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Hollywood Commissioner Wants Professional Academy at Troubled Downtown Site

Here's a radical idea: Maybe it's not so wise to build another condo high-rise in downtown Hollywood. We told you this morning about the uncertain future of the site where the HART structure was to rise, and then the ArtsPark Village, which was foreclosed last month.

These were rotten deals that promised the developer a windfall of the tax revenue the project generated. Now Commissioner Patty Asseff is thinking outside-the-condo. She told Juice today that she's talking to two prominent hotel chains and trying to persuade a culinary arts or hospitality academy to open up in the new development.

"It would bring a whole new demographic to the downtown -- international students," says Asseff.

Of course, in this economy, it's nearly impossible to get private financing for such a major project. But the Hollywood Beach commissioner says that the city could help a developer finance the buildings costs through Build America Bonds.

At the moment, the concept is entirely Asseff's and though she says she's talked to hotel executives and administrators for the professional academies, she has yet to broach the subject in a Hollywood Commission meeting.

Clearly, this is the kind of plan that could take a decade to come to fruition. But that still seems quicker than hoping for the kind of economic boom that would make a condo tower like ArtsPark Village worth building.

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Thomas Francis

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