New Café Brews up excitement at Riviera Beach Marina Village

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RIVIERA BEACH, Fla. (July 18, 2016) – The Riviera Beach Community Redevelopment Agenda (CRA) announces the signing of its first tenant for the Marina Event Center at Riviera Beach Marina Village.  Last Wednesday night, the CRA Board of Commissioners approved a lease for the Rafiki Tiki, to be owned and operated by longtime Riviera Beach business owner, Demetri Solloum.

“It has been our goal from the beginning of this project to provide opportunities for Riviera Beach residents and business owners, and we welcome Mr. Solloum to Marina Village with great enthusiasm,” said Tony Brown, Executive Director of the Riviera Beach CRA.  “We have created a spectacular waterfront destination, and this new establishment will give visitors one more reason to come by and see what we’ve accomplished.”

Buildout of Rafiki Tiki will begin promptly with opening expected in fall 2016. The operation includes 1,047 sq. ft. of interior space and 1,591 sq. ft. of patio space, allowing outdoor dining near the Intracoastal Waterway.  The café will be open morning through evening seven days a week, and will provide a relaxed vacation-like atmosphere with cool colors, fresh flowers, live music and tropical drinks.  The menu will be inspired by Mediterranean and South Florida influences with a wide variety of international and vegetarian options.

“I’ve been in business in Riviera Beach for more than 25 years, and I can clearly see what this new vision for the Riviera Beach Marina Village will do for this city,” said Solloum.

The first phase of Riviera Beach Marina Village was recently completed with a public investment of $35 million. Highlights include the two-story Marina Event Center and a re-imagined Bicentennial Park.  Future plans include a waterfront restaurant row, shops and a permanent year-round Public Market. Riviera Beach Marina Village is located at 190 E. 13th St.  You can find out more by visiting www.rbcra.com or by calling 561-844-3408.

Riviera Beach Marina Village Redevelopment Exceeds Workforce Development Goals

From the onset of planning for the new Riviera Beach Marina Village, recruiting and supporting local, minority and small business involvement was a critical component. The $39 million dollar redevelopment would provide dozens of opportunities for small businesses and we were determined to help our general contractor partnership of The Weitz Company, D. Stephenson Construction and Clearspan Structures meet those goals.

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Our recruitment efforts started with the Marina Development Accountability Summit in May of 2014, where we outlined our goals and how they would be measured, and detailed the process for contractors to participate in bidding. Outreach efforts included mailings to small businesses and minority contractors in Palm Beach County, notices posted online on the CRA and City of Riviera Beach web sites, and email notifications to the Palm Beach County Small Business Database.

In addition, in order to teach valuable skills to our next generation, we implemented an apprenticeship program, requiring that one out of every five people working on the marina transformation be a designated apprentice. The CRA’s construction partners also hosted a jobs skills and interview preparation training session to help potential workers make the most of this opportunity.

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Now, with the transformation of our marina nearly complete, we can tell you we not only met our goals but exceeded them. With a SBE participation rate of 47 percent, nearly half of all contracts were awarded to small businesses. The participation rate for M/WBE is 19.56 percent, and local participation stands at 30.96 percent.

The local participation rate is especially noteworthy, with Riviera Beach-based businesses winning 30 percent of the work, far exceeding the goal of 15 percent. Those numbers translate into nearly $7 million dollars of investment right back into our community. Gilbane, our “owner’s rep” for the project, reports that 38 apprentices took part in the project, 17 of whom came from Riviera Beach. In addition, they report that 20 percent of all construction work was completed by Riviera Beach residents.

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We take great pride in debuting this spectacular waterfront destination for our residents, and with each visit they can view the handiwork created by their family and friends.

Tony T. Brown

Executive Director, Riviera Beach Community Redevelopment Association

Here are the 13 Riviera Beach based firms participating on the Riviera Beach Marina Village project as subcontractors:

• ESC Florida

• Baron Signs

• JD Anderson

• All Sites

• Newbold Construction

• General Caulking and Waterproofing

• Lotspeich Company of Florida

• Division 7

• Cheney Brothers

• Glasgow

• Thyssen Krupp

• Farmer & Irwin

• Pipeline Utilities

 

It’s built to make a splash

Riviera Beach — In the 1920s Riviera Beach was a quaint fishing village. Today it’s still home to marine-oriented businesses — Cracker Boy Boat Works, the city’s marina, Albury Brothers Boats and others — and activities such deep sea fishing and scuba diving.

