By Jane Smith

    The owner of the proposed iPic luxury movie theater in downtown Delray Beach received a seventh extension of a purchase contract from the city’s Community Redevelopment Agency.
    The agency extended the contract until Jan. 31 to allow time to reach an agreement with the city on the parking garage.         “I feel strongly we need to move this project forward,” said Cathy Balestriere, CRA board member.
    Most of her colleagues agreed while saying they were frustrated with the delay. The CRA will receive $3.6 million from the property sale to iPic.
    Only one board member voted no at the Oct. 20 meeting.
    Since signing the agreement more than three years ago, iPic has built six other theaters, said Daniel Rose, the CRA board member who voted against the extension.
    “What about Delray’s?” he asked.
    CRA Attorney David Tolces assured the board members. He said if they agreed to the extension, they would show they were “operating in good faith … and acting as a facilitator to allow the city and the developer to reach a [parking garage] agreement.” Then if iPic needed more time at the end of January, the board would be in a better position to take action.
    The CRA owns the 1.59-acre site, which once housed the city library and chamber of commerce. The developer proposes to build a multilevel garage with 315 parking spaces, with 90 reserved for public use. The City Commission took over the garage agreement in March to ensure the public parking spaces would be included in the iPic garage.
    City commissioners approved that agreement Nov. 1. The contract calls for construction to start within a year of the property purchase date, completion in three years and public spaces reserved on the second floor and part of the third.
    The developer agreed to pay the city $162,620 for seven parking spaces. The money is due when iPic receives its building permit from the city.
    People who want to use the public parking spaces will be able to bypass the iPic valet, the spaces will be labeled “public parking” and drivers will have the ability to turn around safely inside the garage. It will be open the same hours as the other city garages, 6 a.m. to 2 a.m.
    The iPic developer is responsible for maintaining the garage, but may contact the CRA to pay for the maintenance of the public parking spaces.
    Separately, the city’s Downtown Development Authority is working with CRA staff and the iPic development team to find 90 parking spaces that customers and employees can use while the project is under construction, said Laura Simon, DDA executive director.
    In March, the iPic complex received city approval to build a mixed-use development with eight movie theaters having 497 seats and taking up 44,979 square feet of space, 43,880 square feet of office space and 7,487 square feet of retail space.
    Another condition of approval requires iPic to move its corporate headquarters to Delray Beach and occupy 20,000 square feet for five years.
    The third condition covers traffic on southbound Federal Highway, requiring iPic to station a police officer near its pedestrian entrance to prevent drivers from stopping to drop off passengers for the movies.
    The fourth condition covers the public terrace on the third floor of the complex. The iPic developer will allow free access to the terrace at least between normal business hours of 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
    In other CRA action, the Currie Sowards Aguila Architects firm was awarded a $90,000 contract to create a new design for the city’s historic Old School Square grounds. That contract calls for site analysis, designs to be delivered in six months, meetings with a “core committee” appointed by CRA staff to review the progress and plans, two community meetings and presentation of the master plan to the CRA board and City Commission for approval and adoption. CRA members voted 6-0 after Balestriere left the meeting.
    The CRA and the city also won a statewide award from the Florida Redevelopment Association at its annual meeting in October. They received an outstanding achievement in the Transportation/Transit Enhancements category for the U.S. 1/Federal Highway beautification project.
    The roadway was narrowed by one travel lane in each direction to make room for on-street parking, a bike lane and wider, landscaped sidewalks. The nearly $14 million project began in 2004 and finished last year with five partners: $5.1 million from the state, $3.6 million from the CRA, $3 million from the city, $2.2 million from the federal government and $178,734 from developers.

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