Riviera Beach OKs scaled-down plan for Ocean Mall

RIVIERA BEACH The city's redevelopment board approved builder Dan Catalfumo's site plan to redevelop the Ocean Mall on Singer Island, although it has been scaled back by $230 million.

The site plan was approved 4-1 Wednesday, with Councilwoman Lynne Hubbard dissenting. Hubbard wanted the board to postpone the vote until the Treasure Coast Regional Planning Council could provide more feedback.

The Community Redevelopment Agency hired the planning council in September to reevaluate its $2.4 billion waterfront redevelopment plan. The council presented its preliminary findings last month but won't release a final report until December.

The CRA board granted approval for Ocean Mall Redevelopment to build 60,000 square feet of retail shops and restaurants on the 11-acre, city-owned site. OMRD, as the company is known, consists of Catalfumo and Boca Raton developer Norton Herrick.

The original plan, which became a political lightning rod, also included a 28-story condominium-hotel.

Opposition to the condo-hotel sparked a referendum, in which residents voted to limit the building height to five stories.

By cutting the condo-hotel from 28 to five stories, the project's value dropped to $50 million.

The plan approved by the CRA did not include the hotel. Catalfumo company officials plan to build a five-story hotel and to present that phase of the project in the future.

"We've waited a long time," said Joey Eichner, president of Catalfumo Construction and Development. "I was pleased to see the public support for the project."

The plan now goes to the city council, which also sits as the CRA board, for approval. It's expected to vote during a Dec. 5 meeting.

Construction may begin as early as March, Eichner said. He estimated it would take about 10 months to build the shops and restaurants.

The city has been working for years to get the Ocean Mall redeveloped. Built in the 1970s, the buildings are aging and need renovations.

Last year, the northern portion of the mall was razed. A few tenants remain in the mall's southern section, which still attracts locals and tourists.

However, Singer Island residents have always fought to ensure that any redevelopment wouldn't limit access to the public beach. After a year of being at odds with Catalfumo, the plan won the support of Singer Island.

"The plan they showed tonight looks like a viable plan," said Dawn Pardo, a Singer Island resident and chairwoman of the Public Beach Coalition. Pardo organized the coalition to limit the building height and terms of the lease.

Tony Gigliotti, chairman of the Singer Island Civic Association, also threw his group's support behind the project. Gigliotti said approving the project sends a message that "there are signs of life in Riviera Beach" and "that we are actually going to take a positive step."