Pact for Ocean Mall area detailed tonight

By William Cooper Jr.
Palm Beach Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, October 11, 2006

RIVIERA BEACH Whether the Ocean Mall gets a $280 million makeover won't be known for another week, as developer Dan Catalfumo and the city's lead negotiator present details of an agreement tonight rather than seek the city's approval.

California consultant Bernard Kinsey said Tuesday the plan is to do a presentation of the agreement with Ocean Mall Redevelopment, which is led by Catalfumo, at tonight's Community Redevelopment Agency meeting. The meeting had been scheduled for the city council, sitting as the CRA board, to vote on he project. If approved, it would be the first major development in Riviera Beach's $2.4 billion waterfront redevelopment plan.

Both Kinsey and Catalfumo are moving cautiously, given some of the opposition toward the project. They want to give the council and the community plenty of time examine the project and discuss its details.

"It's not fair to the council to give them a couple of days to review and vote on a 250-page document when we've been working with this for three weeks," Kinsey said.

Joey Eichner, a senior vice president with Catalfumo Construction and Development, agreed.  Eichner said delaying the vote will also give them time to answer any of the public's questions. 
"We've learned there is a lot of misinformation out on the street," Eichner said. "We'll use this week to get the facts out on the table."

Eichner has asked that the council call a special CRA meeting next Wednesday before the regular city council meeting in order for the board to vote on the project.

Eichner used the example that residents are being told that the 28-story Marriott hotel/condo building is being built on the beach where the city's dune is now located. In fact, it will be constructed at the southwest corner of the city's parking lot, behind the Ocean Mall. 

Meanwhile, some Singer Island residents remain cool to the project. Last Friday, a committee, chaired by Singer Island's Dawn Pardo, began a petition-drive to have voters decide whether the city can lease its 11 acres of beach to Catalfumo for 99 years.

A week ago, the council voted 4-1 to change its city charter, extending its ability to lease the public beach from 50 to 99 years.  Some Singer Island residents say they believe the council doesn't have the legal authority to change the charter without going to referendum.

The committee has 30 days from last Wednesday's vote to gather 3,000 signatures of registered voters to have the issue placed on the ballot.

Since July, Kinsey, along with CRA Executive Director Floyd Johnson and City Manager Bill Wilkins, have been negotiating with Catalfumo's group. In 2005, the city thought it had a plan with another development team to redo the 33-year-old Ocean Mall, but residents balked after seeing it contained three 27-story time-share/hotel towers while providing little access to the public beach.

Catalfumo assembled another group that included Boca Raton developer Norton Herrick and the Marriott.

The project was scaled back to include only one 28-story hotel/condo building, ample access to the beach and redeveloping the dilapidated Ocean Mall into 60,000 square feet of shops and restaurants.