By: Christina Morrison Special to the Boca and Delray newspapers
The old Library property and building, located on SE 4th Avenue just south of Atlantic Avenue, has been sitting vacant for over 10 years now. It is a boarded-up, rotting eyesore in the heart of our downtown.
In 2013, after the original developer abandoned their proposed plan for a hotel on the property, the Delray Beach CRA awarded an Agreement to Purchase the property to Delray Beach Holdings, LLC which submitted plans to build an iPic Theatre, office building with grade-level retail space, and parking on the old library site and the adjoining previous Chamber of Commerce site fronting on SE 5th Avenue (southbound Federal Highway.) The CRA had been instructed to issue an RFP and solicit proposals for the development of this site by the City Commission. Several proposals were received and the IPIC et al project was selected. As part of this project, iPic agreed to move their corporate headquarters onto the property – a coup for our City since iPic is a very well-regarded, innovative and forward-thinking organization that will benefit our City by providing good-paying jobs and add to the economic vitality of our downtown, especially in the quiet summer months.
Since 2013, there have been a series of hearings, meetings, and several changes to the original RFP requirements – changes dictated by the City Commissioners. This has resulted in various stop/starts on this important project which persisted until May 16 of this year, when the land purchase from the CRA to the iPic developer finally closed.
Although not perfect, the iPic project is bringing lots of great things to Delray Beach, including:
*$3.6 Million in revenue for the purchase of the property, as per the contract signed in 2013. This price was, at that time, $700,000 over the then-appraised value of $2.9 Million;
* iPic movie theatres – some of the most innovative entertainment and meeting venues in the country;
* 44,000 square feet of class A office space, which is sorely needed, and reportedly in great demand, in our downtown;
* 7,500 square feet of retail space off of Atlantic Avenue – perfect for some of our local business that cannot afford the Atlantic Avenue rents;
* 325+ total parking spaces, including 90 dedicated public parking spaces, which the City will meter and from which the City will collect the revenue, which is estimated at $150,000 per year;
* 290+ jobs in the theatre, offices, and retail areas;
* $1 Million in estimated sales tax revenue annually;
* $400,000+ in real estate tax revenue to the City and CRA in just the first of operation;
* Close to $1 Million in annual employee spending revenue for our downtown businesses;
* Economic and entertainment diversity for our downtown which is currently heavily-dependent on restaurants and bars;
* Peak economic activity during the summer months, when it is needed;
* A family-friendly entertainment option for our community; and
* A Corporate Headquarters for a nationally-recognized business.
Other cities have welcomed iPic theatres with open arms – and checkbooks.
Most walkable downtowns have multiple entertainment venues, including movie theatres, for residents and visitors to enjoy, and now so will Delray Beach – hopefully by sometime late in 2018, when the property will be beautiful, fully-functional and tax generating. Truly a win-win!
Also, after almost a year of construction, the NEW Green Owl re-opened in May. Located on SE 4th Avenue, just south of Atlantic, this new venue is brand new and beautiful. If you haven’t done so already, please stop by and see Dave and his family and welcome them back. Thanks to the Menin Development Group for making this happen and persevering to keep the Green Owl in our downtown.