Broward News

Hollywood's New CRA Director a Political Outsider

The city of Hollywood has named a former Orlando official to lead its Community Redevelopment Agency. Tanja Gerhartz previously worked as the economic development director in Orlando. More recently, she had her own private consulting firm. If that means she's new to the South Florida political scene -- and to the lobbyist vultures who have a perch atop Hollywood City Hall -- then that will be a welcome change.

If she's judicious about doling out doling out the CRA's tax-based millions, that would be better yet. Her predecessors, Neil Fritz and Gil Martinez, were both big, reckless spenders. Fritz, who directed the city's downtown CRA district, resigned January 2. Martinez, who was in charge of spending the CRA loot in the beach district, was fired in November following revelations of nearly a half-million dollars in cost overruns for a Brazilian festival. Gerhatz will oversee both districts.

More on Gerhartz from the city's news release, after the jump.

After a nationwide search, City Manager Cameron D. Benson has named Tanja Gerhartz the new Executive Director for the Hollywood Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA). Ms. Gerhartz brings more than 25 years of local economic development and planning experience to the CRA ranging from real estate redevelopment and targeted business recruitment to negotiation of incentives and assessment of fiscal and economic impacts.

Ms. Gerhartz worked for the City of Orlando for 20 years, including serving as Economic Development Director where she supervised more than 200 employees and oversaw a $37 million budget. In this position she established auditing and monitoring functions, economic investment strategies, oversaw the largest private investment in Downtown Orlando's history, revamped the downtown marketing and events strategy and created a downtown business incubator. She is currently president of Gerhartz and Associates, a planning and economic development consulting firm based in New Smyrna Beach, Florida.

"Ms. Gerhartz brings the perfect blend of experience and expertise that is critical to moving the CRA districts forward," says City Manager Cameron Benson. "She has a proven track record of success in addressing many of the challenges currently facing CRA from retail recruitment to budgeting and economic analysis. She's ready to be an impact player right from the start."

The City received more than 145 applications from candidates across the country for this position. The Hollywood Community Redevelopment Agency was created under the authority of Florida's Community Redevelopment Act of 1969. The CRA's mission is to encourage economic development through the use of tax increment financing by funding development, special projects and services that address areas of community concern. The CRA is comprised of two districts--the Downtown District (580 acres extending from 22nd Avenue on the west to generally 17th Avenue on the east, Johnson Street on the north to Washington Street on the south) and the Beach District (approximately 293 acres from Sherman Street south to the south property line of the Westin Diplomat Resort and Spa, and from the Intracoastal Waterway east to the Atlantic Ocean).

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Thomas Francis