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. Pictured in upper-left is Hallandale Beach's iconic beachball-colored Water Tower on State Road A1A; September 2008 photo by me, South Beach Hoosier. © 2013 Hallandale Beach Blog, All Rights Reserved.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Part 1 of 2 re The Beachwalk project in Hallandale Beach -Initial comments & ruminations on Wednesday night's HB City Comm. meeting; calling out Carole Pumpian, crony capitalism mercenary

Above, my friend and fellow Hallandale Beach civic activist, Csaba Kulin, at a place that ought to be one of the city's crown jewels and a natural meeting place for the whole community -but isn't: the City of Hallandale Beach's very poorly-maintained North Beach park, with the iconic HB Water Tower and The Beach Club condo towers to his right. He's looking south with Hollywood Beach to his back, in particular, the construction site for The Related Group's 20-story condo project, The Apogee, which is actually in Hollywood. The longstanding rusty eyesores on the public beach that I've previously discussed -last week and many times before The Beachwalk project came on the scene- completely ruins any positive experience you could have, situated as they are right in the middle of the beach. As it happens, Csaba is running for HB City Commission this year precisely because of the longstanding public failure and incompetency of  HB City Hall on a whole host of public-policy matters, or to even acknowledge their role in that failure, of which this unappealing public beach is but one of several obvious examples. This is just the tip of the iceberg. When first-time visitors come to the public beach in Hallandale Beach, they often are left to wonder, "If they can find a way to really screw-up a beach, how bad must things be where nobody goes?" Exactly. So what ought to be a source of great civic pride for us is instead the place that is largely avoided when friends and family come to visit and want to be shown around, because it's so embarrassing and unappealing, Especially with Hollywood Beach and Johnson Street nearby. June 2, 2012 photo by South Beach Hoosier
Thought it was time to share my initial thoughts, ruminations and tangents on Wednesday night's Hallandale Beach City Commission meeting re The Beachwalk project, which lasted about four-and-a-half hours. 


This will likely be one of several posts on this topic over the next two weeks, until the next City Commission meeting on June 20th, so keep tuned here so you can know exactly what's going on.


Before I get into what I think, here's what's been written thus far since Wednesday, not all of which I necessarily agree are either 100% accurate fact-wise or context-wise, but it's what's out there for now:

Broward Bulldog
Hallandale gives thumbs up to condo king Jorge Perez’s $100 million, high-rise Beachwalk project
By William Gjebre, BrowardBulldog.org
June 7, 2012 AT 12:39 AM,

Miami Herald
Proposed hotel gets tentative approval in Hallandale Beach
Miami developer Jorge Pérez gained preliminary approval from the Hallandale Beach commission to build a more than $90 million project on the Intracoastal Waterway
By Carli Teproff
Posted June 7, 2012

South Florida Sun-Sentinel
Hallandale considers 31-story hotel/condo
By Tonya Alanez, Sun Sentinel
6:27 p.m. EDT, June 7, 2012

Just for the record, I remind anyone reading this who may not know: I'm in favor of the property being used as a hotel, and the reason for that could not be any clearer: we need another first-class hotel in this city to meet the demand that is currently using Hollywood hotels.
But I'm NOT in favor of the 84 condo units component that the developer is asking for now, which they are not legally entitled to build without the city's approval.

My own experience of living in Hallandale Beach for over eight years now, plus everything I know and have learned and read about human behavior and parking spaces, tells me that having that many condos located in that location, next to a bridge, on top of the hotel rooms in a 31-story building, will clearly exacerbate the area's already completely-inadequate parking situation, where it's not uncommon for some residents during "the Season" to have to park 3-4 blocks away at night.


Parking so far from where you live is, unfortunately, something I have experience with from the few months I lived in the popular and highly-educated Rogers Park area of Chicago, right off of Lake Michigan, in the mid-1980's. The neighborhood's #1 complaint was the perennial search for a parking spot at night that was not too far away -and lack of a visible police presence.

Despite what The Related Group says and has promised, I believe their current plan for a five-story garage with mandatory valet parking is still inadequate. 
If anything, their parking lot structure needs to be larger.

I also remain firmly OPPOSED to the idea of having the future of this city's invaluable resource,  the public beach -the North Beach park and the adjacent parking garage- coupled with the approval of this development project.


Doing that completely lets the city's elected officials and administrators off-the-hook for being so egregiously irresponsible and negligent for YEARS for not only what has been allowed to happen there, but also for what its actual future might be.
I'm not willing to turn that responsibility over to a third-party with no experience in doing that, especially for an initial period that is thirty years in length.

The present Hallandale Beach Mayor, Joy Cooper, the present City Commission as well as its predecessor, and the present and previous City Managers, have stood on the sidelines for YEARS and done nothing as the North Beach area has been allowed to become a regional running joke in SE Broward/NE Miami-Dade.


