By Brian Bandell – Senior Reporter, South Florida Business Journal
Oct 5, 2020, 3:00pm EDT
Coral Springs could sell its former city hall site to Amera Properties to set up a mixed-use development in the city’s new downtown district.
The City Commission will consider Oct. 7 approving a letter of understanding with Amera Downtown Development Co., led by veteran developer George Rahael. If the item passes, the local developer would move forward with a proposal to purchase the 4-acre property from the city and seek development approvals.
A specific site plan hasn’t been finalized, Rahael said. He expects the project would have about 300 to 350 residential units, office and retail/restaurants.
Amera owns most of the neighboring shopping center at 9301 W. Sample Road, and it has the rest of the property under contract. When combined with the former city hall site, the developer would have about 12 acres to develop, on the north side of Sample Road, from University Drive to Coral Hills Drive.
The project would be called Village Square.
“We believe we have the right vision for that location,” Rahael said. “Although the office market today is not very healthy today, we believe long term good quality office space with the right conditions will come back.”
Rahael said suburban office will be more attractive because it’s closer to where many employees live and less expensive than downtown offices. In addition, offices can easily share a parking garage with residential and retail space because they are typically busy at different times.
Under the proposed timeline in the letter of understanding, Amera would make it preliminary design submittal to the city in February 2021 and the plans could be approved by June. The developer agreed to purchase the former City Hall site for $4.6 million, which is in the middle of values determined by two recent appraisals. In addition, the city would contribute up to $600,000 in public benefits for the project, such as water and sewer infrastructure.
Amera plans to seek tax increment financing (TIF) incentives from the Coral Springs Community Redevelopment Agency in order to lower its property taxes for the project. If the CRA does not award TIF, the developer has the right to cancel the letter of understanding.
“We are already seeing a demand in the suburban residential market and typically you want them to work near where they live,” Rahael said.
Coral Springs created a downtown zoning district to encourage mixed-use development. Predesco has another project in the works utilizing that zoning code.