Coral Springs Candidates Discuss New Municipal Complex at Forum

By: Sharon Aron Baron

One of the hotly-debated issues of this city commission election in November is the proposed $28 million dollar municipal building.  At the Candidate forum last week, three residents who are running for Seat 5 were asked their opinions about it.

Originally referred to as the new city hall, the name has morphed into a “Municipal Complex.”  Candidates Joy Carter and Andy Holz believe that the cost is too high and that residents should have a vote on it.  Laurette Homan believes that the new complex will move Coral Springs forward.

All agree that a new one is needed but each one has different ideas on how to go about building it.  Watch the video above.  What do you think?

View Photos of the forum here.

About Sharon Aron Baron

Sharon Aron Baron Sharon Aron Baron is the Editor of Talk Media and writer for Coral Springs Talk. CST was created in 2012 to provide News, Views and Entertainment for the residents of Coral Springs, Parkland and the rest of South Florida.

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  • jhkilroy

    Since building a new city hall is a once in a 50 year event for Coral Springs make sure its a nice one. Lets build it by cutting all city pension plans and health insurance plans for ex-mayors and commissioners. No one else gets these fancy perks at work why should they…. this feeding off the troff has to stop.

  • Robert Sims

    There are two large office buildings within steps of the city’s center that are predominantly empty and could be purchased and refitted for far less money and provide an adequate home for city staff. Coral Springs doesn’t need to pander to the edifice complex of the current commission. I cannot see how this building will generate jobs or revenue for the city, rather it will cost too much in debt service and maintenance. No city hall building in any city I have visited made me want to relocate a home or business. What’s important is the viability of doing business, a safe place for raising a family with excellent schools. Coral Springs needs to adjust its focus as we start to look like neighboring cities that used to look up to Coral Springs as a city to emulate. Storefront churches have replaced retail as landlords struggle to keep their properties rented. Any candidate that thinks this building willl move this city forward is drinking the kool-aid provided by the current commission.

  • The Truth Seeker

    I’m not entirely sure why this is so hotly debated considering it’s already a done deal. Regardless of what happens in this election, I believe contracts are signed, etc. so notwithstanding something very extraordinary this project will be continuing as planned.

    That said, my opinion is this project is the right thing and the right time and if it were on the ballot I would vote in favor of it. And that means a municipal complex, the start of the ‘downtown’, not just a ‘Taj Mahal’ office building for city employees. I believe this project will in fact start development in the area and ultimately grow the tax base and bring in probably a 10 to 20 fold return on the investment which is phenomenal. I believe from watching meetings prominent developers are already lining up with interest. Coincidental? I think not, where were they the past 15 years?

    So, tying this back to the candidates, I think Carter has the narrowest vision which is always dangerous when looking at growth. She stated “I don’t see how a building that is open 9-5 can be the spark that jumpstarts development”. Here’s the problem with Carter – first, anyone that knows much about the city knows it’s not a 9-5 building. There are meetings, workshops, study circles, academies, etc. that go on at night all the time. I’ve personally been to meetings at city hall at night. Second, from looking at the plans and understanding the project, the ‘city hall’ type functions will be on floor 2 and up. The first floor will contain shops and other amenities during evening hours. So I believe that building will very much be an ‘early to late’ building that would be utilized much more than a city office building. And now it appears Carter also doesn’t believe it’s the right location. Well many experts including pros from the Urban Land Institute who analyzed location do believe it is.

    Holz, unlike Carter, does understand it’s about a complex, not a isolated building. His point about ‘pedestrian friendly’ has some merit, but he is speaking about the city as a whole. While there likely would be some challenges to overcome tying the other corners together, the ArtWalk would nicely tie The Walk with the Municipal Complex and in turn further West on Sample. His main objection then becomes cost.

    Homan came across as the only candidate that both has the vision of what is being done and why and believes it is the right thing for the city. She had some ‘cutesy’ statements regarding the ‘Taj Mahal’ and ‘Whatever it cost’ that perhaps is concerning but I believe she was referring to her opponents phrases and statements.

    The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. If we do not do something to reinvest and reinvigorate this city we would be guilty of being insane (continuing to keep wallets shut and expecting the city to move forward). I like to protect my wallet as much as the next guy but I also believe we do need to move forward. I do go to downtown Delray, Las Olas and other places and I would like to see our elite city compete on that front and give us residents a place to enjoy evenings.

