Mar­gar­i­taville give­away to get closer look

Crit­ics slam Hol­ly­wood af­ter $28 mil­lion loan be­came grant

Sun Sentinel Palm Beach Edition - - FRONT PAGE - By Su­san­nah Bryan Staff writer

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.

PHO­TOS BY CAR­LINE JEAN/STAFF PHO­TOG­RA­PHER

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...

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.