Commission likely to vote this month on city
review team’s recommendations for downtown
By Jane Smith
The four candidates Boynton Beach is considering to work on redeveloping Town Square read like a “who’s who” of development teams in South Florida and beyond.
Boynton Beach is seeking a developer partner to help jump-start the 16.5-acre site downtown that is home to its City Hall, police headquarters, fire station No. 1, Civic Center, Madsen Center and Arts Center. According to the city, the mixed-use development can accommodate residential, office and retail space.
Among the notable names in the proposals are:
Historic preservation architect Rick Gonzalez, currently working on the Swinton Commons project in Delray Beach, is part of the Boynton Beach Town Square LLC bid. He also worked on the restoration of the Mar-a-Lago estate for President-elect Donald J. Trump.
Another participant in this proposal is John Markey, whose firm developed two multifamily projects in the western part of Boynton Beach. The team includes Kimley-Horn, a North Carolina-based engineering design firm that does consulting work for cities throughout South Florida.
Bill Branning, former Delray Beach Community Redevelopment Agency board member and board chairman of the Old School Square in Delray Beach, and his BSA Construction firm teamed with Atlantic Realty Partners and Kaplan Residential as part of the Boynton Vision LLC bid.
Local attorney Michael Weiner, who owns the Post Office building at Seacrest Avenue and Boynton Beach Boulvard, is also a participant along with Kimley-Horn.
The third bidder, Town Square Partners, includes Davis Camalier and William Morris, who are developing the Ocean One project in Boynton Beach. They are joined by Kaufman Lynn, the Boca Raton-based construction company that is moving its headquarters to Delray Beach; along with historic preservation planner Wes Blackman, whose firm has done work for Trump; and Chris Brown, former Delray Beach CRA director, and his Redevelopment Management Associates, which provides contract services to cities to run their CRA districts.
The fourth team, Municipal Consolidation and Construction, is based in Washington, D.C. Its president, Frank Haney, has committed to hiring local firms to do design, engineering, surveying and legal work.
The first round of selecting a developer partner ended Nov. 22, with four candidates made public Dec. 22. A six-member city review team will select one to four of them to move to the next round of review by Jan. 6, according to Tim Howard, assistant city manager.
The development teams will be ranked based on a set of criteria that include: the team’s development experience with projects over 350,000 square feet, partnership experience with a government agency, the makeup and experience of the design team and experience of its architects and contractors, the team’s financing capacity, and experience with at least one public-private partnership.
Then the full City Commission will have to approve the selections, likely at its Jan. 17 meeting, Howard said.
The Public Library, Schoolhouse Children’s Museum and historic high school must remain at their current locations in Town Square, according to the city proposal document. Boynton Beach is open to demolishing the Civic, Madsen and Arts centers and having their uses become part of the high school building.
A potential stumbling block to reusing the high school building was removed in early December when a judge dismissed the third-amended lawsuit against the city. The judge did not allow the Boynton Old School Partnership LLC an opportunity to amend the complaint for its plans to create an event center at the high school. The only recourse for architect Juan Contin’s firm was an appeal, but nothing was filed as of Dec. 30.
Also in the mix is a city-owned 5.5-acre site along High Ridge Road. Boynton Beach had acquired the site for a new police headquarters building in 2004, but it is open to selling or trading the land at the intersection of Gateway Boulevard and Interstate 95.
For the next round, the teams will have six weeks to submit renderings of the Town Square buildings and a financing plan of how the deal will be structured. The deal’s terms include amount of taxpayer dollars requested and plans for acquiring the city-owned buildings, demolishing them and replacing them with new ones that would be leased back to the city. The rental rate should account for the value of the city-owned land given to the developers, according to the city proposal document.
The review team will spend another six weeks ranking the second-phase proposals after they are submitted. Then, the city commission will select a Town Square partner in late April or early May.
The winning team will have 20 days to pay $100,000 to the city to set up the contracts. If no deal is reached, the money will be returned within 30 days.