Citing the high cost of renting, Hollywood delays plans for Welcome Center.

Visitors to Hollywood Beach will have to find their way around the city without a welcome center, at least for a little while longer. 

Citing the high cost and a lengthy lease, Hollywood Commissioners — acting as the Community Redevelopment Agency board — on Wednesday voted to hold off on renting a building to serve a one-stop-shop for transportation offerings and vacation brochures.

“I just don’t see it being worth that,” said Commissioner Heidi O’Sheehan, of the $12,5000 a month rent. “If we think it’s that valuable I’d rather buy it.” 

Under the lease, the CRA would have paid about $1.1 million over seven years to rent the ½ acre property at 525 N. Ocean Dr. The building, which used to be a car rental agency, would cost more than $4 million to buy, CRA Director Jorge Camejo said.

Camejo told the board Wednesday that the spot would be visible to drivers on busy AIA. It would also show off Hollywood as a tourist-friendly city.

“It’s not just the building, it’s the location,” he said, adding that the layout is perfect because it has a relatively small building, more than 60 parking spots and a large surface area for the trolley.

Currently, the city only has a kiosk on the beach that offers information about water sports, local attractions and transportation options including the water taxi. The city’s trolley stop is located near Johnson Street, an area that will soon be under construction for the new Margaritaville Beach Resort.
Though several commissioners said they agreed the beach could use a

tourist center — and a spot to encourage the use of public transportation — several said seven years is a long time to commit to one location.

“I’d like to see other options,” said Commissioner Beam Furr, saying the most he would consider is a two-year lease.
But Vice Mayor Patricia Asseff said with all of the improvements on the beach including Margaritaville, the costs for prime property are only going to go up.

“This happens to be a very prominent spot,” said Asseff. “I think it has so much potential.”
In other news:

• The commission — acting as the CRA board — agreed to spend up to $130,000 to demolish the Mirador Motel at 901 S. Ocean Dr. The motel was built in 1955 and has long been abandoned. The owners of the property, GSK, sued the city in 2005, saying zoning changes had affected their rights to develop the property. Litigation is still pending, but commissioners said in the meanwhile the standing motel is an eyesore and needs to be torn down.
• Commissioners are still seeing bills from November’s major sewer pipe rupture on Taft Street. At Wednesday’s meeting, the commission approved a nearly $340,000 tab to Everglades Waste Removal Services for the environmental cleanup of the canal and surrounding neighborhood. Last month, the commission approved about $150,000 in expenses. Interim City Manager Cathy Swanson-Rivenbark said there will be more bills that will come before the commission.

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