Once again, Hallandale Beach Commissioner Keith London found himself the lone dissenter on a vote in which the gung-ho City Commission voted, under the leadership of Mayor Joy Cooper, to spend millions on a real-estate purchase without clear plans for what the property would become.
William Gjebre at Broward Bulldog has been tracking the city's land boondoggles for a while, and the most recent one involves a reported $9 million being paid to buy back some lovely land near the Golden Isles community from the walking-dead U.S. Postal Service.
The mail facility would move to a smaller space, and Hallandale would get back the land it sold to USPS for $2.5 million in 1986. The city maintained the right of first refusal should the post office choose to sell the land.
Hallandale Beach is fond of scooping up properties into a land bank, mainly through tax revenues funneled through the local Community Redevelopment Agency.
A few weeks back, Gjebre compiled a list of the city's recent purchases. They include:
- Three properties near City Hall, 7.6 acres, were purchased for $18 million in September 2007 for expansion of Bluesten Park as part of a green area in the center of the city. The total current market value: $7.6 million.
- Property on Ansin Boulevard, 2.87 acres, was purchased for $2.9 million in June 2006 for a trash transfer project that failed to get under way after northwest section residents objected to the facility. Excess city vehicles are being stored on the land. The current value: $1.1 million.
- Four parcels in the 500 block of NW First Avenue and nearby North Dixie Highway, totaling just over one acre, were purchased for a total of $2.1 million in 2006 for revitalization in the city's northwest area. The current value is $333,600.
- The property at 800 NE Fifth St., one-third of an acre, was purchased for $450,000 in December 2007. It was developed as Sunrise Park. The current market value is $185,000.
In addition, the city paid $1.2 million to former U.S. Congressman Peter Deutsch recently to keep him and his partners from building a controversial Jewish charter school.
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As usual, Commissioner London is the only one asking whether the city can really afford to keep buying property (actually, he says it can't). He also criticizes Cooper and his fellow commissioners for not having a plan for the acquired properties.
In response, Cooper called detractors of the deals "naysayers," referencing several missed opportunities to buy fancy waterfront property that would, supposedly, have increased in value.