RIVIERA BEACH — Demolition began this week on the last piece of the rebirth of Riviera Beach’s Ocean Mall.
Redevelopment of the city-owned mall on Singer Island’s oceanfront has stalled for years amid foreclosure and lawsuits.
A handful of restaurants and retailers are operating at the mall now including a busy bar and restaurant, a sandwich shop and a watersports store.
After years of delays, new Ocean Mall developer Zvi Schwarzman has plans to build a restaurant-retail space in place of the aging building that formerly housed a 7-Eleven.
Under the agreement with Schwarzman, the city retains ownership of the land and the building is subject to a long-term lease.
“It’s very similar to what has been built with the difference being that there will be a balcony facing the ocean,” said Scott Evans, planning and development director for Riviera Beach’s CRA.
Ocean Mall redevelopment had been a lightning rod for criticism. Angry residents signed petitions in 2006 to repeal a city council vote giving the go-ahead on an ambitious plan: a 99-year lease and a privately financed 28-story hotel and condo complex, as well as the retail space.
A residents’ group sued the council after it refused to allow a citywide vote on hotel height and length of the lease. The city council sued the residents’ group.
Eventually, both measures went on a ballot, and voters ushered in plans for no more than a 50-year lease and a height limit of five stories.