    While our city is all that matters I can’t help but to look at cities like Lauderhill that put in a true city hall for a city with just over half our population at a cost of $35 million. So $28 million for a state of the art complex as part of a whole downtown doesn’t seem like a bad deal.

    So all things considered, for candidates mentioned in this article, I believe Homan has the proper vision on this topic.

    • Ira

      You have to be kidding.

      First off, you say, “If it were on the ballot, I would vote for it.”

      Well, goodie for YOU! But who’s responsible for it NOT being on the ballot? The guys you support. So okay—we’ll all make our decisions based on what YOU want, because Boccard, Powers, et al didn’t give us a choice.

      Sorry, but no thanks. Your opinion doesn’t interest me.

      You also hint that this is a done deal, which is total BS. Even with contracts signed, there are a plethora of ways to stop this boondoggle in its tracks. If any involved parties want to litigate, let them, but of course, they’ll never do business with CS again. Also important is that a million or two million in legal fees is chump change compared to $30 million plus for this ridiculous building.

      Next, you claim that this isn’t a 9-to-5 enterprise, that there are meetings, workshops, study circles, academies that take place at night. This might be the case, but I asked a lot of Coral Springers about this, and not a single one gave a shit about study circles or academies. (In fact, 90% didn’t even know what the hell “academies” are, and said that any study groups should use the freaking library right across the street!)

      So whether it’s 9-to-5 or 24/7, it’s pretty irrelevant. It’s not needed, especially since no one has ever heard anyone complain…ever…about a lack of academies space. At first, I thought this was your attempt at humor. STUDY CIRCLES? ACADEMIES?

      But then I realized it was you, and understood you were actually serious. (Thanks for the laughs!)

      We now get to your total ignorance of economic development, and your above mention that the Urban Land Institute supports this project. Well, WHOOPEE! But guess what!?

      Want to really know about the Urban Land Institute? Here’s a piece gleaned from Wikipedia:

      “ULI advocates progressive development, conducting research, and education in topics such as sustainability, smart growth, compact development, place making, and workforce housing.

      “The ULI was founded in 1936 and currently has nearly 30,000 members. More than 20% of the members work in government, academia, or public-private partnerships. Most of the rest are involved in the real estate and urban development industries.”

      So, we have an organization where 20% of its “members” work in government, AND 80% ARE IN REAL ESTATE AND URBAN DEVELOPMENT INDUSTRIES!

      So what does this mean? Think about it. Think REAL hard! And ask a friend if this is too difficult for you to follow!

      Real estate professionals are in the business of building and selling real estate. They’re NOT in the business of doing what’s best for the community. I mean, come on:

      HOW THE HELL CAN YOU QUOTE THE ULI’S ENDORSEMENT OF THIS PROJECT AS A POSITIVE? IT’S ACTUALLY THE EXACT OPPOSITE! ALL THEY WANT TO DO IS BUILD, BECA– USE IT MAKES THEIR MEMBERS MONEY!

      Your ignorance astounds me.

      Then, we come to your conclusion that this project will somehow jumpstart economic development in the area. And the RIDICULOUS argument that it will also include stores, as if Coral Springs needed more stores. Maybe you don’t drive, maybe you take a bus and don’t look out the window, but try it:

      All you’ll see are “For Rent” signs, which means there’s PLENTY of available retail space in Coral Springs. The LAST thing this city needs is more retail space! And since when should city government get involved in retail development? Isn’t that the job of private developers?

      Of course, and in addition, no City Halls (okay, MUNICIPAL COMPLEXES), ever spur economic development. Ever. And the idea that this will become some sort of “downtown” is laughable. You can’t CREATE a downtown; it develops organically. This isn’t Las Olas, Delray Beach, or Miami Beach, because we have nothing to offer.

      Finally, we come to your assessment of Homan as having the proper vision for the city, when all I see is a self-centered dope. Hell, I HEARD HER TALK!

      What vision? Going along with everything Boccard, Powers, etc. has done and wants to do? THAT’S her vision? What are her IDEAS? That seniors want more movies in the parks!?

      This city has NEVER looked worse, and you can’t blame it all on the recession.But Homan thinks the current commission is WONDERFUL!

      And coming at this time, with the city’s lower bond rating, this project is the most irresponsible, arrogant, and unnecessary idea ever conceived.

      By the way:

      For 10 years, I was Promotions Director for a major economic development magazine based in the Corporate Park, so if you wish to argue economic development with me, BRING IT ON!

