Hallandale Beach Blog, All Rights Reserved.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Bob Norman connects Steve Geller dots on Park Vue deal backed by Cornerstone Group that leaves Hallandale Beach taxpayers perplexed

It would seem pretty self-evident after reading Bob Norman's very good piece from the current New Times -link at bottom- that we all NOW know a lot more about the machinations behind the property at 601 Old Federal Highway that I referenced in my April 8th blog post, right next to the U.S. Post Office on Old Federal Highway, just south of the Hallandale Beach Municipal Complex.

Sadly, we know even more than we want to about the City of Hallandale Beach's ability -or inability- to make a good deal on behalf of its current citizens and taxpayers -or its future ones.
If you're curious to see drawings and depictions of what the Park Vue "lifestyle" was all cracked up to be, complete with fanciful depiction and floor plans, see:

FYI: Miami Beach-based Kobi Karp Architecture & Interior Design Inc. was the architect.

If you didn't already know, the Cornerstone Group is also the developer behind the project in the City of Hollywood that has generated so much attention, animosity and controversy over the past few years, Hollywood Station,

(Hey Commissioner Blattner, considering you spent so much time and effort defending this place based on transportation and mass transit grounds -which I usually support- I think you ought to know, if you didn't already, that their corporate website for Hollywood Station doesn't specifically use the word "transit" or "transportation" even once. Hmmm... I thought that was supposed to be one of its selling points, even in car-crazy South Florida?)
Cornerstone is also behind the La Perla project in Sunny Isles Beach, the area I knew so well as a kid. http://www.laperlamiami.com/english/index.html

I can't help but think that it all went downhill when the Castaways Wreck Bar went buh-bye!

As it happens, in March of 2005, the Herald referred to the Park Vue project in Hallandale Beach -and re-ran the same story on December 31st, 2006- in one of those occasional pieces they have a penchant for running on South Florida towns and communities.
Sort of "Up-close and personal" if you will.

Except more often than not, they seem to focus almost exclusively on these places in strictly real estate terms and not ever mention whether or not the individual city government's are maintaining a good quality-of-life or are actually efficient, responsive or transparent in their dealings with citizens.

Of course, back then, in more innocent times, real estate speculators waiting overnight in line to place deposits were referred to in local Miami TV newscasts as families investing in their futures, not folks threatening the integrity of the American housing system, who'd be demanding that someone rescue them from their lack of financial acumen.

So let's jump aboard the Hallandale Beach Blog Time Machine and go back to 2005 for a few minutes, back when it hadn't yet been scientifically proven that Nick Saban was The Devil Himself.
How could we not see it, when the signs were all around us?!!!


Miami Herald
By Diana Moskovitz
August 17, 2005

The future of one of Hallandale Beach's major redevelopment projects, 13 stories overlooking Gulfstream Park, appears to be dead, but city leaders and developer Cornerstone Premier Communities disagree on who is at fault.

But buyers at Park Vue Residences should be getting their money back, plus 10 percent.

They also will get a shot at lofts in another Cornerstone project, Hollywood Station in downtown Hollywood, said Richard Lamondin, president of Cornerstone.

"There was no conspiracy. No anything. We just had to make a business decision,'' Lamondin said.

Delays from the city and additional fees made the project "outrageously costly,'' to the point it would not be feasible to build, Lamondin said.

But a letter sent to buyers outraged city leaders, who felt it unfairly singled them out as the sole cause for the project's apparent demise.

"I don't like the city to have to take the responsibility on its own,'' said City Manager Mike Good."

I would expect more from a developer,'' Good said.

Good and several commissioners said they got calls from buyers wondering why the city was holding up the condos.

The plan for Park Vue had been for 147 units.
About 128 had been sold, Lamondin said.

The company initially sent letters to buyers telling them it was delayed, then, that it "probably'' would be canceled.
About 90 percent have agreed to the refund, Lamondin said.

Problems started when the developer changed the project from work-force housing to high-end units, Good said.
As the project changed, the city altered its demands. "This project will not be anywhere near work-force housing,'' Good said.

Two years ago, the city agreed to a project called the Aquamarina Condominiums, one-to-three-bedroom apartments starting at $130,000.

Commissioners saw the project as affordable homes near the city's center and one of Hallandale Beach's major employers - Gulfstream.

But the owners sold the project to Cornerstone, which transformed the project into Park Vue with one-, two- and three-bedroom residences priced from the low $200,000s to the mid-$300,000s.

Since the agreement has expired, Lamondin said Cornerstone probably will withdraw its application.

It has not decided whether to sell the land or try another project, Lamondin said.

Good said the rest of the city's redevelopment projects are moving ahead as scheduled, including massive renovations to Gulfstream.

