”The first lesson of economics is scarcity: There is never enough of anything to fully satisfy all those that want it. The first lesson of politics is to disregard the first lesson of economics” -Thomas Sewell
The Margate Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA) was set up with the mandate to revitalize downtown Margate. After more than a decade of promises, planning and high hopes, the CRA's plan is at very least underwhelming. At its core, the plan does little to accomplish what the CRA was formed to do, which is to fix blighted areas of the City. _____________
Properties purchased by the CRA are scarce commodities. Lands bought for more than $25 million to re-energize, revitalize, and put Margate on the map are being sold to a developer for $10 million and the plan for the area is to build mostly apartments.
Conceptually, plans look nothing like a destination that would entice residents and visitors. Economically, lands in downtown Margate are some of the last developable parcels in Broward County, so why sell them at a discount? Moreover, residents who occupy apartments will likely do their shopping in other cities - like Margate residents do now - and will commute to jobs elsewhere. A “lose lose” for Margate.
In order for Margate’s downtown to succeed among cities like Coral Springs, Coconut Creek and others in the area that have city center projects planned, it must be a destination location. Margate's downtown should scream, “Come! Enjoy! Spend your money here!” The highest concentration of land use should be for leisure activities with restaurants, cafes, intimate pedestrian spaces, fountains, boating and assorted retail businesses. Maybe even a Hampton Inn or Marriott. Prevalent should be eateries and businesses with outdoor terraces and arcade structures. Storefronts should be colorful and welcoming with a limited number of apartments on top.
One main flaw in downtown revitalization as it appears now is the lack of planning for how people are going to get around. The strip of 441 that runs through the proposed city center is dangerously congested and with cars traveling in excess of 40 mph. It’s not walkable and it’s not safe. While an overpass for pedestrians and bicycles seems obvious; one appears nowhere in the plan. And while the CRA has lofty ideas for hundreds of apartments and a smattering of roadside storefronts; plans are moot unless traffic can be slowed and residents and visitors feel safe. The CRA will need the cooperation of county and state officials to pull this off. No easy task.
Parking? Planners have no real plan for this. They say businesses, residents and visitors will all share parking spaces and it will work out in the end. A far-fetched reality at best. Planners do say the City could build a parking garage at taxpayers’ expense for $20,000 a spot. But hold on a minute, didn’t we just spend millions of taxpayer dollars to buy properties? Now we have to buy a parking garage?
Such a concept defies all economic sense. After spending millions to buy land and thousands more to demolish buildings and put in infrastructure, Margate taxpayers shouldn’t have to open their wallets ever again. But they will and elected officials are going to let it to happen.
Are city commissioners who sit on the board of the CRA getting from developers what Margate residents want and need? The politics are obvious: Anything is better than nothing. But to un-build a mistake is nearly impossible, and whatever is constructed on the more than 40 acres downtown will define Margate for generations.
Unless a massive housing project is what stakeholders want for downtown Margate doing nothing might be better than doing the wrong thing at this time.
- Margate resident and city commission candidate, Anthony Caggiano
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Some of the comments:
By Liz Borne on 03/04/2016
Margate needs to beef up our police department, let the criminals know, this is not the town for you! Do not build thousands of housing, work with businesses, we already have enough residents to support a safe and diverse downtown!!!
By Bill on 03/04/2016
Give it five years and all of that empty commercial space they want to build downtown will be transformed into trouble teen high schools or sweat shop call centers, just like the rest of the city.
By John Doyle on 03/04/2016
Political comments yes. Because a commission candidate wrote the letter. But does anybody have thoughts about the stagnation of vacant lands downtown and what to do? Margate taxpayers are being screwed. So let's start running our mouths about that instead of petty politics. Hard to do because the whole CRA process is political.
By In fielder on 03/03/2016
Typical Margate political comments, a few good points made for future commissioners and then a whole bunch of "clique" bashing and Paul Ryan era finger pointing. Rand commentary is so 4 years ago.
By Lyle on 03/03/2016
So your point is to not have a point? Got it.
By Republicaninwait on 03/03/2016
Reading again, and it is easy for someone to get confused. I think the comment that was made "Other than Mr. Caggiano the rest of the candidates, for this seat especially, read off of like a "friends of the established commission" list, which means one thing, a vote for them is a vote for more of the same." is hysterical. I choked on my coffee reading this. Someone really needs to watch and look at who Caggiano friends are in the city. Just saying. Some of the people running for seat 1 & 2 I think have great ideas and will get the city noticed finally. We need to let go of the past and grab onto the future and some of these candidates will do it. Some of the candidates are old news already, Maybe in the past they lost by a few votes, but there was a reason they lost. Move over and give the new ones a chance. Time for a change
By Lyle on 03/03/2016
So we should vote for the clique that you support which has done nothing but lose money and go in circles the last few years, but not the clique you don't like which has been the only people in the city that have been pushing for the city to be held accountable while the commission tries to hold down the rug they've been sweeping it under? Makes a whole lot of sense. This city is the laughing stock of the county.
