The son of Blockbuster video billionaire Wayne Huizenga successfully lobbied then-Gov. Rick Scott to include the site of his $100 million West Palm Beach development into an Opportunity Zone, according to a ProPublica investigation.
The Opportunity Zone legislation, passed in December 2017 as part of President Trump’s tax code overhaul, was intended to help low-income neighborhoods. In this case, it benefits Wayne Huizenga Jr.’s plans to build luxury apartment towers on the Marina Village site. His partner on the project is Related Group developer Jorge Pérez, and Related Companies’ Stephen Ross owns a portion of the Related Group.
Over the last decade, Ross, Pérez, Huizenga and their families have given at least $1 million to Scott and the Republican party of Florida, ProPublica reported. A week after Huizenga Jr. sent a letter to Scott to include the census tract into the federal program, Scott revealed the areas he had selected in Florida, which included the tract, home to the Rybovich superyacht marina owned by Huizenga, where he’s planning to develop apartments.
The state of Florida did not originally include that area as an Opportunity Zone, and Scott rejected other poorer census tracts that the city of West Palm Beach had requested be included. Scott is now a state senator.
Investors who develop in one of the 8,000 designated Opportunity Zones throughout the country can defer federal taxes on capital gains until Dec. 31, 2026. Investors can reduce that tax payment by as much as 15 percent and pay no taxes on possible profits from an Opportunity Zone fund if they hold onto the investment for 10 years.
A spokesperson for Scott told ProPublica that the former governor focused on job creation in low-income areas. Rybovich’s president said the motivation to secure the Opportunity Zone designation was to “create incentives for redevelopment by third parties in the surrounding neighborhood.” [ProPublica] – Katherine Kallergis