By Jane Smith
One of the owners of the historic Sundy House in Delray Beach still wants to do a project at Lake Worth Beach, but under different terms.
Hudson Holdings, which also has an ownership stake in the historic Gulfstream Hotel in downtown Lake Worth, sent a letter Sept. 15 to the city that it is withdrawing from the “invitation to negotiate” process for the casino complex.
In the letter addressed to the city manager, Hudson Holdings principal Steven Michael writes, “the current ITN process has been derailed by a lack of clear direction and structure.”
Michael explained that his company now wants to use the “P3 process.” The relatively new public-private partnership allows developers to submit unsolicited proposals to local governments and agencies as long as the project still serves a public purpose. Using this process, Hudson Holdings’ project would relieve the city of its $300,000-$400,000 shortfall at the casino building and create something that a group of residents wants, he said.
“And also for us, to create something super high-end hotel guests want,” Michael said. Next to the Gulfstream, Michael said, he wants to build a hotel annex carrying Hilton’s latest high-end brand, Curio.
Such hotels will be part of “a carefully selected, global collection of distinctive four- and five-star hotels that offer travelers local discovery and authentic experiences in key markets,” according to the Hilton website.
Hudson just submitted plans to create a 12,000-square-foot, two-story building that would have an open first floor and “a nice public restaurant” on the second floor. The restaurant would have a full kitchen, allowing renters to have catering done on site, Michael said.
“It would give us a nice tie-in with our hotels. We could use parking at the hotels for weddings, events and parties for our guests,” he said.
That building also would have a covered valet drop-off area, public restrooms and a lifeguard control station.
In addition, Hudson Holdings would replace the existing pool with one that can be used for meets and build two other pools — for recreation and kids.
It also plans to build out the empty space on the second floor of the casino building and pay market rental rate.
But it won’t add more parking.
The city will have an option to issue a revenue bond for a 150-car garage on the lower level, Michael said. He estimates the cost to be $4 million.
He said Hudson Holdings would pay whatever the city requires to have the plans reviewed for financial feasibility.
Around the city, the red signs still are standing. They say: “Hands off our beach. No to private development.”
The unusual “invitation to negotiate” process started in September 2014 as a way to get developers interested in completing the casino complex and fixing the aging city pool and locker rooms.
Hudson Holdings was involved early on, but the city review committee asked the company four times to reduce the size of the project.
“Further exacerbating the problem is the number of times the ‘goalposts have been moved’ by staff regarding the size and scope of the project making it impossible for the ITN to be completed in a fair and responsible way,” Michael wrote.
He also pointed out that the city is paying for the previous renovation by lengthening its repayment schedule to its water utilities fund, which increases the cost of water to Lake Worth residents.
Meanwhile, Hudson Holdings submitted a rezoning plan for the Gulfstream Hotel parcels in August. The plan will be reviewed by the city’s Historic Preservation Board this month and then the Lake Worth City Commission in November.
Hudson Holdings teamed with Carl DeSantis, founder of Rexall Sundown vitamins, to buy the historic Gulfstream Hotel for $7.22 million in May 2014.
In Delray Beach, Hudson Holdings has an ownership stake in the Midtown Delray project on West Atlantic Avenue and South Swinton Avenue. Preliminary plans for the project were submitted in June. The partners are reviewing comments made by the various departments, Michael said.
They also will seek permission to move seven historic structures now located on Swinton Avenue as part of the Sundy House project.
By Jane Smith