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Broward City Courts Developers To Remake 50 Acres Of Its Downtown

Cale Curtis left tropical Florida this week to head to the Las Vegas desert. The Margate city manager is on official business, showing up with a pitch to developers at the ICSC conference: remake the downtown core of the city of 58,712 people.

The 27 properties up for redevelopment are owned by the city of Margate and the local community redevelopment agency.

Local officials in Margate, located in central Broward County, have put out a request for proposals to redevelop as many as 50 acres along Highway 441 and Margate Boulevard. City officials are hoping to find a development partner to replace government buildings and vacant lots with a vibrant mixed-use community that will serve as a magnet in the region. 

“We're looking for our own destination corridor,” Curtis told Bisnow Tuesday. “The residents of Margate typically have to go outside of the city to find their entertainment — they go to Coral Springs, Coconut Creek and Pompano Beach. We're looking to create that environment here in Margate.”

The offering spans 27 parcels owned by the city and the Margate Community Redevelopment Agency where officials want to build a mixed-use community that, at minimum, includes retail and residential properties. 

The RFP is the second major push from elected officials in Margate to transform the city’s downtown. A previous city commission reached an agreement in 2016 with Miami-based New Urban Development to build around 1,000 apartments on some of the land now up for bid. 

Officials backed out of the agreement after an election shifted the balance of power on the commission. New Urban sued the Margate CRA in 2018 in an effort to enforce the deal. The dispute wound its way through the courts before the two sides reached an agreement on May 8 to dismiss all litigation and cover their own legal costs.  

“We finally just closed everything out from the lawsuit, and now the property is back in our control, which is why we are launching this offering,” Curtis said. “This has been a long time coming for my commissioners. They’re excited to get this project launched and moving forward.”

The RFP is deliberately open-ended. No minimum multifamily unit counts are prescribed and no minimum square footage is given for any of the commercial space. Aside from proposing a ground lease, the offering includes no conditions for a minimum investment and has no mention of the types of incentives the city will put on the table, although Curtis said the city would likely bear some of the cost of infrastructure improvements. 

“The vagueness was done purposefully to make sure that people had that sense of flexibility that would allow them to come to us with their vision, both aesthetically as well as economically,” said Ken Krasnow, Colliers vice chairman of institutional investor services in Florida, who is on the team marketing the offering. 

Margate's combined City Hall and police station are among the civic properties being offered for redevelopment.

The RFP also makes no mention of affordable housing, despite the affordable housing shortage plaguing South Florida. City officials felt an affordable or workforce housing requirement was unnecessary because rents in the city are already moderately priced compared to the surrounding communities, Curtis said.

The average rent in Margate was $2,188 per month in March for a 988 SF apartment, according to RentCafe. A one-bedroom workforce housing unit in Broward County could be leased for $2,160 per month and still meet affordability requirements that cap rents at 120% of the area median income. 

“The City intends for this project to be a destination offering dining/leisure activities, residences, retail, and activated, public open space,” the RFP says. “This is truly a one-of-a-kind offering, representing one of the few remaining undeveloped plots of land of this magnitude in Broward County.”

The selected proposal is expected to take years to execute and would likely be built in phases, Krasnow said. 

The properties up for grabs include a host of city-owned offices and facilities, including Margate City Hall, a community center, a senior center, a police station, a library and a fire station. Developers can either leave those buildings in place or demolish and replace them as part of an integrated project.

Bids are due Aug. 13, and the city is hosting an online conference to promote the project on June 25. Margate is giving interested developers until July 16 to ask questions or seek clarifications and plans to answer all questions by July 30. 

Curtis and Krasnow said the city is looking for a transformative development, but they said officials would rank each proposal based on its impact to the community and not by its inclusion of city services. 

“This is not about getting a new city hall,” Krasnow said. “This is about creating that central sense of place.”