Margaritaville giveaway to get closer look
Critics slam Hollywood after $28 million loan became grant
Critics want to know why Hollywood commissioners agreed to give the developer of Margaritaville $28 million in taxpayer money five years ago.
And they will soon be able to get all the details in a workshop proposed by City Manager Wazir Ishmael.
“I suggest we have a workshop that goes over this … so we can go over what transpired,” he told commissioners Wednesday night. “There’s some confusion. I want to set up a meeting, the sooner the better.”
The proposal was quickly supported by commissioners. A date has not been set.
Questions about the deal came up after the
recent sale of the property. The resort sold for $190 million in mid-April to a private equity firm, KSL Capital Partners.
Several commissioners are now defending the deal that was struck with Hollywood developer Lon Tabatchnick years ago.
Taxpayers kicked in $28 million to help bring the Jimmy Buffett-themed resort to Hollywood beach. Turns out it was a loan that became a grant between an earlier draft and final version.
Commissioner Peter Hernandez, who voted against the deal in 2013, is not one of the defenders.
“Pandora’s box is being opened with this,” Hernandez told the Sun Sentinel. “It didn’t make financial sense for the city at the time and it doesn’t make any sense today.”
Hollywood is getting its investment back through yearly rent payments and property taxes, say defenders of the deal.
Mayor Josh Levy said he looked forward to bringing the controversy to a close.
“The city made no giveaway,” he told the Sun Sentinel after the meeting. “It was a $28 million investment that will be yielding the city hundreds of millions of dollars in rent and property taxes over the next 99 years.”
The 349-room, 17-story resort opened in 2015 on 5 acres of city-owned land at Johnson Street and the Broadwalk.
“I’m not as excited as some of my colleagues about the deal that went through,” Hernandez said. “I’ve been watching the tapes [of prior public meetings]. And I see a lot of smoke and mirrors. We owe it to the residents to protect their money.”
Hollywood officials are reviewing documents to determine whether the city is owed any money from the sale, the city manager said.
Hernandez said Wednesday it looks like the developer made a profit of $111 million when he sold the property.
In a recent interview, Tabatchnick told the Sun Sentinel he did make a profit on the deal, but declined to give details.
Taxpayers kicked in $28 million to bring the Jimmy Buffett-themed resort to Hollywood. Turns out it was a loan that became a grant between an earlier draft and final version.
Hollywood commissioner Peter Hernandez, who voted against the deal in 2013, was not among those defending the deal Wednesday night. “Pandora’s box is being opened with this,” Hernandez said. “It didn’t make financial sense for the city at the time and...