Riviera CRA board signs off on revised outline for Ocean Mall

By William Cooper Jr.
Palm Beach Post Staff Writer
Thursday, April 13, 2006

RIVIERA BEACH The aging Ocean Mall may soon fall to the wrecking ball and make room for a 28-story hotel, shops and restaurants, after the city's community redevelopment agency board approved the plan in concept Wednesday night.

The city council, sitting as the CRA board, voted 4-1, with Councilman Jim Jackson dissenting, to approve a revised plan by Ocean Mall Redevelopment to develop a hotel and condominiums and 60,000 square feet of shops and restaurants on 11 acres of public beachfront property. The decision is yet another step in the city's $2.4 billion waterfront redevelopment effort, which has been in the works for six years.

"I'm ready to start pouring concrete," said Dan Catalfumo, whose company, Catalfumo Construction and Development, is one of the developers in the group. "This is an exciting time."

Ocean Mall Redevelopment, a developer's dream team of sorts, consists of Catalfumo, Marriott Vacation Club International, developer Norton Herrick and Andrew Brock, whose family holds a 50-year lease on the Ocean Mall.

The group came together in the past year after Marriott's initial plan was met with criticism because residents thought the project was too large.

CRA Chairwoman Ann Iles called the revised plan a "good compromise," keeping public access to the city's beach and reducing the density to where a "village" feel can be maintained on Singer Island.

Still, some residents weren't satisfied. Carole Donohoo, president of the Singer Island Civic Association, said the project exceeds the original redevelopment plan, which called for a 100-room hotel only 10 stories in height.

"I don't believe a 28-story building is appropriate for the Ocean Mall," Donohoo said.

Resident Gerald Ward said the CRA board should take more time to review the plan, which was given to them just Friday.

Developers must now submit an official site plan. At that time, residents will be able to weigh in further on the plan.

Meanwhile, the group must wait for the city to determine whether it will extend the current Ocean Mall lease from 50 to 99 years. Developers have said that financing for the project hinges on obtaining a 99-year lease.

Catalfumo also said the businesses currently at the mall would have first opportunity to occupy the new building.

Last April, the CRA board approved a much more dense plan presented by Marriott to build a hotel, two time-share towers, shops and restaurants. That plan outraged some residents and prompted former Councilman David Schnyer to resign in protest.