You have reached your limit of free articles this month.

Enjoy unlimited access to

Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks.


  • ePAPER

You have read of premium articles.

Get unlimited access to all of our breaking news, in-depth coverage and bonus content- exclusively for subscribers. Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks


Welcome to

This subscriber-only site gives you exclusive access to breaking news, in-depth coverage, exclusive interactives and bonus content.

You can read free articles of your choice a month that are only available on

‘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

NEW: Martin, state authorities investigating death of month-old girl
NEW: Martin, state authorities investigating death of month-old girl

Martin County and state authorities are investigating the death of a month-old girl that occurred Wednesday at a home in Jensen Beach. The child’s parents took her to Martin Memorial Hospital North in Stuart after she was found unresponsive, the Martin County Sheriff’s Office said. Doctors attempted to save her life but could not revive...
NEW: Girl, 3, struck by car in Tequesta, flown to hospital
NEW: Girl, 3, struck by car in Tequesta, flown to hospital

A 3-year-old girl was flown to St. Mary’s Medical Center late Friday after a vehicle backed into her, Tequesta Fire Rescue reports. The incident happened at about about 5:45 p.m. on the 100 block of Magnolia Way, south of County Line Road and east of Riverside Drive. The girl was awake and alert when paramedics arrived at the scene, Fire Rescue...
What happened to Isabella? Agencies probe mystery of missing woman
What happened to Isabella? Agencies probe mystery of missing woman

On Tuesday night, a neighbor watched out the window of her condo west of the city as official-looking men wearing powder-blue latex gloves searched Lewis Bennett’s car and questioned him as he stood nearby. Neighbors say they last saw Isabella Hellmann weeks before Bennett, her newlywed husband, says he left with her on a two-week romantic sailing...
NEW: Florida woman accused of paying child to have sex with her
NEW: Florida woman accused of paying child to have sex with her

A Port St. Lucie woman is accused of paying a child under the age of 15 up to $300 for sexual encounters, city police said. Rebecca McGraw, 38, was arrested on Thursday and is facing five counts of unlawful sexual activity with a minor under the age of 15 by an adult, police say. She admitted to at least five sexual acts with the victim. McGraw remained...
VIDEO: Man wanders around Miami airport naked
VIDEO: Man wanders around Miami airport naked

A man was caught on camera wandering around Miami International Airport naked on Friday.  Someone filmed the incident on their phone and posted it to Twitter, showing the man walking around the terminal wearing only black socks as he waved to people walking by. A woman told WPLG that she saw the man starting to take his shirt off and she ...
More Stories