In the November 4th City Commission meeting, three Oakland Commissioners approved the lease agreement for Oakland Park Square. The future public-private, mixed-use use development will be located at 3700-3855 N. Dixie Highway.
The meeting was held at 6:30 p.m. Vice Mayor Jane Bolin was not present. Mayor Matthew Sparks, Commissioners Tim Lonergan, and Michael Carn were in attendance along with City Manager David Hebert. Public comments were taken via Zoom and read on the record from emails sent to the commission earlier.
Oakland Park Stakeholders Show Concern and Support for the Project
Comments ranged from concern to supportive. One concerned citizen asked the commission to table the vote until the newly elected commissioners are sworn in, adding that the new commission would be saddled with the new lease. He also expressed concern over the presence of surveyors near Greenleaf Park.
On the other hand, many business owners, including Patrick Little, owner of the Butcher’s Barrel, commended and supported the project in hopes that it will bring much-needed foot traffic to the Downtown area.
The City Responds
Assistant City Manager Jennifer Frastai and City Manager David Hebert prepared a slide show, highlighting the project’s history for the public who have concerns and who may be “outside of the process”. The project, a process that has been in the works since 2001, has been in front of the commission 25 times, 10 of which were community meetings with public involvement.
Earlier this week residents concerns regarding this project were published in the article : Oakland Park Residents Voice Concerns Regarding Oakland Park Square Lease. The City’s responses can be accessed through an updated link at the bottom of the article.
Lack of Transparency Addressed
Commissioner Tim Lonergan addressed concerns of lack of transparency, stating that this project will not affect green space in Oakland Park. “If anything,” he adds, “We will increase green space in Oakland Park.…The park is not part of this development…What will go in the park is not decided yet, but something will go there.” He said, in reference the surveyors near Greenleaf Park. He also adds that the city intends to increase green space throughout the city.
City Manager David Herbert further addressed concerns of lack of transparency, stating, “When you understand the (rent) table, this project will make this city money.” The lease is a 20-year lease with a fixed rate with no exit penalty. Commissioner Michael Carn added, “This is a return on investment; we owe it to the business owners”.
West Dixie Lots Become Revenue Producing
The City purchased the two vacant lots in 2001. The lots have been empty for the last 15 years. During that time, the City faced many hurdles in finding a developer that would invest in Oakland Park. Many did not see Oakland Park as an area with a downtown life. Lonergan added that the City spent approximately 17 million dollars on improvements for the east side of downtown and only about 2 million dollars on the west side of Dixie Highway.
The projected Oakland Park Square project will turn those lots that are currently not producing any income, into revenue producing parcels. According to the City :
The land once developed will result in the City collecting ad valorem taxes on the value of the building for as long as the building exists. This revenue stream will realize much more income than the lease costs over the life of the building.
With the added economic activity in the downtown area the project is expected to increase the vitality of the area making it attractive for new businesses to grow and thrive in downtown Oakland Park.
Read more about how the City addressed concerns about the revenue stream this project would provide here.
The lease term summary is as follows:
- Lease Terms: 20 Years
- Lease Early Termination: Year 15 with one-year advance notice
- Monthly base rent: Years 1-15 fixed rate
It is expected that by year 16, the maturity will be paid off, leaving the city with equity to apply to the new construction of a city hall if that is what the new commission decides at that time.
Mayor Matt Sparks for the first time during his Mayoral tenure struck the gavel and made a motion to postpone the decision to a later time. The motion, however, was not seconded and the lease approval came up for a vote. The three Commission members present approved the lease and as they say, the rest is history.
To see a copy of the lease, click here.
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