The marine-centric past and present remains the focus as city officials hope to raise Riviera Beach’s profile with its new Marina Event Center, scheduled to open in May. It’s a key cornerstone for revitalization in a city with a high share of low income neighborhoods juxtaposed against wealthy Singer Island.

Riviera Beach’s new Marina Event Center, park set to open in May photo
The two-story sea-foam blue state-of-the-art facility with large and small banquet and meeting rooms overlooks the Intracoastal Waterway and the bustling 111-slip marina. Located at the foot of East 13th Street south of Blue Heron Boulevard, the 36,488-square-foot building will also eventually include a two-story restaurant, cafe and the first-ever display of Riviera Beach’s history.

“We feel we have the best waterfront property in the county,” Tony Brown, executive director, Riviera Beach Community Redevelopment Agency said while standing on the expansive promenade, four feet above the docks. “What has made it popular is that you can get this close to the water.”

It’s a waterfront packed with the excitement of watching recreational boats and yachts, Peanut Island, the Blue Heron Bridge to the north, and cruise ships and other large ocean-going commercial vessels at the Port of Palm Beach to the south.

The $35 million project, funded two-thirds by the CRA and one-third by the city, is a complete re-do of the property, Brown said. The event center, with its high-end finishes, beige tile floors with multi-colored decorative inserts, a stairway with glass panels and a cupola with a lighted contemporary sculpture and skylights, is the showy centerpiece of the property officially known as the Riviera Beach Marina Village.

“Riviera Beach Marina Village is a testament to the progress being made in our city,” said Riviera Beach Council and CRA Board Chair Dawn Pardo. “It will change perceptions about Riviera Beach, and give people a new reason to visit our waterfront.”

Last week the city cuncil approved a three-year contract with Loggerhead Marina, a subsidiary of Seven Kings Holdings, to operate the marina.

The CRA plans to issue a request for proposals in the next few months from private developers for projects on CRA-owned property.

In December the CRA cuts its ties with Viking Developers, which in 2006 was selected as master developer for the mixed-use project. Viking wanted to bow out after it disagreed with the CRA on issues such as leasing, parking, land swaps, timing and building height.

However, recently Viking and the CRA swapped some land so the CRA can provide surface parking at the site. The CRA is also leasing the former Yachtsman motel site from Viking for parking.

In addition to the restaurant and cafe anticipated inside the event center, plans call for five restaurants to occupy a “Restaurant Row” facing the waterfront.

The center’s 4,800-square-foot ballroom, named Newcomb Hall after the demolished previous one-story facility built in 1959 will be available for events for $2,000 for eight hours to non-residents. A wedding is already booked in May, as well as approximately 70 other events and meetings through 2017, said Mark Blomeke, marina facilities operations manager. He previously worked as director of audio visual services and as a conference manager at The Breakers, Palm Beach.

Wednesday, several dozen workers were putting the finishing touches on the event center and grounds. A Bobcat outfitted with a wide broom was being used to push gravel between the pavers on the promenade.

Some of the 700-plus trees, including Medjool and Royal palms, were being installed. At Bicentennial Park, 24,000-square-feet of hardy Bermuda grass is in place in anticipation of upcoming concerts and other events. Surveillance cameras and wi-fi will also be operating throughout the property, which will have 24-hour security patrols, Blomeke said.

The park will feature a children’s splash park with 42 water jets — 40 of them with lights — shade sails, restrooms and eventually, a concessions stand. There’s even a half-acre sandy beach designed for “family fun” with kayaks, jet skis and other water craft available for rent.

Mark Lucier, general superintendent of Sanford-based Freeport Fountains, said his company has installed splash parks all over the country, including those at Disney World and the Palm Beach Zoo in West Palm Beach. The jets at the Riviera Beach park will shoot five and a half feet into the air. The water will be filtered and recycled and can also be heated. The computerized system can be controlled via a laptop.

Surface parking will be free, but in years to come, once a garage is built, there will be parking fees.

The 23-acre site’s development is expected to take about 10 years. Viking officials have said they expect to develop rental apartments or condominiums on land the company owns along Broadway. There are also plans for a marine business office building and a hotel.

The vision begun with Montreal-based consultant LiveWorkLearnPlay’s advice that the waterfront must be re-done correctly or that Viking’s land would become worthless, is being carried forward today, Brown said.

