Pompano Beach overhaul hits snag
Redevelopment consultant quits
By Anne Geggis Staff writer
Pompano Beach’s quest to become a hip and cultural world-class destination faces a new challenge with the looming departure of its redevelopment consultant.
Plans to create a vibrant tourist-friendly beachside are still well underway, with restaurants , a hotel and shops lined up for a 6.5-acre swath of city-owned land. An oceanside restaurant in Pompano is scheduled to open its doors next month, the first in nearly 13 years.
But luring hotels, restaurants and stores to the city’s northwest side may not happen as quickly. That’s because Redevelopment Management Associates plans to end its nine-year contract with the city shortly.
With its departure, it’s likely fewer people will be working on plans to turn the city’s northwest from a blighted area into an urban, waterfront oasis, according to Kim Briesemeister, one of the co-directors of RMA. The company was hired to direct tens of millions in taxpayer money toward busting Pompano’s blight.
Still taking shape in the northwest were plans for a canal that would run along a half-mile stretch between Interstate 95 and Dixie Highway, north of Atlantic Boulevard and south of Northwest Third Street. That waterfront property could attract restaurants and stores to the area.
The number of people working on its northwest effort — 21 — will be going down once the company leaves, Briesemeister said.
The company, which cited a hostile environment in city meetings as the reason for leaving, plans to stay on for three more months. Then, the city takes over operation of the city’s redevelopment agency.
Mayor Lamar Fisher said he’s not surprised the city’s longtime contractor will be splitting. An anticipated settlement in lawsuits between the city and Broward County will mean there will be less money to spend on redevelopment, Fisher said.
Since 2014, the two sides have been suing each other over whether Pompano’s redevelopment agency should continue to receive county dollars for blight-busting. Pompano wants its redevelopment agency to continue until 2040; the county wants it to go away sooner.
“We have to prepare,” Fisher said of the settlement’s eventuality.
He declined to comment on the hostile environment described by Redevelopment Management Associates in its resignation letter.
In December, two City Commission members had voted to fire the company in an emergency meeting . But a majority of the commission agreed to keep it on its $1.1 million contract, letting it continue to oversee improvements on the city beachside and its northwest district .
Still, its strained relationship with some city leaders was impugning the company’s reputation, Breisemeister said.
Public meetings have become occasions where the company is “constantly having to go on record to correct erroneous statements by the same commissioners and a handful of people,” Briesemeister said in a statement.
The emergency meeting in December was called when three members of the City Commission said they were surprised to discover the principal directors of the redevelopment company had purchased property in the area Redevelopment Management Associates was under contract to redevelop.
Briesemeister and Chris Brown, co-directors of the associates, had purchased the property in 2015 under companies with different names: Old Towne Flagler LLC and East Village 2300 LLC, according to property records.
Mayor Fisher, who voted to keep the company on in December, said he has nothing but admiration for the redevelopment that has occurred under Breisemeister and Brown’s watch.
“I think RMA has done a fantastic job on our redevelopment efforts,” Fisher said. “We are going to continue the momentum.”
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