It's gotten demonstrably more physically run-down and dirty by the year, which is something that anyone who has spent any amount of time over there knows is true, much less, someone like me, who has been there hundreds of times over the past few years alone, as this blog has documented, with my camera and video-cam in-tow to accurately record the neglect.


I've recorded the decline alright, and unlike HB elected officials and Dept. heads who are actually responsible for the problem, I've actually spoken to other regular beach-goers and the Jeff Ellis lifeguards about what THEY thought about the beach's sad decline, what they've heard, and what they wanted to see in the way of improvements.


Let's be perfectly serious. 
HB City Manager Mark Antonio lives in North Miami Beach, not here.
He is never seen around here on weekends nor at the beach.
Given that, why would what he thinks actually matter to people who are there all the time, and who actually know a thing or two about its current declining state, especially given his own hand at letting that occur on his watch the past two years despite constantly hearing about how bad it was?
Even the mayor's pals who are in favor of the project and spoke that night, felt it necessary to say what a mess it had become.
That should tell you something!


June 2, 2012 photo of Hallandale Beach's North Beach, looking south from the The Apogee construction site, in Hollywood, by South Beach Hoosier


In my opinion, City Manager Antonio has actually been less-than-useless on this subject, and has actually become an actual obstacle and additional problem to deal with in resolving it, given his ostrich-like behavior and unwillingness to put pressure on the city's employees and engineers who work for him to get on top of things and actually hold them accountable.
Antonio has no reasonable explanation for why he has continually failed the citizens of this city on this crucial subject.


Trust me, in this city, you NEVER see this mayor, this city manager, the DPW manager and 4/5ths of the city commission over at the beach on weekends, not even for even an hour, even though it's an invaluable asset.
That studied avoidance explains a lot -it shows they didn't want to know.

And now, we're supposed to believe these same irresponsible people with power when they claim they're suddenly interested in the actual experience of beach-goers? No.
We're supposed to believe them when they say that if this project is approved as currently drawn-up, they'll put pressure on the developer in the future to fix things when they themselves were totally unresponsive to citizens about maintenance issues and aesthetics when THEY were in charge?
It's simply NOT believable.
NO SALE!


June 2, 2012 photo of Hallandale Beach's North Beach, looking east from Surf Road, late on an overcast afternoon, by South Beach Hoosier

I tried but failed to send many of you reading this a copy of the FLIP video I made of Related's attorney Debbie Orshefsky's presentation, but it was 34 minutes in length, too long to be sent under the FLIP parameters, which is about 15 minutes.
In retrospect, I should have stopped recording after about 15 minutes and then re-started, and then sent it in two or thee parts, but it didn't occur to me at the time.

I may download it to my computer and then re-edit it to put on YouTube soonbut I'm in no hurry to do that since that meeting was only the First of two Readings.
If I do, I'll let you know here on the blog beforehand.

My reason for wanting to send the video was simple  -to show you that I was 100% accurate when I mentioned to some of you during the break around 10:15 p.m. that in The Related Group's presentation, when they showed their rendering of how attractive they could make North Beach look, complete with fancy cushioned chairs -but what about the rest of us- they never showed the already-approved Beach One Resort project north of the HB Water Tower in the rendering.

Or, the under-construction The Apogeealso owned by The Related Group, just north of that.nstead, they waited 'till towards the very end when they showed the lineup of properties along the beach in HB and Hollywood from the ocean's perspective, and it was only then that you could see the distinctive sail design of what was then called Beach One Resort, and I'm pretty sure they showed The Apogee being much smaller than it is scheduled to be.

From where I sat in the Comm. Chambers, directly opposite the Power Point presentation,  they made it seem like The Apogee is short-and-squat; it's not
It's 20-stories.


Here are some 
renderings and posts of mine from four years ago re what was then called Beach One Resort, which has already been approved by the City of Hollywood to be 40 stories.
Reminder: I attended 95% of the meetings on this project in Hollywood, which has that iconic design which will be the southern entrance to Hollywood Beach :

Here's an update on what's going on with that project, which has largely been ignored by the news media:
http://therealdeal.com/miami/blog/2012/03/05/developer-of-40-story-waterfront-project-in-hollywood-beach-seeks-partner/


As for the clearly negative shade effects of these two towers -plus, The Beach Club towers- on HB's North Beach, you'll notice that nobody-but-nobody said anything about that!
Surprise!
Well, as long as you're at North Beach before 2 p.m., you'll get some sun, but after that, forget about it!

In my next post, the second of two on this subject, with many more sure to follow, I will be discussing this development proposal, the role of the Hallandale Beach Chamber of Commerce in it and share some interesting facts about it and its president Carole Pumpian

Those future posts will include questions never asked or answered Wednesday night that would have shed more light on some important facts about the project that local citizen taxpayers need to know about so they can see whether or not the City Commission is really looking out for YOUR best interests -or theirs.


The Second Reading is Wednesday June 20th at 6:30 p.m.



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