Hallandale Beach Government Pays Millions to U.S. Post Office in Yet Another Land Deal

Categories: Politics
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Keith London: Just say no.
Once again, Hallandale Beach Commissioner Keith London found himself the lone dissenter on a vote in which the gung-ho City Commission voted, under the leadership of Mayor Joy Cooper, to spend millions on a real-estate purchase without clear plans for what the property would become.

William Gjebre at Broward Bulldog has been tracking the city's land boondoggles for a while, and the most recent one involves a reported $9 million being paid to buy back some lovely land near the Golden Isles community from the walking-dead U.S. Postal Service.

The mail facility would move to a smaller space, and Hallandale would get back the land it sold to USPS for $2.5 million in 1986. The city maintained the right of first refusal should the post office choose to sell the land.

Hallandale Beach is fond of scooping up properties into a land bank, mainly through tax revenues funneled through the local Community Redevelopment Agency.

A few weeks back, Gjebre compiled a list of the city's recent purchases. They include:

  • Three properties near City Hall, 7.6 acres, were purchased for $18 million in September 2007 for expansion of Bluesten Park as part of a green area in the center of the city. The total current market value: $7.6 million.
  • Property on Ansin Boulevard, 2.87 acres, was purchased for $2.9 million in June 2006 for a trash transfer project that failed to get under way after northwest section residents objected to the facility. Excess city vehicles are being stored on the land. The current value: $1.1 million.
  • Four parcels in the 500 block of NW First Avenue and nearby North Dixie Highway, totaling just over one acre, were purchased for a total of $2.1 million in 2006 for revitalization in the city's northwest area. The current value is $333,600.
  • The property at 800 NE Fifth St., one-third of an acre, was purchased for $450,000 in December 2007. It was developed as Sunrise Park. The current market value is $185,000.
In addition, the city paid $1.2 million to former U.S. Congressman Peter Deutsch recently to keep him and his partners from building a controversial Jewish charter school.

As usual, Commissioner London is the only one asking whether the city can really afford to keep buying property (actually, he says it can't). He also criticizes Cooper and his fellow commissioners for not having a plan for the acquired properties.

In response, Cooper called detractors of the deals "naysayers," referencing several missed opportunities to buy fancy waterfront property that would, supposedly, have increased in value.


Stefan Kamph is a New Times staff writer.
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8 comments
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AMWakeUpCall
AMWakeUpCall

Instead of gossiping in the blogs and reporting on Keith London's assertions as facts, perhaps Stefan Kamph and Broward Bulldog and others should instead attend and report on the city of Hallandale Beach's upcoming meeting  during which the plans for the city's CRA and property purchases will be laid out in a public meeting:

CITY COMMISSION/CITY MANAGER WORKSHOP AGENDAMONDAY, NOVEMBER 14, 2011 6:00 PM

http://www.cohb.org/files/0041... 

VoiceofFairways
VoiceofFairways

The postoffice site is zoned as “community facility (CF)” to be used as a library, firestation, park, etc. Including it in the “Regional Activity Center (RAC)”weakens the CF zoning, but not fatally. The land with a CF zoning, with littlechance of re-zoning it, should have very little value to commercial developers.With the stipulation that the buyer has to build a new post office building,within a half a mile from its current location, I do not think there is going tobe a great outside interest in the deal. Since the City of Hallandale Beach hasthe “right of first refusal”, my offer would have been $1.00 and a new post officebuilding, not to exceed two and a half million dollars. I hope the City did notoffer more than it was necessary.     

AMWakeUpCall
AMWakeUpCall

What's important is that Hallandale residents have the facts at hand. Perhaps the city commission, the mayor and the city manager are not helping in that fashion, or not helping enough, but Commissioner London is continually pulling residents in the other direction in order to "divide & conquer," hoping that all of his continual negativity will help him electorally in the next election. 

We need a positive, friendly society in Hallandale that encourages the buying and selling of properties and the investment and expansion of businesses. We also need to foster and encourage political participation so that a variety of residents can feel that they have the opportunity to run for open seats and to have a voice in government.

Instead, Commissioner London sends out emails full of insinuations and negativity with no direct community involvement with the needy and the working classes, and if anybody questions his information, he cuts them off of his email list- sent from his city hall email address. He fosters outrage and suspicion from residents in the wealthier sections of town, including from his own million dollar plus neighborhood and from the beach condos. That's where the votes are, and that's all he ever really cares about at all. London may know a lot about water and trash and infrastructure and what have you at times, but his interest is never really the quality of life for Hallandale residents of all races and classes. His interest is only in his next election.

Whatever mistakes the city makes, there is nothing much to be done about it if we don't have a variety of candidates of quality to choose from. Instead of cutting people out of the dialogue, every politician and every resident should instead be fostering participation and dialogue based on FACTS. 

One fact is that Hallandale has had a more capable leader of the CRA since last January, and plans for land that is banked are in the works with the involvement of the commission and the city manager. Another fact is that the city of Hallandale can afford a lot. 

London may believe that the city should have priorities other than buying properties, but that's his opinion, not an honest assessment that the city can't "afford" this or that. That's not the job of a city commissioner to be proclaiming to the public that the city is in trouble, can't afford its planned purchases and has no plan for this, that or anything. If Commission London has a plan for the city in any regards, it's well past time that he proclaims what the hell it is. 

In the meantime, he should be portraying the city to the press and to the blogs as a place that has much potential and that can move forward from any past mistakes. If he wants instead to only be continually negative, then he should resign and just be an outside activist like Chaz Stevens and Mike Butler. The city shouldn't be paying anybody to portray the city in as negative a light as possible to every outlet in the press and on the net. If there is no other light in which to portray Hallandale Beach other than with negativity, then it is time to RESIGN from the commission and agitate to the public without that city paycheck and benefits package.

AMWakeUpCall
AMWakeUpCall

Planning for the CRA and for an Economic Development Strategy  as well as the City Manager's Authority to Purchase Property in Hallandale amongst other CRA and property issues is on the next City Manager Workshop meeting with the Hallandale Beach Commission on Nov 14th:http://www.cohb.org/files/0041... Rather than the New Times blog and/or Broward Bulldog or anybody else gossiping about the city commission and the manager's intentions, why don't they instead attend the open meeting and report on it?? Please don't rely on London to tell you what happened in any regard. 

FQS9000
FQS9000

Who says politicians aren't stupid.  One term & out and no pension & no benefits.

Chaz Stevens, Genius
Chaz Stevens, Genius

Stefan;

It will be a great day for HB when Keith London kicks Cooper's ass up and down US1 in next year's election.

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