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City picks developer for Ocean Breeze East
Friday, 14 August 2015 21:38

Posted: 12:30 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 13, 2015
By Alexandra Seltzer - Palm Beach Post Staff Writer

BOYNTON BEACH —
It’s hurry up and wait once again for the often-stalled Boynton Beach residential development called Ocean Breeze East.
The project in a low-income neighborhood on Seacrest Boulevard got new life Tuesday night when the Community Redevelopment Agency chose Related Urban Development over three competitors.
But now Related must cross its fingers until May to see if the company earns approval for 9 percent tax credits necessary to build the more than 100 rental units. If the tax credits fall through, development could again be up in the air.
While commissioners David Merker and Mike Fitzpatrick voted against Related, officials said the competition was tight between all interested groups, and that all the companies could do the job.
“It’s very difficult because all of you present a lot of good things,” Mayor Jerry Taylor said. “I’m kind of interested in people who have local knowledge of this community who have done business close to Boynton Beach.”
Related, which has roots in Boynton through condo developments Marina Village and Casa Costa, pitched a 120-unit, four-story building with a U-shaped design and a courtyard. It would be up to green standards, its parking wouldn’t be visible from the street and they’d hire local people. Albert Milo Jr., one of the company’s principals, said he preferred not to make it a gated community because doing so would isolate the area.
The development would have community and fitness centers, a library area and a wellness center, that Milo said was important in low-income communities such as the Heart of Boynton. The group will pay the CRA $2 million for the property, according to CRA documents.
All interested groups — Related, Centennial Management, Housing Trust Group and The Westbrook Center — planned to go after the 9 percent tax credits from the Florida Housing Finance Corp. If Related fails to get the 9 percent it would go for 4 percent credits, but with that comes a financing gap. Milo couldn’t say exactly how that gap would be closed.
During Centennial’s presentation, a representative said the company was at a disadvantage because Related representatives had spoken with board members, and Centennial hadn’t because he thought there was a cone of silence, which prohibited developers from speaking to the board. However, the cone of silence applies only to a request for proposal process, and this time around there was no RFP because the property was posted on the commercial website Loopnet.com and groups submitted letters of intent.
Ocean Breeze East has been vacant for about 10 years. There have been several failed plans to develop, with the most recent being HH Boynton. The group pulled out in April.

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