Article by Marisa Gottesman, originally published by Sun Sentinel on Aug 21, 2013.
Photo Credit: Sun Sentinel

The Community Redevelopment Agency board could select a winning proposal ThursdayThe Old Library Site, recently rebranded as the ‘Fourth and Fifth Avenues Site,’ is ready for a new tenant to go along with its new name.

The Community Redevelopment Agency, which is responsible for revamping the old areas of Delray, has received four proposals for the 1.57 acres of land on Southeast Fourth Avenue where the old library stands.

Ideas for the space include combinations of hotels, movie theaters, retail shops, office spaces and parking garages.

The CRA board could choose the winning plan at Thursday’s 5 p.m. workshop meeting, and residents who want a movie theater downtown will be watching the decision closely.

“All four proposals would add value to our downtown,” said Elizabeth Burrows the marketing and grants manager for the CRA. “The board is in for a tough decision.”

The CRA placed the property out for rebid in February after the original 2006 plan to build a hotel fell victim to the recession.

This doesn’t mean the idea of a hotel is out of the question.

Burrows said CRA staff is recommending board approval of Kolter Group LLC’s concept, which includes a hotel, 21,000 square feet for offices and retail stores and 250 parking spaces.

“This doesn’t mean staff is recommending a hotel,” she said explaining that Kolter isn’t the only group with a hotel in its blueprints.

Rather, she said PMG Associates Inc., an outside firm that specializes in redevelopment, determined the group has the strongest financial package.

Kolter’s offering the most money for the property and has shown positive economic returns from a previous development in the city, the Hyatt Place Pineapple Grove hotel.

But, with Delray’s Regal Cinema closing, residents may want to see the board vote differently.

“I would love to have a movie theater that I could walk to downtown,” said Kevin Warner, a resident who says he keeps an eye on decisions the city makes.

The PMG report said demand for a movie theater at the site is “impossible to determine,” because people rate theaters on what movies are shown and their individual experiences with the venue.

The CRA is just ready to put the unoccupied building to use.

The original hotel deal with Coastal Design & Development involved transactions between the CRA, the city and the Chamber of Commerce, and intended to help the chamber move into the Old School Square parking garage.

When ties with the developer were cut last September, the city was left with the empty library and the chamber’s move was placed on hold.

To involve fewer parties, the CRA purchased the city’s stake of the land, renamed it and placed it up grabs alone.

But before the board casts their votes, they will hear presentations from each developer followed by a question and answer session. From there, Burrows said they can choose a winner or scrap the ideas.