The financially insecure Downtown Development Authority in Fort Lauderdale may sell a park to a developer if the city refuses to lease it.
The authority, owner of Bubier Park and the Huizenga Plaza there, proposed leasing the park to the city for five years for $100,000 a year and requiring the city to cover the cost of managing the park.
But city commissioners appear unwilling to lease the park, located at the intersection of Andrews Avenue and Las Olas Boulevard next to Riverwalk, a linear city park along the New River.
Mayor Jack Seiler told the Sun-Sentinel that “it needs to remain open space. Riverwalk would not be Riverwalk without Huizenga Plaza and Bubier Park.”
Broward County has valued the park at more than $5 million.
The Downtown Development Authority has projected that its financial reserves could be drained in four years without a new source of revenue. The authority expects its expenses to start exceeding revenue next year.
Created 50 years ago to promote redevelopment of blighted areas in the central business district, the Downtown Development Authority collects taxes on commercial property in downtown Fort Lauderdale. But extensive residential property development in the downtown area has limited the authority’s tax collections.
Christopher Wren, executive director of the authority, told the Sun-Sentinel that Bubier Park could be developed in a way that preserves an “open urban park” and generates funds to purchase other downtown parcels and convert them to parks.
Wren also said the authority has talked to a developer about buying the park. [Sun-Sentinel]— Mike Seemuth