West Palm Beach-based Song + Associates Architects designed the Key West-style exterior and the interior. Construction partners include The Weitz Co., D. Stephenson Construction and Clearspan Structures.

The marina is intended to be a catalyst for the redevelopment of the Broadway corridor.

“We wanted to create a great project and work on re-branding our image,” Brown said.

By Susan Salisbury, Palm Beach Post

Hundreds celebrate ribbon-cutting to launch Riviera Beach Marina Village

 Click here to see event photos

More than 250 Riviera Beach residents, elected officials and business leaders from throughout northern and central Palm Beach County gathered yesterday to celebrate the ribbon-cutting for the public improvements at the city’s municipal marina. The public portion of the marina redevelopment totals an investment of $35 million, and is led by the Riviera Beach Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA).

Combined with future private development, the revitalized marina investment is expected to exceed $375 million.  Now officially known as the Riviera Beach Marina Village, the 23-acre property features the new, two-story Marina Event Center, a reimagined Bicentennial Park, plus parking and infrastructure improvements.

Designed to become a significant visitor destination, the new Marina Village offers a wide variety of fishing and watersports, and will soon feature restaurants, shops and other amenities.  The goal is to create a vibrant, relaxed destination for visitors and residents alike in a spectacular waterfront location unmatched anywhere in Palm Beach County.

“As it develops further, Riviera Beach Marina Village is going to be the living room of our city – a showcase that will attract a wide range of visitors from Palm Beach County and beyond,” said Tony Brown, Executive Director of the Riviera Beach CRA. “Interest in ecotourism and water activities increases each year, and we offer visitors a range of experiences to connect them to nature above and below the waves; from scuba diving to deep-sea fishing, snorkeling, paddleboarding and kayaking, all in a spectacular setting overlooking the Intracoastal Waterway, Peanut Island and Singer Island.”

The new Riviera Beach Marina Event Center will be officially open to the public in April, but dozens of guests yesterday toured its two levels and marveled at the expansive ocean and Intracoastal views from the second-story patio. It offers large and small banquet and meetings rooms, a two-story restaurant, a café, and what will be the first-ever permanent display of Riviera Beach’s history.   The project also includes a $4 million dollar makeover of Bicentennial Park including the addition of a new pavilion, interactive splash fountain and plenty of green space for open-air events and concerts.

“This is an achievement our city council can point to with great pride,” said Dawn Pardo, Riviera Beach City Council Chair. “We are grateful to Viking Developers for inspiring this vision.  Now that we have forged ahead with the public development, we will begin implementing private development in phases, starting with five restaurants and requests for proposals on other City and CRA owned lands.  We remain confident that this important new addition to the city’s amenities will spark prosperity and economic development throughout our city.”

“An investment such as this beautiful Marina Event Center right on the water makes a significant impact on the region as well,” said Beth Kigel, President of the Northern Palm Beach County Chamber of Commerce. “It demonstrates real commitment on the part of the city and CRA that the economic course is set and moving forward. We say bravo to all who made this happen.”

A formal grand opening event for the public will be held in May 2016. Future plans include a waterfront “Restaurant Row,” a permanent free-standing Public Market, and a mixed use facility that would include a hotel, parking, offices and retail shops.

Riviera Beach Marina Village came to fruition thanks to support from a wide variety of partners including the Riviera Beach Community Redevelopment Agency, the City of Riviera Beach, Viking Developers, Palm Beach County, and lending partners at BB&T Bank, Key Bank, and the National Development Council.

Small and Minority Business Enterprise goals for this project exceeded expectations thanks to the diligent effort of construction partners The Weitz Company, D. Stephenson Construction and Clearspan Structures.  Acting as the owner’s representative, the Gilbane-CSI-RDBG partnership reports contracts for this project totaled 47.07-percent SBE, 19.56-percent MWBE, and 30.96-percent local (Riviera Beach) participation.  Architects Song + Associates provided updated designs and improvements all through the construction process.

For more information, contact the Riviera Beach Community Redevelopment Agency at www.rbcra.com or 561-844-3408.

A Year in Forward Gear

2015 ends as a great year for the CRA.  The Riviera Beach CRA has accomplished so much over the past 12 months, and for this, I thank the CRA Board for entrusting us with the resources to make a difference for our communities.  I also thank my staff for their hard work and dedication.  The final stages of the Marina’s infrastructure work is just about done, and our spectacular new Marina Event Center will open in the spring – mark your calendars for the Ribbon Cutting on February 25, 2016. That’s only a few shorts months away from opening the earliest phase of a new Marina that will showcase our spectacular waterfront and create new reasons for residents and visitors alike to make the Marina a regular destination.

