Boynton CRA board approves $4.4 million funding deal for 500 Ocean
Thursday, 12 February 2015 16:15

By Alexandra Seltzer - Palm Beach Post Staff Writer

BOYNTON BEACH — It's a go.

On Tuesday night, the Boynton Beach Community Redevelopment Agency board approved giving the 500 Ocean developers about $4.39 million in incentives over the next 10 years to help support the cost of the project.

The contract has been in limbo for months, and has held back any movement at the southwest corner of Federal Highway and Ocean Avenue.
"There's been bumps in the road but we believe in the location. We believe in Boynton Beach," said Tom Hayden, the director of development at LeCesse Development Corp., a real estate firm involved in the project.
Now that the money agreement has been approved, Hayden said he will begin submitting plans to the city at the end of the month, and hopes to start construction in April.

The direct-incentive funding agreement is between the CRA and Morgan Boynton Beach LLC, a company created by LeCesse of Altamonte Springs and property management company Morgan Management LLC. In return for the money, the developer will have the apartments up to a special green building certification, will build more than 6,000 square feet of office space and will have three electric vehicle charger stations.

The money will come from tax revenue created from the construction. The $4.39 million will be front-loaded, so the developer will get more of the money in the first few years.

CRA board members — which are the City Commission and two appointed members — have high hopes for the residential/retail project and expect it to ignite other development in the city's downtown. The $67 million development would be a six-story building with commercial space lining Ocean Avenue. There'd be 341 one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments priced for rent at between $1,300 and $2,000 per month.

In July, the City Commission approved the project's site plan and rezoning the 4.69 acres, which has been vacant since 2003. But the money issue has always been a concern. Hayden originally said he needed $7 million, according to documents.

That figure was negotiated down to the present figure, and in October, the CRA board members gave the CRA the approval to move forward with the funding agreement.

The road to approval hasn't been easy for the developer and at times it seemed the deal wouldn't happen. Vice Mayor Joe Casello has asked for Hayden's word that he won't flip the project and Commissioner Mike Fitzpatrick said he didn't believe Hayden needed the CRA's money and questioned why the identities of the project's investors haven't been released.

But Vivian Brooks, the CRA's executive director, said she is comfortable with the deal and that the developer does need the financial help.

The mood at the meeting Tuesday night was lighter, and the CRA board seemed pleased to approve the deal. Vice Mayor Joe Casello praised Hayden for his patience throughout the process.

"At certain times it didn't look that good and you guys kept your nose to the ground," Casello said. "We got this deal done."

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