The Coastal Star

Delray Beach: Grant fuels talk of limits in CRA program

By Jane Smith

Illustrated Properties recently received a $37,122 grant from the Delray Beach Community Redevelopment Agency to help build out its office space at 700 E. Atlantic Ave.
The money — payable after the work is done — represents 40 percent of the allowable costs because of the office’s location, said Elizabeth Burrows, CRA economic development manager.
“The real estate office sits across from the now underway Atlantic Crossing project,” she said at the July 12 CRA meeting.
Illustrated Properties merged with the Keyes Co. real estate brokers in 2016. They want to combine their Delray Beach staffs at one location and triple the number of agents to 90 people who will work out of the 1,600-square-foot office, Burrows said.
The office sits on the ground floor of a building currently owned by a company headed by Lucille Handelsman, the ex-wife of real estate mogul Burt Handelsman, and their adult children.
The Handelsmans were married for more than 67 years when Lucille, known as Lovey, filed for divorce in March 2016. The corporate ownership record for 700 E. Atlantic was changed a few months after the divorce filing.
A judge granted their divorce earlier this year. Now, the two — Burt, 90, and Lucille, 89 — must finish dividing their multimillion-dollar commercial real estate holdings.
The CRA board passed the grant unanimously. Shelly Petrolia, who is both Delray Beach mayor and CRA chairwoman, said at the CRA meeting that she would like to reconsider whether the agency will pay to build out interiors.
“I thought we only paid for exterior improvements,” Petrolia said.
Burrows said CRA board members would be able to comment on any grant changes they would like to see at an upcoming workshop meeting.
At that July 16 workshop, Petrolia said she wants to move away from remodeling spaces of wealthy businesses and “spend the CRA tax dollars to improve streets, connect sidewalks and cure blight.”
Board member Ryan Boylston agreed.
He said when he first started Woo Creative, now known as 2TON Creative, he was interested in a CRA buildout grant for the second-floor office at 135 E. Atlantic Ave. in another Handelsman building. But he was told nothing was available.
Four years later — starting in April 2016 — the CRA began offering interior grants, Burrows said. The grants cover flooring, walls, doors, electrical and plumbing for offices and art galleries, she said. The CRA does not award grants to restaurants and retailers, she said.
If the interior improvement program is scaled back to cover only electrical, plumbing and air-conditioning systems, Illustrated Properties would be eligible for a total CRA reimbursement of $16,016.80. That amount is less than half of what the real estate company was awarded.
Burrows said the staff would take feedback from the workshop, revise the interior buildout grant program, then bring it back to the CRA board for approval at a future date.

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