In other action Tuesday, commissioners:

* Silenced one of their biggest critics, voting 5-0 to end their public access channel, probably taking the channel's two shows with it. One show was by former Mayor Arthur "Sonny'' Rosenberg, who used his show as a platform to criticize city leaders, especially Mayor Joy Cooper.

* Voted to give final approval to a proposal effectively banning sexual offenders from moving to the city. The rule says no sexual offender can live within 2,500 feet of any school with students younger than 18, school bus stops, day-care centers and public parks and playgrounds.
excerpted from South Florida Sun-Sentinel of April 4, 2005

Coral Gables-based Cornerstone Premier Communities LLC has announced plans to build Park Vue Residences, a 144-unit condominium at 601 Old Federal Highway in Hallandale Beach. Construction will begin in April, with completion scheduled for the fall of 2006.
Miami Herald
By Ana Rhodes, Special to The HeraldMarch 19, 2005

Today's Hallandale Beach is one of Broward's latest boom towns, with young professionals, families and international investors clamoring for new oceanfront condos.

With Sunny Isles Beach and Aventura built out, buyers are spilling across the Broward County line, where they can still find a beachfront condominium in one of the older buildings for $300,000.

"Everything's being grabbed up as soon as it comes on the market,'' said Abe Lenkov, an agent with DeRosa Realty in Hallandale Beach.

The buyers are coming from South America, Canada, and increasingly, Russia.
And they're coming from the suburbs of West Broward, where buyers are tired of the long commute east.

The new development comes after a long hiatus in Hallandale Beach, whose last growth spurt came in the 1970s. After that, city leaders felt overwhelmed and put the brakes on construction.
Until recently, there were few new condominiums or real growth.

"There comes a point where you wind up choking yourself, and the city started depreciating in the last 10 years, going down hill. People weren't investing,'' Assistant City Manager Charity Good said.

Now a new, younger City Commission is pushing to change the city's image and sees new development as a tool for rejuvenation.

Three new high-rise condos are on the horizon.
The first tower of the Beach Club at State Road A1A and Hallandale Beach Boulevard has been built. When the $400 million project's other two towers are ready, the Beach Club will have more than 1,200 units.

All three towers will be built more than 40 stories tall on South Ocean Drive.

Two-bedroom condos sell for $700,00 to $895,000, still much less than similar places in South Beach or Fort Lauderdale.

The Duo, a $70 million project with two high-rise towers holding 400 units, is being built behind the newly renovated Diplomat Mall. That is expected to open in about a year.

The 28-story Ocean Marine Yacht Club, to be built on the Intracoastal Waterway, will add another 283 units.

Many of those buyers are professionals in their 30s and 40s, some of them families with children.
Ninety percent of buyers at the Duo and most at the Beach Club are younger than 55.

"We've got a lot of younger people coming into these condos. We're not a sleepy little retirement community. We're coming into our own,'' said Kathi DeRosa, who owns DeRosa Realty in Hallandale Beach. "We're walking distance to the beach and now we've got the Diplomat Mall. What more could you want?''

DeRosa said the Diplomat, renovated and renamed RK Diplomat Center with a Starbucks, two Italian restaurants, a Quizno's and some yogurt and ice cream shops, is a draw for young people.
The new developments also are attracting international investors.

"We have a lot of investors from Canada. I had one Canadian gentleman buy five units at The Duo,'' said Abe Lenkov, an agent at DeRosa Realty.
"There's a lot of Russians also.''

Gulfstream Park Development is looking into taking 80 acres of its property at the horse track for mixed use, with 1,500 residential units (possibly town homes), 600,000 square feet of retail space, and a 30-screen movie theater.

Gulfstream also is expecting a big boost from the arrival of slot machines, approved by voters earlier this month.

Mayor Joy Cooper said it will be a huge boost to tourism and property values in Hallandale Beach.

"Jobs alone will be so beneficial,'' Cooper said. "It's a myth that it brings crime. Blighted areas don't have jobs for residents, so bringing in jobs would actually help fight crime by putting people to work.''

The southwest and northwest parts of the city, traditionally ignored by investors, are seeing a resurgence as well.

In the southwest, many are rebuilding homes.

In the northwest, many homeowners are taking advantage of loans from the Community Redevelopment Agency. Single-family homeowners can borrow up to $6,500 to fix up their houses and only pay back half of it - at 2 percent interest. Many have painted their homes and put in new driveways.

"In the northeast section, I'm going to say you go down east of Eighth Avenue and you will see the effects of that program,'' said Frank Durkin, code compliance and redevelopment administrator for the city.

Durkin said the base property values in the area have almost doubled, from $340 million in 1996, when the CRA was started, to $680 million in 2004. The money from the increase goes directly back to the area.

Developers are taking notice of the northwest and its need for affordable housing.

Miami-based Cornerstone Development has broken ground on Harbor Cove, a $20 million complex of four buildings containing 212 units off Ninth Court and Hallandale Beach Boulevard east of Interstate 95.

