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Hollywood’s Margaritaville project hits more snags

The developer of the planned Margaritaville Beach Resort in Hollywood has hit yet another bump on the road to creating a beach paradise: a new request by Broward County that could take months and an additional $200,000 to satisfy.

After going to the county to sign off on permits, developer Lon Tabatchnik learned he would have to go through a process to precisely define the boundaries of the tract as well as the access to public rights of way.

By the time that process is completed and its findings work their way through the county bureaucracy, it could be November.

“This is an unforeseen circumstance,” Tabatchnik said Tuesday.

The latest hurdle involves about one-tenth of an acre.

In most cases, Broward County requires that the definition of boundaries, known as platting, be done on any property over five acres that is to be developed. City Attorney Jeff Sheffel said the city believes the property, at Johnson Street and State Road A1A, covers 4.97 acres. But according to county records dating back to the 1920s, the site is 5.1 acres.

Until the discrepancy is resolved, Tabatchnik said, he cannot get permits — and that translates into a further struggle to obtain financing.

Tabatchnik has already faced several challenges, including securing the more than $130 million needed for his project and missing key deadlines for submitting final plans and obtaining a construction permit.

Originally, he planned to attract foreign investors through a federal program under which they could win U.S. residency if they put up $500,000.

But that plan didn’t yield the results he hoped for, so in May Tabatchnik made several proposals to Hollywood that included getting traditional financing and asking for more money from the city’s Community Redevelopment Agency.

He also asked the city for more time to get his funding in place.

Last month, the City Commission agreed to give Tabatchnik until July 18.

At Tuesday’s commission meeting, City Manager Cathy Swanson-Rivenbark gave commissioners an update, saying the city staff was close to a deal that could be presented to the commission.

The new funding structure counts on the CRA lending $23 million instead of the originally planned $10 million. It also calls for the developer to get $72 million from investors. The remaining $43 million would be funded through a special taxing district on the parking garage and money from the developer.

Swanson-Rivenbark said the new funding plan would end up being beneficial to the city. Over 50 years, she said, Hollywood would collect $488 million instead of $273 million in rent.

“I think you are going to find at the end, sometimes a challenge can turn into a positive,” she said.

Despite the delays, commissioners said they were optimistic.

“I still have faith in [Tabatchnik] and this development,” said Commissioner Heidi O’Sheehan. “Just to throw it to the curbside because we’ve hit a couple bumps is not in the best interest of any of us.”

At its July 18 meeting, the commission is expected to vote on a proposal to suspend enforcement of any deadline for the project until a new time frame and finance schedule can be worked out. That probably won’t happen until September.

Mayor Peter Bober said he believes the city has an obligation to be patient.

“Rome wasn’t built in a day,” he said.

Also at Tuesday’s meeting, the commission joined cities across South Florida in banning the sale of herbal incense and synthetic bath salts. Hollywood Police Chief Chad Wagner called the substances “dangerous.”

“It’s the new fad and it’s very cheap,” said Wagner.

The ban passed unanimously on the heels of a high-profile case in Miami in which a man chewed off another man’s face, although the attacker, who was shot dead by police, did not test positive for such substances.

Anyone in violation of Hollywood’s ban faces a $500 fine and/or 60 days in jail. Other cities, including Sunrise, Sweetwater and Lauderhill, have passed similar ordinances.

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