By Republicaninwait on 03/03/2016
Other than Mr. Caggiano the rest of the candidates, for this seat especially, read off of like a "friends of the established commission" list, which means one thing, a vote for them is a vote for more of the same. I choked on my coffee reading this. Someone really needs to watch and look at who Caggiano friends are in the city. Just saying. Some of the people running for seat 1 & 2 I think have great ideas and will get the city noticed finally. We need to let go of the past and grab onto the future and some of these candidates will do it. Some of the candidates are old news already, Maybe in the past they lost by a few votes, but there was a reason they lost. Move over and give the new ones a chance. Time for a change
By Mario Cruz on 03/03/2016
There's no plan whatsoever beyond the status quo which is less than or equal to zero. There's been a decade plus of hoping, wishing and praying for a miracle developer to come to the City and CRA with plans for a major development, something perhaps like a Mizner Park, that will make Margate an appealing destination that draws people in. This type of thinking is delusional and extremely unrealistic, costing the city and taxpayers millions and leaving nothing but a dilapidated stretch of State Road 7 that looks worse by the day judging by the increasing number of homeless vagrants and psych patients in wheelchairs popping wheelies at intersections. I'm sure I'm not the only person who's seen the old bag lady in a wheelchair at 441 and Atlantic! This is what Margate has turned into, which is very unfortunate. in my opinion let's cut our losses with the CRA and get a fresh team of developers with proven track records to get the ball rolling on development before our city becomes a dumping ground for the homeless and other undesirables. The status quo isn't working as actions speaks louder than words.
By JD on 03/02/2016
Unfortunately, other than Mr. Caggiano the rest of the candidates, for this seat especially, read off of like a "friends of the established commission" list, which means one thing, a vote for them is a vote for more of the same. Personally, I'm tired of "more of the same", it hasn't worked. It's time to give someone who's not part of the established commission clique a chance. Remember when they tried to convince us that Ruzzano was a mistake? He's turned out to be a fine commissioner.
By Margate Resident on 03/02/2016
I have offered it more than once, our city officials are inept at understanding what is truly needed to move Margate forward. They should not be in the business of owning land, developing land it bought, nor being a landlord to tenants. It should be a community and voice of the residents within the city that ultimately pay taxes and reside there. Unfortunately city officials fail to listen to the many residents and take the time necessary to visit other local cities like Coconut Creek that exceed the expectations of its residents. Margate is considered a joke locally and a city that long ago fell from grace.
By sangm on 03/02/2016
Very interesting that you would use a quote from an old black man that has slavishly followed the doctrine of Ayn Rand and the ignominy of the right for most of his life. We are all blessed that we hardly know him.
By Harris on 03/02/2016
In my business I work with developers all of the time. What I've been told for years is that Margate is far down on the list of cities in Broward that they want to develop in. It's not attractive to people to want to live in a city that offers very little to them, it's also not considered a city of people that have a lot of money to spend so commercial opportunities are low as well. Add to that the history of difficulty that developers have had in the past with city commissions and the other departments making things harder than it ever needs to be, and you have an image that this is a city that developers will come to as a last resort. That is something that needs to be addressed. The reason you have a developer now that can hold the city's feet to the fire is that they know they can, who else wants to build? The city spent how much money upgrading the sewer capacity to the Swap Shop site on our dime, any other city or county owned utility in the three counties I've worked in makes developers pay for these upgrades, it's the price of developing. We give it away for free so it would seem. Like many other Margate residents the majority of my shopping, eating out, and recreating is done in other cities. Our one Publix is outdated, small, and limited, our one Wal-Mart is small, limited and tops the crime blotter, businesses like Hampton Inn which you mentioned, or Chipolte, or a number of other popular chains, have all set up just across the city limits. Margate shoppers go, but Margate reaps no benefit. And being so close to the city means they is no reason for them to overlap their stores within the city. At this point I'd almost take housing just to get something done, it'll bring more tax money than empty store fronts and if the best we can attract now to our downtown is beauty supply stores, bars and pawn shops...well that's not much of a downtown either. Good luck if you win, you have your work cut out for you.