By: Marisa Herman Associate Editor
The lowest bidder became the No. 1 choice for the Delray Beach Community Redevelopment Agency board when it selected a project to fill 6 acres of land on West Atlantic Avenue.
With plans to add rental housing, restaurants, office space and a grocery store to the site, board members selected BH3 and its proposal Alta West as the winning project.
It was a tight 4-3 vote to proceed with BH3 over four other proposals.
“The CRA board selected us because we are the best project that met the city’s goals, needs and wants,” said attorney for the project Neil Schiller. “This is a project that is for the community by the community.”
Board members Shelly Petrolia, Pam Brinson and Angie Gray cast the dissenting votes.
The project that came in second when ranked by the board was Uptown Atlantic.
Uptown currently has several development approvals from the city, but different developers behind the project. It offered the least amount of housing units, parking and green space. It also was the only project offering 4 stories rather than the requested 3-story cap in the new request for proposals sent out by the agency when the previous owners of Uptown Atlantic failed to close on the property.
The winning proposal came in last in terms of how much money BH3 was willing to spend to acquire the land at $10. The highest proposal offered just over $4 million.
BH3 estimates the land will be valued at over $22 million when the project is completed.
The last time the project was up for consideration with Uptown as the winner, residents slammed the board for considering selling the land for just over $1 million when estimates valued the land at $17 million.
BH3 originally stated it would apply for nearly $14 million from the CRA in subsidies, but Schiller said that is now off the table.
The decision didn’t come without controversy. There was a vote and then a revote, which resulted in two board members switching their position on what project to pick. At a subsequent meeting, Mayor Shelly Petrolia raised concerns over the selection and asked if the agency could be sued.
Agency attorneys said they do no have any concern over the meeting’s proceedings.
Aspects of the BH3 project the board did like included providing an abundance of parking over what is required by city code. The project incorporates 744 parking spaces in three structured parking garages throughout the site, which is more than 200 spaces above any other proposal.
Mayor Shelly Petrolia said the parking helped her decide to rank the project as her second choice.
Schiller said the amount of parking spaces will help capture drivers as they head further east.
Another perk was the group’s ability to offer 18 workforce housing units as early as July 1 in property it owns just adjacent to the project location at 11 SW 6th Ave. and 21 SW 6th Ave.
Once the project is built, it will incorporate another 12 workforce housing units into the mixture of townhomes, 1-bedroom and 2 bedroom units.
The project is designed by Richard Jones Architecture and features a mainstreet, coastal vernacular style.
Most of all, board members liked the 40,000-square-feet of public, open space that incorporates historic Frog Alley into the project.
“We view this as an opportunity for people to meet, enjoy each others history and cultures,” Schiller said of the open space.
It was the Frog Alley aspect that sold the deal to board member Adam Frankel. He said he ranked BH3 as his No. 1 pick.
BH3 said it will use a minimum of six local subcontractors and vendors and hire a minimum of 30 skilled and unskilled workers for construction jobs. It will host at least two job fairs.
Sprouts Farmers Market and Aldi have expressed interest in the project, as a grocery store is a required element.
Agency attorneys are in a 60-day negotiation period with the developers. The terms of the deal will go before the board for approval.
If approved, the project will then go through the city’s review process, including site plan approval.
“We are excited to get started,” Schiller said.