WPB Puts Old City Hall Site On Hold
Change in land value & new state law prompts decision.
(West Palm Beach, FL) – Citing a new land appraisal as well as a desire to hit the reset button on the process, city leaders decided today to pull the Old City Hall site off the market.
Last year the city asked developers to submit ideas for what could be built on the site located along Banyan Boulevard between Flagler Drive and Olive Avenue.
The guidelines given to developers were general and allowed them to submit proposals that exceeded a current five story height limit for the property. Earlier this year, the city picked two developers to continue in the process. The most recent proposals from both developers exceed that five story limit.
As discussions between the city and the two developers progressed, the city commissioned a newer, up-to-date appraisal of the property. The new appraisal valued the land at $12 million dollars. That is $5 million dollars more than one developer is offering, and $2 million dollars more than the other is offering.
“The most significant difference for me now is we have a new appraisal,” said West Palm Beach Commissioner Keith James. “It’s a value significantly higher than what we’ve been offered by the proposers. This is money that comes back to the city coffers….I do not want to rush into a fire sale of a jewel of a property. I can’t see accepting either one of these proposals.”
West Palm Beach Commissioner Kimberly Mitchell also cited the appraisal.
“The value of the property has grown, and it will continue to grow. And because this site is so special, I don’t think going forwards is in the collective best interest of the city,” said Mitchell.
One of the developers, Frank Navarro urged the city to continue the process.
“I am urging you, after $100,000 or more invested and my time that you do not close the [process] and penalize us because, in your mind, things have changed,” said Navarro.
Another factor affecting the city’s decision was a recent change in state law prohibiting the public from voting on a possible height limit change for the property. In June, Florida Governor Rick Scott signed off on a change to state law which prohibits cities from holding voter referendums on building heights.
City leaders had agreed to allow voters to decide by referendum whether they wanted to waive the height limit. But now the change in state law makes that vote impossible.