Six firms have applied to take over the work of West Palm Beach’s Community Redevelopment Agency, the city said following Friday afternoon’s deadline.
The six include Redevelopment Management Associates, the Broward County firm owned by Kim Briesemeister, who was CRA director from 2004 until she resigned Aug. 26, saying she intended to apply and wanted to avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest.
Since 2009, Briesemeister had both run RMA and spent 28 hours a week at the West Palm Beach CRA.
Besides RMA, the other applicants are: CH2MHill, Global Business Development Center, Kennedy Wilson, Special District Services and The Urban Group.
A panel of city and outside people will rank the companies. There’s no immediate timetable for a decision but the city is expected to say as early as Monday what its next steps will be.
The CRA, which has a $28 million budget, oversees redevelopment in the city, from improving roads and parking, to paving the way for housing and new businesses, in specific neighborhoods. Among its bigger projects in recent years: the library and garage for the new City Hall complex, the $30 million redesign of the downtown waterfront, and various projects to revitalize Northwood Village.
Briesemeister, reached late Friday, declined to comment.
CH2MHill, with 30,000 employees in more than 200 offices around the world, is the largest of the six firms. It would run the West Palm Beach CRA from its Palm Beach Gardens office, said Jon Mantay, regional operations director for Florida and Georgia. The firm “has significant experience in both community developments and redevelopments,” Mantay said from the Atlanta area.
Palm Beach Gardens-based Special District Services Inc. with a staff of 17, would propose installing as the CRA director a familiar face: Jamie Titcomb, who’s been a Boynton Beach city commissioner, Palm Beach County League of Cities president and North Palm Beach village manager.
Urban Group, based in Fort Lauderdale, manages projects throughout the state and is “an appropriate firm to manage the CRA and make some changes,” principal Howard Steinholz said.
Representatives could not be reached from Delray Beach-based Global Business Development Center. A spokeswoman from Southern California-based Kennedy Wilson, which has offices in 23 offices worldwide, including Jacksonville, declined to comment.
The City Commission voted Aug. 12 to issue the “request for qualifications” to run the agency. Ten firms attended a Sept. 18 “informational session.”
Mayor Jeri Muoio has said that hiring a private company might cost more in the long run but would make the city more “agile” and let the city avoid having full-time employees for the work or bringing in one-time contractors for short-term projects.
“I know we have our naysayers,” Muoio said Sept. 4. “A year from now, we’re going to be saying it’s the best thing we ever did.”
Muoio also insisted that she hadn’t already decided on Briesemeister’s firm.
“If she’s the best person for the job, she should get the job,” the mayor said. “If I can find someone better than Ms. Briesemeister, that’s what we’ll do.”