|By Susannah Bryan, Sun
SentinelMcClatchy-Tribune Regional News
April 04, 2013--HOLLYWOOD -- Margaritaville's developer says he needs more time to work out a deal with Starwood Capital -- and he got it on Wednesday.
Developer Lon Tabatchnick told commissioners he could not meet the city's April 10 deadline to take possession of the city-owned parcel.
Hollywood commissioners gave him a new deadline: July 5.
Tabatchnick plans to build the 17-story Margaritaville resort on 5 acres near Johnson Street and the Broadwalk. He plans to lease the land for 99 years, paying Hollywood $1 million in the first year alone.
Part of the deal requires Hollywood's redevelopment agency to kick in $23 million and Starwood Capital to invest $75 million.
"This is a complicated transaction," Tabatchnick told the commission.
Gavin Middleton, senior vice president for Starwood, reassured commissioners.
"We feel very confident in the project," he said. "We believe in it."
Still, critics wondered whether it would ever be built.
Resident Howard Sher ridiculed the city for giving away millions to another developer.
"We're going to trust this person to build a building, or be here six years from now granting one last extension," he said. "Fort Lauderdale would never put up with something like this. Only in Hollywood would we offer millions and millions and be the laughingstock everywhere."
Supporters urged the commission to give the developer more time.
"We want to see this project become a reality," said Anne Hotte, CEO and executive director of the Greater Hollywood Chamber of Commerce. She noted Tabatchnick was paying the city $20,000 a month in rent.
"At the rate of $20,000 a month, what do we have to lose?"
Mayor Peter Bober argued the city really had no choice.
"It's not like we have five other people ready to put a shovel in the ground tomorrow," he said. "The consequences of not giving an extension [are that] we'd have to start all over."
Officials approved the extension 5-2, with Commissioners Peter Hernandez and Traci Callari dissenting.
Commissioner Kevin Biederman worried some might see Hollywood as being played.
Both Biederman and Hernandez suggested the developer pay a penalty for not meeting the April 10 deadline, but failed to garner support.
"Why can't we just go out and see if there are other people out there willing to do this thing?" Hernandez said. "We're giving time for a deal to be ironed out while we sit here holding our hands, waiting to see what comes back to us."
Commissioner Patty Asseff, a Realtor whose district includes the beach, said the project was too important to give up on now.
"I have five people waiting to put a shovel in the ground after you build," she said. "This is a very big turning point for the beach."
Callari said she felt torn.
"It's that old saying, you're damned if you do and you're damned if you don't," she said.
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