After years of failure, vacant Boynton site gets sign of life


In their latest attempt to begin development of the vacant Ocean Breeze East land, Boynton Beach’s leaders have chosen an affordable housing developer with nearly 40 years of experience to construct energy-efficient apartments with an emphasis on building up the community.

The commissioners, sitting as the Community Redevelopment Agency board, listened to four companies Tuesday night present their plans for the 4.3-acre site in the low-income Heart of Boynton community and ranked Centennial Management Corp. out of Miami Lakes as the highest developer.

Centennial pitched 100-plus apartments in four three-story buildings at 700 N. Seacrest Blvd., about four blocks south of Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard. Rents for a one-bedroom, one-bath would be $363 or $728 depending on whether the resident is at 33 percent of median income or 60 percent. A 2/2 would be $436 or $874, and a 3/2 would be $498 or $1,003, according to documents.

But, there is still a lot to be negotiated:

- The financials have to be worked out. Centennial is looking at applying for 9 percent tax credits from the Florida Housing Finance Corp., but could also ask the CRA board for money. Documents submitted by Centennial show developing the site is a $25.9 million project.

- A grocery store. The board, and past boards, have long sought after a grocery store and the board would like Ocean Breeze East to include some type of retail.

- A bus stop. Will one be built outside the development?

Centennial said it will work with Merchant Strategy, a company already involved in building Town Square off Boynton Beach Boulevard, and the Boynton Beach Faith Based CDC, a nonprofit that for years has built homes for low income families in the neighborhood.

For more than a decade, developers have submitted plans to build residential space in the area only to fail. Most developers have relied on awarded tax credits but haven’t been able to secure them.

While Centennial wants to do the same, the group also came up with other financial options that include asking the CRA for incentives, which likely helped separate Centennial from the second highest-ranking group — Roundstone Development.

Roundstone’s plans were tax credits only.

Commissioner Mack McCray favored Roundstone. While McCray is a clerk at the church, he said his position didn’t affect his vote.

During their presentation, the company said it planned to give the apartments to Boynton’s St. John Missionary Baptist Church. But that was nowhere in the documents given to the CRA board, described by CRA director Mike Simon as an “abnormality.”

Commissioner Christina Romelus said she planned to vote for Roundstone, but was disappointed with their presentation.



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