RIVIERA BEACH — Riviera Beach is shopping for a new development partner after the City Council unanimously voted Wednesday night to cut ties with the private developer of a planned $375 million waterfront project.
Nearly two years after Viking Developers and the city’s Community Redevelopment Agency announced the massive mixed-use project, Marina Village, city officials chafed that Viking Developers has built nothing so far. The city and the developer have bickered about leasing, land swaps, parking and building height.
“We just couldn’t come to terms,” said Councilwoman Dawn Pardo. “We’ve been negotiating various terms with Viking since 2005, and it just came to the point where we could no longer wait.”
Meeting as the Community Redevelopment Agency, the City Council entertained a motion to end Riviera Beach’s development agreement with the city. Before the vote could be taken, Viking Developers offered to resign.
“This allows us to reset expectations,” said Tony Brown, executive director of the Community Redevelopment Agency. With the city’s long-time partner out of the picture, Riviera Beach will solicit proposals from other developers.
Pardo, chairwoman of the Community Redevelopment Agency, said the city aims to move quickly. Wait too long, and the city could squander a real estate boom.
“We just can’t afford to do that once again,” Pardo said.
Robert Healey Sr., chief executive and chairman of Viking Developers, couldn’t be reached for comment Thursday. He told the Palm Beach Post this week that the company has spent $2 million to $3 million on design work and lawyers.
“We have been accused of dragging our feet by some of the people in the city, the CRA,” Healey said. “We have been trying for the last two years to bring this thing to fruition.”
Pardo said that sum pales in comparison with the $30 million in public spending the city has invested to spark the project. “We did that to show our commitment,” Pardo said.
Pardo recalled traveling to New Jersey to visit apartment projects developed by the real estate arm of the company perhaps better known for building yachts.
“They make an excellent boat — probably the finest yacht in the world,” Par-do said.
The latest efforts for redeveloping Riviera’s waterfront began in March 2014, as the city’s voters approved a charter amendment allowing for private development at the marina. Viking was selected as the master developer in 2005.
By Jeff Ostrowski Palm Beach Post