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In December, the CRA, in cooperation with the Riviera Beach Community Development Corporation, also launched the Riviera Beach Renaissance program, breaking ground on the first of five new affordable homes in Park Manor. 

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Our Riviera Beach Heights Improvement Plan is also in full swing.  The Community Garden is open and producing fresh, healthy food for local families.  Construction on the Linear Park and Health Trail is underway, and the community-wide sidewalk improvement program is nearly completed.  All the feedback from appreciative residents is certainly very gratifying.  

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In December, the CRA Board of Commissioners ended our 10-year relationship with Viking as Master Developer of the Riviera Beach Marina.  The city and the CRA have worked closely with Viking and we thank them for inspiring the vision that has resulted in our $35 million makeover of the Marina.  We still have much more to do together.  Stay tuned! We will introduce new plans to the CRA Board in January that will transform publicly-owned properties along Broadway into new developments along the Broadway corridor. We are looking forward to 2016 being an even better year! 

So here’s to a tumultuous, spectacular, crazy year that delivered significant dividends for our city and put us on a path to success.

Happy New Year!

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Riviera Beach CRA accepts Viking withdrawal as marina Master Developer

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RIVIERA BEACH, Fla. (Dec. 11, 2015) – The Riviera Beach Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA) Board of Commissioners on Wednesday night voted 5-0 to accept Viking Developers’ withdrawal as Master Developer of the Riviera Beach Marina. The CRA and Viking spent 10 years developing and readjusting the vision for a $375 million marina transformation. The City and CRA have already invested $35 million in public funds into the project, and the Marina Event Center will open this spring.

“The CRA will continue to work with Viking as one of the landowners at the marina. We enjoy mutual respect and will cooperate with each other’s plans and timelines,” said Tony Brown, Executive Director of the Riviera Beach CRA.  “Viking is an exceptional corporate citizen and has done so much for our community in Riviera Beach.”

The Riviera Beach Marina is currently undergoing a $35 million, publicly-funded transformation, which includes a two-story Marina Event Center and a reimagined Bicentennial Park.  This public investment is intended to spur private development in and around the marina, eventually spreading out to Broadway and beyond. Future plans include a waterfront “Restaurant Row,” a Public Market, retail shops, offices, a hotel and more.

The CRA Board directed staff to develop a plan for parking to ensure that private development at the Marina will continue. The city and CRA will begin discussions with potential new partners for the private development of publicly-owned properties along Broadway now that public improvements at the marina are nearly complete. 

The marina is currently home to a wide variety of recreation activities including scuba diving, snorkeling, paddleboarding, kayaking, deep-sea fishing and sightseeing charters among others. The transformation of the Riviera Beach Marina will create a vibrant and authentic destination for both visitors and residents.

Commercial real estate broker CBRE is in the process of identifying potential restaurant tenants for restaurant row.  The Public Market is in design phase and the CRA is applying for New Market Tax Credits to assist with funding construction.

For more information about Riviera Beach Community Redevelopment Agency projects, please visit www.rbcra.com or call 561-844-3408.

Riviera Beach CRA wins statewide award for 2014 Annual Report

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RIVIERA BEACH, Fla. (Oct. 28, 2015) – The Riviera Beach Community Redevelopment Agency’s Fiscal Year 2014 Annual Report was named as the best in the state by the Florida Redevelopment Association at its annual 2014 Roy F. Kenzie Award ceremony in Tampa.  The Annual Report details the CRA’s accomplishments in 2014 as “A “Groundbreaking Year,” including the commencement of construction to transform the Riviera Beach Marina, a series of improvement and beautification projects in the Riviera Beach Heights neighborhood, and the launch of the Clean and Safe Ambassador Program.

“It’s an honor to see the accounting of our successes receive such a noteworthy award,” said Tony Brown, Executive Director of the Riviera Beach CRA. “Many of these projects we’ve been planning for a long time, and 2014 was the year where all the pieces of the puzzle started coming together.”

Designed by the O’Donnell Agency in West Palm Beach, the Annual Report shows a community “Growing Strong” through partnerships created between businesses, residents and non-profit agencies, and shows stakeholders how these partnerships are improving outcomes for the next generation of Riviera Beach residents.  The use of a flower design on the cover paints a picture of the growth underway throughout the CRA District and the pictures indicate the beneficiaries of that growth. 

