After a lengthy May 23 City Commission meeting which resulted in a vote to punt the issue to the Planning and Zoning Board for review, a request to amend the Development Agreement for the Lighthouse Point Yacht Club has been retracted by Lighthouse Point owner and developer Terry Patterson.
If the request had not been retracted, the process for funneling the amendment proposal through the Planning and Zoning Board would have delayed a verdict on the request until at least September, following a Board meeting, two public hearings and at least one additional City Commission meeting. This drawn-out timeline, Patterson said, prompted him to retract the amendment request.
“What I was asking for from the Commission could have been approved at the Commission level by the middle of July and we could have started our preparations,” said Patterson in a public statement. “However, since three of the Commissioners instead chose to skirt their responsibilities to the Planning and Zoning Board, this process would now be over at a minimum in mid-September…Once we agree to the changes through Planning and Zoning, only then can the agreement come back to the Commission, who should have just dealt with it themselves.”
Before it was retracted, the amendment request was to allow Patterson and his team to start demolition on the old clubhouse in advance of meeting a requirement currently laid out in the development agreement. According to the current agreement, Patterson must first show the Commission “proof of financial viability” for the project. While the agreement is not precise on what constitutes proof, a previous letter of intention from Colorado Savings Bank, which stated it intended to cover $25,500,000 in construction costs of the residential units, was deemed insufficient proof by the City Administration, which has not yet approved demolition to begin. Once demolition begins, according to the current development agreement, the clock starts on a strict construction timeline.
In order to get finalized bank loans — which would assumably satisfy the “proof of financial viability” requirement laid out in the development agreement once shown to Mayor Kyle Van Buskirk — the bank must first see the master permits, city-stamped plans and builders risk insurance. Thus, Patterson said he must first await the approval of the master permits before he can show the Mayor the finalized construction loan paperwork.
“I have never asked to change it [the financial viability requirement]. However, I won’t formally present it to the Mayor until our master permits are ready to be issued,” Patterson wrote in a letter to yacht club members.
Those permits, however, have faced significant delays. Roughly six months ago, the clubhouse building plans hit an unfortunate and unforeseen hurdle when the Pompano Beach Fire Marshall responsible for approving them (because Lighthouse Point does not currently have a Fire Marshall), disagreed with a previous verdict made by the Planning and Zoning Board to design the building for a max capacity of about 400 people determined by the indoor space. The Pompano Beach Fire Marshall was adamant that the plans needed to be designed for a max capacity of almost 1,600 people to reflect the capacity of indoor and outdoor spaces. Despite the plans having been approved by Planning and Zoning, this determination by the Pompano Beach Fire Marshall forced Patterson and his team to go back to the drawing board to do a clubhouse redesign.
This “came at great cost,” said Patterson at the Commission meeting.
Because of this delay, Patterson was hopeful the City Commission might be flexible on amending the development agreement to allow demolition to begin and not start the clock on the full construction timeline until vertical build begins.
At the May 23 Commission meeting, the topic of amending the agreement was intensely discussed for more than 2.5 hours between the Mayor, City Administrator, City Commissioners, Patterson, members of the Lighthouse Point Yacht Club staff and Lighthouse Point residents who appeared passionately at the podium to express their frustrations and fears surrounding the development. Ultimately that meeting resulted in a vote to send the issue on to Planning and Zoning.
Now that the amendment request has since been retracted, Patterson will stay the course to wait for the master permits to be issued.
“I keep saying that our permits are imminent but that the last 5 percent push is always the toughest,” said Patterson in his letter.” The silver lining is that our Mayor Kyle Van Buskirk, City Administrator John Lavisky, and all the city employees are working diligently to get our permits through the process. Due to this positive fact, we have pulled our requested development agreement amendment from the City Commission and will place our bets with our Mayor and City Staff. No more asking the Commission to work with us to speed things up.”
The new clubhouse plans, which were resubmitted to the City of Lighthouse Point on May 17, are still under review. According to Lighthouse Point Yacht Club owner and Community Outreach Director Jessica Easterling, who checked the status on June 14, some trades, including plumbing, electrical and mechanical, had made comments on the plans, which were then in structural review. No comments had been added for the fire review. City Administrator John Lavisky said a meeting was scheduled for June 16 between the Lighthouse Point building department and Joseph Gratton, from Lighthouse Point Yacht Club Investments, to review all comments.
According to Sandra King, the City of Pompano Beach’s Strategic Communications Administrator, the new clubhouse plans had not yet been sent to the City of Pompano Beach for Fire Marshall review as of June 13. The Lighthouse Point building department will pass them to Pompano Beach.
The plans for the tennis center were largely approved, with only minor comments to apply. The plans for the townhomes had not yet been resubmitted as of June 14, but according to Easterling, were projected to be resubmitted by approximately June 21.