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Boynton's Ocean Breeze East project hits snag
Monday, 29 December 2014 16:43

By Attiyya Anthony Sun Sentinel
December 23, 2014
It's back to the drawing board for a major redevelopment project in Boynton Beach.
A developer's recent change to add low income rentals to a proposed development in the Heart of Boynton has killed the project.
At a Boynton Beach Community Redevelopment Agency meeting earlier this month, the board voted to squash the project and begin looking for another developer to build on the long vacant property.
Ocean Breeze East, a 4.5-acre lot on the eastside of Seacrest Boulevard, has been empty since 2007. That's when the redevelopment agency purchased the land after Boynton Terrace, a housing project on the lot, was razed.
When the agency bought the property, it hoped to develop the land. But several deals have fallen through, and now city officials are beginning to worry about the fate of the property.
"I don't know what they're doing with it," said David Merker, redevelopment agency board member. "It's in limbo."
No matter how much time passes, city officials say that the lot is essential to revitalizing the Heart of Boynton — the city's impoverished downtown.
"All these developments are that important, it's not only redesigning the Heart of Boynton, its redesigning the city," Merker said.
"If we are able to develop the places that are blighted, there will be buyers and landowners who want to move forward with the city," he added. "Once you fix up the hole-in-the-wall, people will want to follow."
Earlier this year, the agency selected HH Boynton LLC to develop the Ocean Breeze East property. HH Boynton LLC is a team of two developers — Neighborhood Renaissance and Hudson Holdings. When financing became a problem, Hudson Holdings recruited another developer, The Auburn Group, to help.
When The Auburn Group hopped on board, Neighborhood Renaissance left the deal. The Auburn Group was the losing bidder for the project.
Auburn suggested the project be funded with tax credit, which would mean that the project would need to include low income housing. According to city documents, this was a major stray from the city's initial plan.
"What we approved has gone away because half of the team has dropped out," said Mayor Jerry Taylor. "I think we need to start from scratch and see what's going on."
The redevelopment agency will issue a new bid on the property next year.
Ocean Breeze East is part of a larger Ocean Breeze project, which includes Ocean Breeze East and Ocean Breeze West.
Ocean Breeze West, a 21 low-to-moderate-income community, was completed this month.
Property history
In 2007: A proposal to build 84 senior apartments fell through.
In 2009: Rental idea flopped due to a lack of finances.
In 2011: Boynton discussed putting police headquarters on the lot.
December 2013: The redevelopment agency voted to pull the plug because of a lack of communication between the developer and the agency.

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