The 2014 Annual Report can be viewed at www.rbcra.com/annual-report/

Riviera Beach considers $35M hotel with mixed use at marina

Viking Developers will go before the Riviera Beach Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA) on Sept. 23 seeking design approval and partial public ownership for its $35 million project. The marina is already in the midst of a $375 million redevelopment that will include shops, restaurants, a boardwalk promenade and boat slips. The city is trying to raise funds for a 50,000-square-foot market for local produce and wares.

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The potential new addition would be a six-story building with 37,600 square feet of commercial space, 66 hotel rooms and 751 parking spaces. The developer asked the CRA to secure financing to support the $15 million parking deck and place ownership in public hands, since the parking would serve the entire site. Viking Developers estimated the $282,000 in tax increment revenue generated annually for the CRA from the privately-owned portion of the site would be enough to support debt payments on the parking deck.

The building would include 66 hotel rooms, 21,200 square feet of retail space, 750 square feet of office space and a fitness center. It would also have a 5,000-square-foot restaurant, a sky bar and a pool on the top floor.

Riviera Beach is a working class city north of West Palm Beach. It’s counting on the marina redevelopment to boost tourism and job creation.

 

-Brian Bandell

Riviera Beach memorabilia sought for permanent exhibit

­Every picture tells a story. And in Riviera Beach, those tales are more important than ever.

That’s because the Community Redevelopment Agency is organizing an exhibit replete with photos and other memorabilia that will showcase the city’s history. The permanent display will have a prominent spot in the Marina Event Center at the Riviera Beach Marina, which is under construction (the 36,488-square-foot waterfront facility will include a grand ballroom, meeting rooms and a two-story restaurant and a café).

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An artist’s rendering of the interior of the Marine Event Center, which is under construction at the Riviera Beach Marina.

“Our goal is to provide a dynamic and engaging history of Riviera Beach so that residents and visitors will see the rich and significant history of the city and its contributions to Palm Beach County,” explains Annetta Jenkins, the CRA’s director of Neighborhood Services. “We’ll detail the significant contributions the people of Riviera Beach have made to our area, and the uniqueness and diversity of our community.”

They’re seeking pictures, memorabilia and other documents that offer a glimpse into the city’s unique past – anything highlighting the history of people, businesses, churches, schools, government, social events, weather and other accomplishments. An all-day open house at the CRA office is scheduled for Saturday for people to bring in items – including photos, brochures, and souvenirs – to be donated, loaned or scanned and returned for the first-of-its-kind exhibit.

“Having everything we collect on display in the newest building in the city will be a proud moment for the families of those individuals, those businesses and those leaders who helped shape the City of Riviera Beach into what it is today and where it is heading tomorrow,” notes George F. (Chip) Lubeck III, broker/owner One World Realty, Inc. and a project volunteer. “The City of Riviera Beach has unfortunately carried a stigma of being an unsafe area for the last several decades. The fact that there is a lot of history here never makes it to the surface and we want people to be surprised that there is a lot to be proud of being a resident and lots of reasons to come here as a visitor.”

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An artist’s rendering of the long hallway at the Marine Event Center, which is under construction at the Riviera Beach Marina. A permanent exhibit on the history of Riviera Beach is planned for that space.

Singer Island resident Marianne Wiegand, another project volunteer, says she hopes this central depository will unite the city: “It has had a very long, sad past of division, lack of progress and animosity, all of which has kept the city from progressing. It seems that if residents can embrace and share their past, it may help improve their future and those of their children.”

Wiegand, Lubeck and Jenkins encourage the community to embrace the project.

“People need to know this is ‘their’ story, ‘their’ past, and ‘their’ museum that will give them, for the very first time in the city’s history, a place to actually showcase how the city was then, how it started, who the people were who helped grow Riviera Beach, and hopefully learn from the past and move into the future unified for the betterment of ‘their’ town,” says Wiegand.

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An artist’s rendering of the long hallway at the Marine Event Center, which is under construction at the Riviera Beach Marina. A permanent exhibit on the history of Riviera Beach is planned for that space.

And, hopes Lubeck, make them proud.

“This is local history, history that matters to families that grew up here and built this city from nothing. The generations that followed these early residents deserve to see their ancestry presented for many to see,” he notes. “It is our hope that the excitement to make this presentation in the new event center a focal point for the city and a proud moment for those who help make this city what it is today.”

Linda Haase