breaking news

Goodman loses appeal for DUI manslaughter conviction

‘Emergencies’ could delay mega-development on N Flagler Drive


Developers can use Gov. Rick Scott’s emergency declarations to postpone projects

How could a brush fire hundreds of miles away delay a major West Palm Beach development? How could a hurricane that doesn’t hit Palm Beach County delay a project by six months? Or, a Zika virus scare in Miami?

It’s all part of the state of emergency called Florida.

Let me unravel that for you, and show how emergencies elsewhere suddenly wash up in our hometown.

READ: Former waterfront Trump Tower site: Six towers OK’d, but why no construction?

Here’s how it works:

When the city commission gives its blessings to a condo project, for example, it gives the developer a deadline to start construction. Miss that deadline and the developer would have to start over in obtaining city approvals.

As rushed as he’d be to get the project out of the ground before the market heads south and he can’t sell his condos, he’d have to resubmit applications; and spend months waiting for city staff reviews and commission meetings, and votes, all over again, all the while paying the carrying costs of holding onto land that isn’t producing a dime of profit. There’d be interest costs, insurance, security, and land-use consultants and attorneys to help shepherd the project through the process.

Now let’s say the developer’s deadline is approaching and he realizes he needs time to rethink the project. How can he extend his deadline?

READ: Twin tower downtown West Palm project ready to go?

But according to West Palm’s development services director, Rick Greene, all he needs is for Gov. Rick Scott to declare a state of emergency. That not only stops the clock on development expirations, but extends them two, four, six months or as long as the governor sees fit to extend them.

In West Palm’s North End, partners Huizenga Holdings and Related Group are approaching a December development deadline. The first of six towers, a 25-story, 132-apartment tower, was supposed to come out of the ground late last year.

Greene says they told him they’re wrestling with rising construction cost estimates and rejiggering the design to make it cheaper to build.

READ: A new West Palm waterfront? ‘Bioclimactic domes’ could be a signature

Lucky for them, Florida has been in a state of emergency.

Between the Zika virus, Hurricane Matthew and one or two other declared emergencies, the law allows the developers to stretch their deadline by months. In fact, according to Greene, they don’t need to make a decision to notify the city until June 30, and then they can add onto their deadline however many days the governor declared the emergency for. And they can even add one emergency on top of another.

Neither Related nor Huizenga officials returned my calls.

But anyone wondering why nothing’s happening at the mega-development site at 4400 N. Flagler Drive shouldn’t hold their breath. It’s an emergency.

Reader Comments ...

Next Up in Local

Compass Center says Trump’s ban ‘reinforces discrimination’
Compass Center says Trump’s ban ‘reinforces discrimination’

It didn’t take long for the Compass Community Center to respond to President Donald Trump banning transgender people in the U.S. military. “Messages like this really hurts children and adults,” said Tony Plakas, Compass’ CEO. “It reinforces discrimination.” Sabrine Pearson, a liaison for the transgender community...
LOOK: Florida man uses samurai sword to prop hood of his car
LOOK: Florida man uses samurai sword to prop hood of his car

Sometimes you just have to improvise. A photograph, posted on social media, shows a Florida man’s unique way of propping his car hood after his battery died. The tweet, posted by Tampa Bay Times writer Zachary T. Sampson, shows a car hood being held up by a samurai sword. Sampson, along with fellow Times reporter Langston Taylor...
JUST IN: Sister of couple killed in 2016 crash: ‘Justice wasn’t applied’
JUST IN: Sister of couple killed in 2016 crash: ‘Justice wasn’t applied’

It was the most the judge could do. For Patricia Da Silva, it wasn’t enough. “I feel justice wasn’t applied in the case of my sister and brother-in-law,” she said Wednesday after a judge ordered that Raymond Joseph Kelly pay $1,000 in fines for three traffic tickets and lose his license for six months for the 2016 crash west...
Man born with one arm, no legs awes and inspires St. Mary’s patients
Man born with one arm, no legs awes and inspires St. Mary’s patients

When Nick Santonastasso was born with no legs and one arm, doctors and others gave his parents a lengthy list of things he could never do. They even told them he might not survive. Now it’s 21 years later and after becoming a wrestler, a drummer and a fitness model, he has surpassed doctors’ expectations by far. Santonastasso, who spoke...
VIDEO: Viral South Florida ‘stuntman’ arrested in Dunkin’ Donuts stunt
VIDEO: Viral South Florida ‘stuntman’ arrested in Dunkin’ Donuts stunt

A “stuntman” who became famous for his theft antics on social media got arrested for one of his stunts when he filmed himself robbing a Dunkin’ Donuts in Miami Gardens.  20-year-old John Hill, known on Instagram as Boonk IG, faces charges of burglary and petit theft in the May 13 incident, NBC Miami reports. ...
More Stories