5 questions with DDA chairman Mark Denkler

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1. First, tell us a bit about yourself, your job and how long you have been a part of the DDA.
I am a third generation owner of Vince Canning Shoes which opened in 1952 and remains in the same location on East Atlantic Avenue today. In February of 2015 we purchased Tootsies Shoes also on East Atlantic Ave. I have been visiting family in Delray Beach since 1970 and became a full time resident 22 years ago. We have raised our two children here, my daughter will be a sophomore at FSU and my son works for a financial services firm on Atlantic Ave. I have been involved with the DDA for 22 years, as a board member since December 2014, and Chairman since August 2015 and indirectly through the Atlantic Avenue Association and the Delray Beach Joint Venture.
2. What is the best part about working and serving downtown Delray?
The best part about working Downtown is it is the center of the town. While the beach is its own attraction, Downtown is the heart and soul of Delray where its residents come for shopping, dining and entertainment. As a DDA Board Member I serve the Downtown through our main functions including Economic Vitality, Placemaking(enhancing the physical space) and Marketing.
3. What is the No. 1 issue downtown right now? Tell us about it and what is being done to help.
All issues are opportunities! We have become “the” place to be, live and play. Downtown has seen tremendous growth: property values doubling in five years; retail and restaurant businesses sales volume increasing by 35.4 percent from 2008-2013; the influx of apparel/fashion retail stores; high end dining destination, etc. But with growth does come challenges. The DDA is aware of how important maintaining the balance of our 93 percent small businesses being successful is with the continued need for economic development, and a clean, safe and fun area for our community. With this comes planning and the DDA will be conducting a retail and business development study to help guide realtors, property owners, and businesses in their efforts throughout Downtown. In addition the DDA has been working with all City partners to develop ways to assist our small businesses through the GEAR(Grow, Expand, Attract, Retain) program.
4. If you had to plan 24 hours downtown for someone who has never been, what would you recommend?
I would recommend staying at one of our seven Downtown hotels. Wake up, and grab a coffee for an early morning visit to the beach. Walk to the Green Owl for breakfast and then shop and stroll Downtown and visit the Old School Square museum. Then grab lunch overlooking the water and then an afternoon on the beach. And for the evening, dinner at one of our great restaurants, strolling the avenue and enjoying live entertainment before heading back to the hotel.
5. One of the reasons the DDA began was to deal with traffic. How do you think the DDA is handling the topic now?
One of the DDA’s original purposes was to assist with the redevelopment of the parking and traffic planning. Over the years we have helped to facilitate land for parking and additional street signs. The City and the Parking Management Board continue to turn to the DDA to solve traffic and parking issues through the Downtown. The DDA also provides their unique insight to the City during the approval of Downtown projects regarding parking strategies. We are currently working with the City on the Downtown Employee Parking Pilot Program. The main goal is to help balance the flow of parking within the Downtown allowing for more customer parking by providing a convenient, safe, consistent parking area for Downtown employees.
What are some of the numbers downtown… how many restaurants, shops, hotels and number of visitors. Give us some statistics.
DDA Stakeholders: Stakeholders consist of over 800 property owners, over 605 businesses in operation with more than 6,000 employees, and over 2,000 residents that live within the district in both condo properties and single family homes.
District: 340 Acres, 852 Properties, 605 Businesses, 335 Residential properties, 99 City/CRA Properties, 11 Religious properties
Businesses: 153 – Professional Businesses (Insurance, legal, financial, marketing, business, contractual services) 121 – Restaurants, Cafes & Bars (includes Juice Bars, Candy/Ice Cream/Coffee shops, bakeries too) 113 – Retail & Specialty Stores/Boutiques 76 – Salon & Spas 52 – Health & Wellness (medical, therapy, acupuncture, fitness/yoga/gyms, etc.) 58 – Art & Culture (Art Galleries, Museums, Nature Centers, Theatres/Performing Arts) 25 – Fun For Everyone – (i.e. Putt’n Around Delray, Vino Van Gogh, Delray Yacht Cruises, Delray Beach Water Sports, Richwagen’s Bike & Sport Rental, PEDEGO, etc.) 7 – Hotels,