RIVIERA BEACH — Ground will be broken this Thursday for a $375 million redevelopment of Riviera Beach Marina, a project which city voters approved at a referendum last month.
But the controversial project is once again in the courts. A group called Citizen’s Task Force, which sued the city before regarding previous referendum ballot language, is suing again, alleging the language in the March 11 referendum to redevelop the marina, was confusing to the voters.
The referendum passed with a 74 percent approval favoring the redevelopment. Citizens Task Force wants a new referendum with all of the city’s redevelopment plans spelled out on the ballot.
The city has asked the court to dismiss the lawsuit and a judge is expected to rule by the end of this week.
“It’s very frustrating that they keep doing this,” City Attorney Pamela Ryan said about the latest lawsuit. “And if you ask why, they have no explainable reason. But the city keeps moving forward. We’re hoping for a favorable ruling when the judge rules, hopefully by the end of this week.”
The joint public-private sector project will be sited on 26 acres and will involve the city of Riviera Beach, the Riviera Beach Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA) and Viking Developers LLC.
The CRA describes it as “an exciting new chapter in the city’s history” and says it will provide 500 construction jobs over the next three years and an estimated 2,180 permanent jobs.
“This project will truly transform the city’s marina, one of the most spectacular waterfront locations in all of South Florida,” CRA chairwoman and city council member Judy Davis said in a statement announcing the April 10 groundbreaking.
“This will be an economic game-changer for the city and its residents. The success of the Marina District and the ongoing improvements along the Broadway Corridor are literally changing the face of this city. We will attract visitors in higher numbers than ever before, and that will spark the kind of economic development that will allow this great city to reach its potential,” Davis added.
According to the CRA, the first phase will include a two-story Riviera Beach Event Center with a main ballroom called Newcomb Hall that will seat up to 300 people. It will also house smaller meeting rooms for community and civic groups, a full-service restaurant, a café and a rooftop terrace.
It will also include a $4 million Makeover of Bicentennial Park which include amenities such as a portable stage and concession stands. Viking Developers, a subsidiary of New Jersey and Riviera Beach-based Viking Yachts, is the master developer that will lead the effort.
The CRA said Viking Developers will bring in restaurants, retailers and additional investment. Total private investment is projected at $336 million, with the CRA coming up with $39 million.
“We have pursued this development with great perseverance and determination. The Riviera Beach community is passionate about the public’s access to the marina,” Bob Healey, chairman/CEO of Viking said in the statement.
“When we’re finished, we’ll have a dynamic waterfront for city residents that will attract visitors from around Florida and beyond. We are proud to create something that will be a legacy for future generations and will be a job generator for local residents,” Healey said.