Riviera CRA hires group to reevaluate
plan for waterfront

RIVIERA BEACH The city's redevelopment board approved an $185,000 contract with the Treasure Coast Regional Planning Council on Wednesday to reevaluate the $2.4 billion waterfront redevelopment plan.

The community redevelopment agency voted 3-1, with CRA Commissioner Norma Duncombe dissenting and CRA Commissioner Cedrick Thomas absent. Duncombe objected to the price of the contract.

"I'm worried we're going to be right back in the same position with very few people being involved in this reevaluation," Duncombe said.

However, the majority the CRA board saw the contract as a new beginning, where residents will have a voice in redeveloping some 400 acres along the Intracoastal Waterway. Michael Busha, the planning council's executive director, echoed that sentiment."I feel there is a different attitude here," said Busha, who in 1992 worked on a similar plan in Riviera Beach that wasn't developed.

CRA Commission Chair Shelby Lowe said there is a different attitude because there is a new board majority.

Lowe and two other commissioners were elected in March, ousting incumbents who many residents felt weren't sensitive to their pleas to be more involved with redevelopment.

"The difference is this new council hears the voice of the people," said Lowe, referring to the fact that the city council also sits as the CRA commission.

The contract begins immediately. The CRA now will provide details of its projects to the planning council for review. The CRA also will create a steering committee, which will include residents, to help guide the process.

The public will get to comment on the project beginning Oct. 20. A series of weeklong meetings are at the heart of the planning process. They will give residents a chance to talk to planners about the redevelopment.

Riviera Beach has struggled for years to redevelop its downtown area and city-owned oceanfront property.

At stake are two major projects: the $280 million revamp of the Ocean Mall on Singer Island and Harbor Village, the redevelopment of 400 acres of mostly blight along the west side of the Intracoastal.

Both are stalled by either civil lawsuits or changes in Florida law that no longer make redevelopment possible under the current plan.

Attorney Larry Smith - who represents builder Dan Catalfumo in the redevelopment of the Ocean Mall - asked that the board not include his client's project in the reevaluation, saying it would only delay the project.

CRA Commissioner Lynne Hubbard disagreed and said the Ocean Mall project should be included in the planning council's reevaluation.