BOYNTON BEACH — The Boynton Beach Community Redevelopment Agency will propose paying $1.2 million to buy back the property on which the Heart of Boynton’s Family Dollar stood before it shuttered July 12.
CRA board members on Tuesday voted 3-2 to pursue the purchase with a letter of interest. The property’s price tag would add onto $800,000 worth of land acquisition and grant money previously fed into the project, which once infused the neighborhood with commercial hopes.
Steven Grant, CRA board chair, said he was “all in favor” of sending an interest letter for $1.2 million. “If we don’t make the offer, we don’t have the ability to control the outcome,” Grant said, adding the exchange would help position the CRA in “the driver’s seat.”
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The 8,100-square-foot Family Dollar sat at the corner of Martin Luther King Jr. and Seacrest boulevards. The corridor is preparing for considerable redevelopment under Centennial Management Corp. that would bring retail options and at least 124 low-rent apartments.
Still, some residents valued the Family Dollar, the first commercial project for the Heart of Boynton in more than 40 years.
The city broke ground on the Family Dollar property in March 2015. A chunk of land that was at one time owned by the CRA, the property was passed to Boos-Seacrest for development and sold to Woodcliff Washington for more than $2.5 million.
The Family Dollar was open for less than four years, one of 390 Family Dollar casualties this year.
Michael Simon, CRA executive director, said Tuesday the property owner, now in California, is negotiating a lease buyout and would ideally sell the property to reclaim his original investment. Simon brought to the board a potential payment of between $1.1 million and $1.2 million.
While Grant as well as board members Ty Penserga and Christina Romelus advocated making an offer, board member Mack McCray said the CRA has already invested in that property.
“I can’t go along with that,” McCray said.
Vice Chair Justin Katz also dissented, saying his vote was not a complete disapproval of the purchase but that he did not “know enough to allocate $1.2 million.” While Katz said his gut instinct was “to wash our hands of it,” he could not shake that the property “is adjacent to a major project.”
Romelus said she sees opportunity with the property, and that perhaps a market or produce spot could land there.
“There is a food desert there,” Romelus said. “People have to basically drive by the Heart of Boynton to get food, and fresh food.”
Penserga said he also favored a purchase, “just so we can control its future.”
Grant echoed the grocery idea and said with $40,000 of yearly property taxes on the building, the owner could seek better bids for years to come if the CRA does not extend a worthy offer.
He called it “foolish” for the board to think the owner would settle for less than $1.1 or $1.2 million.