Cornerstone also is building Park Vue, a 13-story project with 147 units, just off U.S. 1 west of Gulfstream Park. Those units, selling for $250,000 to $400,000, appeal to single professional people or young couples tired of long commutes from out west.
That project should be ready in September 2006.

All this development will add as many as 3,000 units - and up to 10,000 new residents - by the end of 2006, bringing more traffic to an area that is already gridlocked.
Many of the old condominiums, for example, typically had one parking space for each unit, as retirees and snowbirds rarely needed more than that. But now couples with double incomes and two cars are moving in full time.

The stretch of Hallandale Beach Boulevard east of U.S. 1 - where The Duo and The Beach Club are being built - is busiest, with 48,500 cars a day and little room for expansion.

"Traffic has increased at a frightening rate,'' said Armin Lovenvirth, who lives at the Towers of Ocean View. "The City Commission will have to have real foresight to make the right changes.''

Cooper said work will begin in April on Hallandale Beach Boulevard, to include new medians and synchronized lights to help traffic flow. Other options to ease traffic are being considered.

Vice Mayor William Julian said the city might want to slow down again after 2006 or 2007, when many of the new projects will be done.

"We don't want to infringe on people that already live here,'' he said.

"We might decide we don't want to have any more growth for quite some time until we have more public transportation,'' he said.

Transit guru William Julian, please report to the principal's office!

That's funny, last week at the HB City Commission meeting, William Julian spoke out sarcastically and often against the Broward County Charter Review Commission's myriad proposals.

That included one offering Broward citizens the right to vote in November on a Metropolitan Transportation Authority that would be required to be more responsive to resident and rider concerns by sheer virtue of the composition of its members and their affiliations.
No more bureaucrats, lawyers and lobbyists making ALL the decisions.

Real citizen input and decision-making by people who actually use the system and know how bad it really is.
As was expressed loudly and often at the Broward County Transit Forum in October that I attended.

I should know -I was one of the persons with a microphone complaining about the county's dismal performance and general inability to adapt, accept constructive criticism and stop letting the bureaucracy decide everything, instead of the actual customers.

At a certain point, you'd think that a tiny town like Hallandale Beach would have the common sense to recognize that getting behind such an engaged advisory panel would be smart politics and good self-preservation, since under the present arrangement, Hallandale Beach seems permanently condemned to eating at the little kids table, not even eating with the cool teenagers.

Meanwhile Ft. Lauderdale, Pembroke Pines, Hollywood, Weston, Miramar and Cooper City sit at the adults' table and make all the decisions.

You know, in the same way that NONE of the 19 members of the county-wide CRC hailed from Hallandale Beach.
You think that's just a coincidence?

Facts are funny that way.

Having a commuter train along the FEC tracks could revitalize this city more dramatically, per capita, than it could any other Broward city along the line.
Hallandale Beach's City Hall gives lip service to being concerned about transportation, but when push comes to shove, juvenile ignorance and arrogance rule the day, and another sign goes forth that the city's only kidding about being pro-active and finally growing-up.

At the all-day City Commission forum last month at the Cultural Center, I twice took the microphone in hand to express my concerns about the direction of the city and to point out some areas that were sorely in need of improvement.
Honestly, it's not like I'm the only one who noticed.

The second time I did so came during the discussion of the city's months overdue transportation plan, and I specifically asked why it was that when the SFECC was having town meetings in this area in 2006 and 2007, they held them in Hollywood and Aventura -both of which I attended- but Hallandale Beach got shut out, despite the fact that the City Hall Chambers and Cultural Center are more than large enough to have handled the sort of crowds that have attended the meetings.

(Again, I would know, since I've actually gone to the SFECC meetings. FYI: I never saw an elected official from Hallandale Beach at either meeting I attended.)

I asked why the city couldn't, for a change, be pro-active and just call them up and ask to host a meeting, instead of simply waiting to be asked, always the bridesmaid.
And what I said resonated with most of the public who was there, since even Mike Good was forced to nod in agreement to the simple logic of my proposal.

But a few weeks later, when his staff prepares information for the commission, they actually recommend voting no on the MTA proposal.
And the ill-informed City Commission shows it clearly never read the Minutes of the CRC meetings outlining the goals and structure of the MTA, by virtue of its own comments last Wednesday, votes no.

So I show up as individual to speak in favor of the MTA proposal, and what do you know, Hallandale Beach Manager of Intergovernmental Affairs Franklin Hileman gets dispatched to represent Mike Good -because of an "emergency"- and tell the CRC that HB says "no thanks."

That's right, the only person from the public at the meeting speaking against the proposal was the representative from the Hallandale Beach City Manager's office, on behalf of a town that everyone in South Florida already thinks is a basket case and rolls their eyes at.

