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The path a city has to chart in order to develop itself, is laden with obstacles and hurdles. There are the obvious challenges such as planning the infrastructure and then there are the headier and more detailed tasks of elaborating designs, working within a budget, and planning for known knowns, known unknowns and unknown unknowns. In addition to all these considerations, perhaps the most important of all, is public opinion.
Public opinion is always varied. Some are in favor or progress while others have concerns about what changes development and a more densely populated city will bring. Others dislike the fact that their small city is growing and won’t be the way it once was.
The City of Oakland Park is one city that is in the midst of redevelopment. Along with several bond projects to improve the City’s infrastructure, the City has been planning since the Fall of 2020 to redevelop 6 acres in its city center. Public opinion regarding that development has fallen along a spectrum.
Concerns regarding the sale of the City’s downtown properties to Horizon of Oakland Park LLC prompted Chantelle Iacone, a resident of the Corals in east Oakland Park, to vent her concerns in the Living In Oakland Park Facebook group.
Below is the picture along with the message she wrote urging residents to appear at the August 3, 2022 commission meeting to deter the sale.
“When I left Aventura after two years of living there to move to Oakland Park, I left an extremely busy area for this quiet and quaint town for my family. I fell in love with the downtown aspects of Oakland Park. We have invested time and energy like many of you have in the past few years. The downtown project on the current city hall and library will change this town. I encourage all residents of Oakland Park to educate themselves on this upcoming project and attend tomorrows meeting at City Hall.
While the revitalization project to move the current City Hall across Dixie Highway is a fantastic project, the addition of adding a mid-level high rise in its current place will change this quaint downtown. Please take a look at what could potentially be changed. There are many puzzle pieces to this project. The City Manager is trying to acquire several additional spaces for their condo/apartment high rise. We need to let the City Manager know this community will not back down.
Many things are being miscommunicated and are not being discussed fully to its residents; especially residents in the immediate project area. Please attend the meeting tomorrow to better understand what is happening to this town.”
The post generated a variety of opinions regarding the project.
These comments were in favor of the project:
These comments were against the project:
At the August 3 City Commission meeting, Renee Miller, of Renee Miller consulting group, shared a presentation to the City Commission about the Downtown Properties Redevelopment Project.
The presentation reviewed the timeline of the project, highlighted City Commission priorities for the redevelopment of Downtown Oakland Park, detailed how the project would be developed on the site, explained the financial part and the next steps. The final recommendation was that the City approve both the sale of the properties (item 2 on the agenda) and authorize the City to enter into the development agreement with the developer (item 10 on the agenda).
To download a copy of the full presentation, click here.
After Ms. Miller’s presentation, the floor was open to public comments regarding the sale of the downtown properties. Thirteen residents expressed their opinions regarding the project.
Of the thirteen residents that spoke, four were against the project, and six were in favor. Three raised concerns and offered suggestions but were not against development per se.
Carlos Ortega, a resident of NE 15th Ave was against the project. He shared the following commentary: “We’ve talked to hundreds of people and nobody wants this… We love it [here], but this is just too much. This is going to be an eyesore to our community… You don’t care about the residents… We don’t even know what’s going to happen with these other constructions and how that’s gonna affect our community…You guys really need to think about that“.
Tim Smith, former Vice Mayor of Fort Lauderdale, offered his support for the project along with some advice: “I spent a lot of time in public service, and this thing should pass and you should build it, but you should make sure that all the good things can come from it, and there are developers will will drag it down the pike and not give you all that you deserve… Tell them okay, we love this, you’re gonna build it, but these are things we need, and they will give it to you“.
Only one person that shared their opinion on the Facebook Group, Dale Janni, owner of Park Place Spa and Body Sculpt, was actually at the meeting and spoke during public comments. Mr. Janni offered his support for the project, sharing that “I love the direction things are going… I think the design and the whole concept of the thing is wonderful”. Mr. Janni also added that he has found the process to be very transparent, access to information easy and that all his concerns had been addressed.
Watch the video below to see the portion of the Commission Meeting in which Item #2, the sale of the downtown properties was discussed.
