The Hollywood Commission unanimously agreed to purchase the Cosac properties and properties owned by Sean Cononie. The City of Hollywood will spend about $4.8 million on the entire deal. The main property involves at homeless shelter 1203 North Federal Highway that has generated controversy and complaints from local business owners. From January 1 2013 to July 23, 2014 there were 234 police calls and 411 fire calls at the homeless shelter and 374 police calls in the general area. For years, people have complained about the large number of homeless people around the shelter. Many people feel uncomfortable coming to the area and this has meant a loss of customers for businesses.
The City of Hollywood will spend $2,521,800 to buy the land and buildings from Cononie and another $2,521,800 in a post closing agreement between Cononie and the City that he will not operate a homeless shelter operation for 30 years in Hollywood. Cononine cannot even be indirectly involved with a homeless shelter or program in Hollywood. If there is a county emergency or cold day, he can pick up homeless people can take them to a shelter outside Hollywood. Cononie plans to build a new facility to shelter the homeless on three acres of land in unincorporated Broward County northwest of Interstate 595 and State Road Seven.
The City will obtain the money for the purchase from the rent collected from Margaritaville which is expected to open in July 2015. Margaritaville will pay $1 million in rent to the City annually and money from that rent will go toward the purchase of the properties. Also Commission agreed to amend to Fiscal Year 2015 budget to accommodate the purchase.
The City of Hollywood is planning to work with developers to improve North Federal Highway and make a desirable place to visit. The goal is apply the Complete Streets program and make it friendly to pedestrians and bicycle riders. While plans have not been finalized, it is expected that the homeless shelter will be demolished and the land redeveloped. Cosac will relocate all clients and the properties will be delivered vacant to developers.
“We want to develop this area. We are not turning our backs on the homeless but this is not a good place for a homeless shelter,” said City Manager Cathy Swanson-Rivenbark. She emphasized that negotiations between Cononine and the City had been respectful.
“I think it will be a good move for the City of Hollywood. This was a win-win for Hollywood. They want to redevelop Federal Highway. We are a chronic homeless shelter. We are not a prison. People don’t like to see the homeless on our property in wheelchairs. It scares people away and discourages business,” said Cononie.
The City of Hollywood has hired Laurie Ann Walton to serve as the coordinator for the City’s efforts to help the homeless.
During the meeting, a number of residents expressed concerns about the large amount of money being spent to buy Cononine’s and Cosac’s properties. One resident said the City was paying for too much for the land. Other residents expressed concern that more homeless shelters would open up and that one was already in operation on Sherman Street. Because there is a soup kitchen and other amenities for the homeless in Hollywood, some residents believe the homeless will continue to live in the area. There was concern that the homeless problem was not being handled properly.
Commissioner Peter Hernandez said the deal was not addressing the homeless problem in Hollywood.
Mayor Peter Bober said the deal would allow the City to open a new chapter on Federal Highway. He said that Cononie would be able to build a homeless facility in an area more suitable of his mission and that Hollywood could make significant improvements to that section of Federal Highway.
The date of the closing is six months from signing, on or before April 15, 2015.