Now that's a bad PR hit!

You know, at first, when you first get into line, the kid rolling on the ground at the Aventura Target store screaming his lungs out and throwing a tantrum for whatever reason can be sort of funny, as long as it's not in your aisle.
You might even cringe a bit for the parents, perhaps.

But after you've been waiting in line for five minutes for the very slow cashier to get to you, that sound of the screaming kid isn't quite so funny, is it?
No, it's just sort of embarrassing.

Well, meet Hallandale Beach in the year 2008, the screaming kid that can't quite let logic and reason rule the day.
It has to throw the predictable tantrum.

I'll have a future post that will detail some of the possible consequences of the appalling votes against the CRC propsals from that City Commission meeting last week, and the CRC meeting I attended days ago up on Andrews Avenue, where Mayor Joy Cooper, Fire Chief Daniel Sullivan and Franklin Hileman were HB's motley triumverate.

I sat in the middle section of the chambers while they were a few rows behind me in a different section, but I just ignored them, since they were clearly speaking for somebody else and NOT for Hallandale Beach's citizen's, whom, I'm pretty sure, would like to decide what and how they vote in November for themself, and don't need Mayor Joy Cooper's obvious Broward League of Cities bias or William Julian's absurd antics and clowning to guide them.
You know, the will of the people.

Meanwhile, getting back to Bob Norman, as of Thursday afternoon when I drove by it, the 601 Old Federal Highway address sports nothing but some "No dumping" signs.
Come for the traffic, but stay for the dumping!

By the way, according to the city, that road between the Post Office and HB City Hall, S.E. 6th Street, belongs to the U.S. Post Office.

Hmmm... maybe that explains why it took MONTHS for the STOP sign at Old Federal Highway and S.E. 6th Street, only a few feet away from the Hallandale Beach Police Dept.'s parking lot, to be put back in its small hole after Hurricane Wilma.

Postal efficiency meets Hallandale Beach government apathy and red-tape to form a devastating combination!


Miami NewTimes
Wait, Let Me Change Hats
Senator Geller does costly deals but shuns the L word.
By Bob Norman
Published: April 10, 2008

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#HollywoodFL based photographer/entrepreneur Esther Chuang

#HOLLYWOODFL based photographer and entrepreneur Esther Chuang with Hollywood Mayor-elect Josh Levy
Thumbs up! What a night! #HOLLYWOODFL based photographer and entrepreneur Esther Chuang with a very elated Hollywood Mayor-elect Josh Levy at his Victory Party, held at Leo Anato's Atelier3/AT3 on Harrison Street & S. 19th Avenue, Hollywood. AT3's great environment and the amazing variety of food prepared by chef Kevin Dreifuss, former owner/chef of now-closed ENDS MEAT restaurant, was SUPERB! November 8, 2016 Esther Chuang, Morro Dois Irmãos, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, 2015
Above, perhaps my most-favorite photo ever of Esther, which is really saying something considering the THOUSANDS that I've actually seen of her, from all over the world. But despite the fact that you can't actually see it here, trust me, her amazing smile and inner and external beauty are there. This photo is an even more amazing achievement when you know the backstory of what it took for Esther to get to the top of the mountain, since it's NOT for the faint of heart. Next time you see her, ask her about that! Morro Dois Irmãos, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on her birthday, July 10, 2015. That's the Christ The Redeemer statue atop Mount Corcovado way out in the horizon on the top of another mountain, to the left of her head. To the right is the world famous beach of Ipanema and to the left is the equally famous beach of Copacabana. In case you forgot what the Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio looks like, up close, plus the Amazon area of Brazil that Esther grew up near in Manaus, here's another Brazilian beauty to connect-the-dots for you: Gisele Bündchen, aka @Gisele.

Abençoado por Deus e bonito por natureza!✨ ������

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A floresta Amazônica tem um papel fundamental no equilíbrio do clima na Terra e, portanto, na vida de cada um de nós. Nos últimos anos a proteção diminuiu e o desmatamento aumentou drasticamente. E o que já era ruim, pode ficar ainda pior. Se as medidas que o governo vem tomando não forem vetadas, nosso futuro estará ameaçado. Diga NÃO à diminuição da proteção da Floresta do Jamanxim! Diga NÃO à exploração de minério no coração da floresta! #TodosPelaAmazônia #342Amazonia #TodosPelaAmazonia Assine a petição: link na bio. ������✨���� The Amazon Rainforest plays a key role in balancing the climate on the Earth and therefore in each of our lives. In recent years, protection has decreased and deforestation has increased sharply. And what was already bad can get even worse. If the measures that the government has been taking are not vetoed, our future will be threatened. Say NO to the reduction of the Jamanxim Forest´s protection! Say NO to ore mining in the heart of the Forest! #togetherfortheAmazon

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