Related Story: Commissioners want to partner with developer, but fear getting burned
By Larry Barszewski
A developer’s commitment to build a downtown park was the only leverage Boynton Beach commissioners had regarding a moribund redevelopment project that received a $480,000 half-acre of city land in 2016 for $10. Even that leverage wasn’t much.
The Community Redevelopment Agency can’t get back the sliver of land it sold and probably wouldn’t be able to do anything with it if it did. But commissioners say the land was valuable to developer Davis Camalier because it allowed him to extend his Ocean One mixed-use development site on the east side of Federal Highway north to Boynton Beach Boulevard.
Camalier has received previous extensions to delay park construction from the commission, acting as the CRA board, because development plans for the site are in flux. If a park is built and the site’s design changes, all the improvements might have to be ripped out.
Commissioners didn’t necessarily want Camalier to start building the park now, but they have been interested in charging him for another delay in its construction. They haggled during their March CRA meeting on what Camalier should pay and doubled Camalier’s $10,000 offer to $20,000.
But rather than pay the $20,000, Camalier told commissioners at the April 13 CRA meeting he was moving forward with the park’s construction. CRA attorney Tara Duhy noted that without a new agreement with the CRA, Camalier was “technically” in default because the park construction was supposed to start a year ago and had previously received extensions only until March.
Camalier disputed that, saying it was a non-issue and that he was not in default on any agreement.
“I’m happy to go build the park. Is that what the city wants me to do? I’m happy just to go do it and I’ll start tomorrow. It’s ridiculous,” Camalier said. “Whatever you all want to do, it’s good with me. You default me, default me. I don’t think that’s appropriate.”
The discussion left several commissioners confused.
“I’m still a little perplexed as to why we’re going forward with building this park. I thought the whole intention was to not do that,” Commissioner Christina Romelus said.
“I really don’t like the idea of bringing in trees and all that kind of stuff and potentially down the road you’re going to have to tear it all up,” Commissioner Woodrow Hay said. “I mean it just doesn’t make much sense.”
Commissioners voted down a motion to give Camalier another 30-day extension to avoid default, but they also didn’t vote to hold Camalier in default now. Mayor Steven Grant said staff would have time to meet with Camalier to discuss the situation and potential options.
“The majority of the board wants to work with Mr. Camalier and discuss with him the best thing for the future of the downtown, and that may not be building a park,” Grant said.