Assistant City Manager Jennifer Frastai spoke briefly about the project. Then each of the City Commissioners spoke before voting.
Former Mayor and current City Commissioner, Jane Bolin, shared the following: “So I do want to thank all the residents who came out it is a bit of a surprise, because I hadn’t heard from many, but I know that myself and the entire Commission has always been available and this process has been going on for some time. I think the most important thing here is this is not some sort of giveaway to a developer. This is not just about creating tax roll property taxes for the City. This is about creating the driver for our downtown and for our City. The way this has been structured is really quite brilliant. Not only are we receiving more than the appraised value by $1.4 million, we’ve also restructured the deposits in such a way that they become nonrefundable. We’ve considered every possible angle on this, and I understand the concerns of neighbors, but certainly I hope all the neighbors understand that we are also residents of the City of Oakland Park, and we are all very concerned about making sure we balance smart growth. And to me, this is a smart growth project. I’m excited about it. I’m proud of it!”.
Commissioner Sparks, Commissioner Rosenwald, and Vice Mayor Gordon echoed similar sentiments in support of the project.
Mayor Michael Carn, finalized the Commision’s commentary by sharing how this vision for Downtown had been in place over a decade before when he was on the Main Street Board. He shared how he had taken notes, and that on those notes are plans for the west Dixie lots (location of the new Sky Building) and the redevelopment of Downtown. “The late John Stunson (former City Manager) that was his vision… and to then come from that side of the microphone to this side of the desk to participate and contribute what we’ve been afforded to contribute to this process. So yes, I am in support of this. I think the one important element here tonight is that this is not a built box. It hasn’t happened yet. The designs haven’t come before us yet. There could be some change of heart still…I wrote copious notes from all the speakers … you have been heard you have been listened to. We will look forward to the community meetings and neighborhood participation meetings on this behalf, and so with that, we are going to say thank you again, for your passionate participation…“.
After the motion was made, the City Commission unanimously approved the City Properties Purchase and Sales Agreement. After this motion passed, the City prioritized item 10 regarding the development agreement. That also passed unanimously.
One of the next steps for the developer is to hold a Neighborhood Participation Meeting. At this meeting residents are able to ask the developer questions about the project. Residents within a 750 foot radius of the project will be notified of the meeting but all residents may participate. Those that have concerns are encouraged to stay informed about when the meeting will happen by checking on the City’s calendar or signing up for notifications.
EDITOR, PUBLISHER, WRITER, PHOTOGRAPHER, REALTOR®
Désirée Ávila has called Oakland Park her home for over 33 years. In addition to publishing LivingInOaklandPark.com, Désirée has been featured in print publications, locally and abroad. Désirée was an award winning teacher for 10 years and has a doctoral level education in Educational Technology. She is currently a licensed Florida Realtor® and is committed to a high-level of professionalism.
Désirée consistently professionally develops herself and has earned several different professional designations and certifications in real estate including the PSA, e-Pro, AHWD, SRS, ABR, and SFR. She was also awarded the C2EX, Commitment to Excellence award by the National Association for Realtors (NAR). This award is given to Realtors® that distinguish themselves for their commitment to excellence in the real estate industry.
She is esteemed by her real estate colleagues and has consistently received 5 star reviews from her clients. Her philosophy about real estate is that being a Realtor® is a way of teaching and helping people, and in the process a real estate transaction may occur, that is to say her foremost priority is and has always been about helping others.
She is dedicated to her hometown of Oakland Park and works consistently on building and fostering a strong community. She is passionate about photography and loves to read books about history ; the more detail the better! In addition to English, Désirée is fluent in Portuguese, Spanish, French and Italian.
Check out her real estate websites:
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© 2019 LivingInOaklandPark.com is published by The Pink Pineapple Creative Company LLC. The Pink Pineapple Creative Company LLC is owned by Desiree Avila, M.A., P.A. Realtor®, C2EX, PSA®, SRS®, SFR®, ABR®, GRI, e-Pro, and AHDWD. Desiree Avila is licensed Florida Realtor® with Charles Rutenberg Realty in Fort Lauderdale. For information about real estate in the area go to www.desireeavilarealtor.com
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