      Economic development usually means profits for the real estate guys and tax breaks for the companies moving there, and fuck anyone who lives in the neighborhood.

      • barb

        Well now it makes sense, they voted to no longer use the Economic Development Foundation so I guess thats where the anger comes from…its personal.

      • The Truth Seeker

        Well thanks for your hate filled negative gum flapping. Sounds like more shouldn’t, can’t and won’t. I guess you just can’t engage in a respectful conversation.

  • tjb

    In the last candidate forum, at St. Andrew, I believe that Tom Power stated that the “New City
    Hall” building could increase the value of the area around it up to 400%. The Truth Seeking believes that his project will in fact start development in the area and ultimately grow the tax base and
    bring in probably a 10 to 20 fold return on the investment which is phenomenal.

    My question; How are these figures derived? Is this information provided from objective and reliable sources with expertise in such matter and not prominent developers with possible self-interest?

    Also, has bids for the construction of the “New City Hall” been open. Also, if a bidder has been awarded
    the contact, who is it?

    • Robert Townblinder

      Dear Truth Seeker,

      You are going to need to change your name unless you begin to speak the truth.You stated, “it’s already a done deal.” False! The commission cannot vote on a project that has no cost associated to it. If you had read the papers you would know that they do not expect a cost estimate from the architects for several months. A project of this size, the single largest in the city’s history, would have to go out for cost to construct bids. Unless of course the current players continue with the policy of multi-million dollar no-bid contracts with public funds..

      Second falsehood, “will grow the tax base”. This would take the single most valuable piece of commercial property in the city off the tax rolls. You WOULD be correct and it would increase the business tax base if we sold the land to the, your quote, “I believe from watching meetings prominent developers are already lining up with interest.”, your words. So if these developers (who benefits most from this project, George Rahael and Amera Properties FOLLOW THE MONEY) are so sure that this project will kick off the “New Downtown” I have a suggestion. Let them pay the city $10 million for the parcel and build it with their money, not taxpayer money. Then use the the $10 million to build the new city hall in the municipal complex on Coral Hills Drive where the land was cleared for a new city hall over 10 years ago. By the way, since you made reference to Lauderhill’s new city hall at $35 million, how come you didn’t make reference to Wellington’s 54,000 sq. ft. new city hall at $10 million????????

      Your next quote, The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.” Interesting. The same prominent developer, Amera, who built both The Walk and One Charter Place said these projects were going to jump start the new Downtown. I refer you, sir, back to your quote. And you want our citizens to fund, with their tax dollars, another Downtown project at $28 million complex??????. I again refer you back to your quote.

      I, too have spoken to many people who are long time residents of the city. Most of them a) have never been to city hall but have been to City Hall in the Mall and b) don’t know where it is.

      I think that Ms. Carter has it right. Why would you split up city services for our residents and out businesses? The city’s Fire Headquarters, Police Headquarters, Centre for the Arts, and the Gymnasium are in that Coral Springs Dr. complex or corridor. Doesn’t it make more sense to ask our citizens and business to find all the services they need in one place?????

      As to your support of Ms. Homan and her comment about, “This is Coral Springs, why not a Taj Mahal?” How much fiscal responsibility is that showing?

      Lastly, I think it is great that you would vote for this project if you had the opportunity. That is your right. BUT THE POINT IS: The citizens are being asked to vote on a $14 million bond issue that will raise their taxes. BUT THEY ARE NOT BEING ALLOWED TO VOTE ON THE SINGLE MOST EXPENSIVE CONSTRUCTION PROJECT IN THE CITY’S HISTORY WHICH WILL HAVE A TAX INCREASE AT MORE THAN DOUBLE THE TAXES ON THE OTHER BOND ISSUE. Doesn’t that strike you as odd?

      • The Truth Seeker

        Tjb: These are guesstimates based on a lot of factors and analysis. I do agree there is no exact number until it happens but I believe the potential is there for that and more.

        Mr. Townblinder: Thank you but I think I’ll keep my name as when I state facts I believe they are accurate. My opinion when stated yes is my opinion, but at least it is based on known facts. You should probably keep your name too as you may be a bit blind about what is happing around town.

