By Marie Puleo
After a seven-month long hiring process, the new in-house team created by the City to run its Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA) is in place and has been operational since Oct. 1.
All four members of the new team are former employees of Redevelopment Management Associates (RMA) — the firm that had managed the CRA since 2009. In January, RMA announced that it was terminating its contract with the City, which precipitated the restructuring of the CRA. RMA continued to work with the City during a transition phase, which ended on Sept. 30.
Under the master consulting agreement RMA had with the City, RMA provided the Pompano Beach CRA with 10 staff members, and 11 others with support staff responsibilities.
RMA employees were welcome to apply for positions within the new in-house CRA team, according to Pompano Beach City Manager Greg Harrison, who became CRA Executive Director when RMA’s principals, Kim Briesemeister and Chris Brown, stepped down as co-executive directors on Feb. 1. The application process for the new positions was open to all qualified candidates. The following four have been hired for the in-house CRA team:[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]
Nguyen Tran was selected to be the new CRA Director. He has a housing, planning and redevelopment background, and will be responsible for the day-to-day operations of the agency.
Tran was hired by RMA in 2012 as a senior project manager for the Pompano Beach CRA and became director of the Pompano Beach Northwest CRA district (NW CRA) in 2014, a position he held until mid-2017, when RMA asked him to work in West Palm Beach as a CRA project manager. In June of this year, Tran returned to Pompano and resumed his role of NW CRA Director, then applied for his new position.
Tran’s other experience includes working as a consultant for the Delray Beach CRA; a senior planner for the City of Delray Beach; a project manager for Lennar Homes, one of the top home builders in the country; a senior project manager in the West Palm Beach office of HDR Architecture; a development officer for the Delray Beach Housing Authority; and vice-president of operations for its nonprofit subsidiary.
Tran said one of the key aspects of his new role will be setting and implementing the vision for the CRA moving forward.
“The focus in the NW CRA is the Innovation District, and developing all the vacant properties that the CRA currently owns in the NW CRA, so the area can become an economically viable downtown,” said Tran.
The focus in the East CRA district is management of future growth within the commercial corridor along Atlantic Blvd. and A1A, said Tran. Emphasis will also be placed on creating a master plan for the Oceanside parking lot (across from the Sands Harbor Resort and Marina) and developing a new parking garage, retail shops and a community/activity center on the site.[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]
The person hired to be the CRA’s new project manager is Kimberly Vazquez, who has a long career in municipal government. She started working for the City of Pompano Beach as an RMA employee in December 2017 to fill the vacant position of CRA Clerk, and also did some project coordination. Her previous experience includes working as a CRA project coordinator for West Palm Beach, and as a CRA project manager for North Miami Beach and Margate. She also worked for the CRAs of Hollywood and Fort Lauderdale in an administrative role, helping to get their CRAs operational, while assisting with marketing initiatives and annual budgets.[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]
The new project coordinator for the Pompano Beach CRA is Danielle Sabat. Over two years ago, she started working for RMA as a marketing intern, and then became the marketing coordinator for the City of Margate CRA as an RMA employee. In December 2017, she transitioned to the Pompano Beach CRA as the Cultural Arts Marketing Manager, handling the marketing for Bailey Contemporary Arts (BaCA) and Historic Ali Cultural Arts, as well as the CRA’s monthly Old Town Untapped event. In her current position, she still handles marketing, social media and advertising for the CRA, but will also be assisting with redevelopment projects, such as the Innovation District.[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]
Marsha Carmichael is the CRA Administrative Coordinator. Starting in 2016, she worked in the role of Pompano Beach CRA Clerk as an RMA employee. In February 2018, she stepped into her current position, which was incorporated into the in-house CRA team. She still carries out her CRA Clerk duties, but is also responsible for purchase orders, vendor payments and managing CRA-owned properties. Before coming to work for the Pompano Beach CRA, she was the office manager of an engineering firm; a legal operations analyst for Tyco; and an executive assistant for ION Television in West Palm Beach.
There are plans to hire a marketing coordinator who will be shared between the City and the CRA. The person in that role would handle events at the city’s cultural venues as well as social media and marketing for CRA events.
Dahlia Baker still holds the position of CRA Workforce Program Director as a contractor, and Claudia McKenna is still the CRA Attorney. The RMA employee who handled the budgetary and finance plan of the CRA will continue to do it on an “as-needed basis” under contract with the City.
Tran said that with the transition to an in-house team, “staffing got cut, but there are still many huge projects,” so it is anticipated there will be times when support services from consultants will be needed.
“I’m excited to keep the progress moving forward and to implement the vision set by the CRA Board for the Northwest and East CRA districts,” said Tran. “Although we’re working with a smaller staff than before, we’re up to the challenge.”[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]