        Yes, you are right! Is it 100% legally a done deal? No, of course not, but realistically speaking the ball is in motion and I don’t believe it is going to stop. And if you want to make points please do so with facts – you stated the “current players have a policy of multi million dollars with no bid contracts”, can you please provide a link to that policy or actual evidence of a no-bid contract? If you are talking about the radio system, that
        is a sole source contract – very different than no-bid. I’d love to see this policy and some examples.

        “This would take the single most valuable piece of commercial property in the city off the tax rolls” Ummm, I do believe the truth is that property, along with the main building on North side of Sample are ALREADY off the tax rolls. So you must be referring to SELLING that property and getting it ON the tax rolls. That’s great, but in order to do that you need one thing – an actual interested buyer. And how much interest has there been on property in the area (like the old Publix lot) – yea none. But now we see that
        interest and guess what – the area on the North side will in fact be sold and put on tax rolls.

        And I believe you meant Coral Springs Drive by Mullins Park, not Coral Hills. That question has been analyzed and answered – it would not fit properly and it would do nothing to generate the interest in the ‘4 corners’ area.

        I’m glad you brought up Wellington, you must have told Skip and Joy about it too since they used it as another flawed example in the debate. So, let’s compare the same fruit – apples to apples. First, we have to use Wellingtons budgeted number as that’s all we have to compare to ours. If Wellington came in under, who’s to say ours can’t or won’t. Ok, so Wellington has a ‘Governmental Center’ aka City Hall as part of their ‘Municipal Complex’, same as our plans. But this is where your (and Skips and Joys) twisted facts come in. Wellingtons CITY HALL BUILDING was budgeted for $15m for 54k sq ft. That would be a cost of $277.78 per sq ft. Yes, the project was completed for $10.5m equaling a cost of $199.44 sq ft. Now, look at our proposed BUILDING (same as Wellingtons), not the whole complex. Our building, to compare equally to theirs is budgeted for $15.75m for 65k sq ft. That is a cost of $242.30 sq ft which is lower than their original budgeted cost! Yea, there are a lot of other potential variables but when you look at the actual FACTS we are right there in the ballpark. No more falsely comparing $10m (really $10.5) to $28. So, I call BS on that whole argument that we are looking at a crazy expensive ‘Taj Mahal’. I don’t care where you want to put it, who builds, it, etc. our proposed actual City Hall building is cost comparable to other cities.

        I’m not even sure what to say about a ‘long term resident’ who doesn’t even know where the current city hall is. I don’t care if you’ve even been in it, if you’ve ever driven trough the city on Sample Road you can’t miss it. That whole argument is just pointless and irrelevant.

        Find all the services we need in one place – the PD, FD, Theater and Gym? Are you really serious? Yea, I’m going to plan my Saturday afternoon to stop by the gym for a game, go file a complaint at the PD, thank the FD for a great spaghetti dinner and then catch a show at night. Be real – you yourself said ironically many people don’t know where city hall is – how many of those people would use, let alone know where the FD, PD or the gym is?

        I guess you can’t see things in context. I believe Homan was using her opponent’s own phrase to simply state Coral Springs deserves a ‘nice’ complex. I would in turn ask how much fiscal responsibility there is in filing for bankruptcy ironically reported by the same people who are recommending her. I actually like Holz better than Carter because he at least understands the vision, he just doesn’t agree with it. Carter just sees the whole thing as a simple 9-5 building. As nice a woman as she may be, with that narrow a vision I’d be afraid of her as a commissioner. I also don’t like the twisted truths (as in Wellington example) for political gain. Homan, like her or not, seems to have the vision and supports the city moving forward.

        And yes, lastly… no, I don’t find it odd at all. The revenue bonds DO NOT impact your ad valorem tax. You will not see municipal complex on your tax bill. It is paid through revenues of the city and it’s only because the city is financially strong enough they can do this, specifically to not increase your ad valorem tax. Since a GO bond DOES get added to your ad valorem taxes, it needs to be voted on. Would I have liked to vote on it – sure, but I also rather NOT have it as a tax increase which is why I don’t understand why you scream it will impact my tax double the GO bond.

        Sadly I think a lot of this is simple human nature. People are afraid of change, they like the warm, comfy status quo. But lets remember this country wouldn’t be great if it sat still. Change is what creates progress. This city has been stale long enough. The current commissioners have the guts to make the changes that will ultimately move this city forward and that is scary and uncomfortable to some. I for one am excited about the changes coming to the city and the current and future commissioners and city staff with
        the vision to do it. I would hope we have enough residents who want the same and don’t have the fear to hold back our progress.