Thursday, June 19th, 2008

Downtown Hollywood condo-retail project gets initial approval


12:14 AM EST, February 19, 2009

HOLLYWOOD – Plans for what could be a 25-story condo and retail project in downtown received an initial approval on Wednesday, despite the protest of nearby residents who say it’s too high.

Commissioners passed on first reading a zoning change that would allow the proposed Hollywood Circle to tower above all other buildings around Young Circle.

The approval came even though commissioners have not yet received the recommendations of an architect being paid $200,000 to draw up a vision for downtown.

Even the city’s planning director has issues with the proposed neck-arching height.

Under the proposal, the $100 million Hollywood Circle will include 424 condo units and an eight-story parking garage. It also will have 46,000 square feet to build a new home for a Publix supermarket.

Developer Chip Abele plans to build in phases, starting with the supermarket and stores. He would build the residential part when the real estate market improves.

The project has gained much support from the Hollywood business community and from residents in Parkside, just south of Young Circle.

“Life presents opportunity and here’s a great opportunity in this economy,” said Parkside resident Barry Stock. “We need help in this economy and we shouldn’t complain to the Lone Ranger that his horse’s legs are too long.”

But residents in adjacent Hollywood Lakes say they want to see a project there, but not one that high. They wanted Wednesday’s meeting postponed until after March 10, when architect, Bernard Zyscovich, presents his study. Officials plan to incorporate the study — including building heights — into city zoning laws.

Mayor Peter Bober and Commissioners Richard Blattner and Heidi O’Sheehan voted to postpone the meeting.

“I don’t think this is consistent to what the majority of the Hollywood residents want to see,” said Bober.

The rest of the commission didn’t want to wait, and received the scorn of a number of residents.

“You all talk about being stewards of our money, but how do you explain to your districts that you spent $200,000 and then disregarded the report,” said Siobhan McLaughlin. ” I find that absolute disheartening. It’s a disgrace.”

Commissioner Patty Asseff, whose district covers the area, said she wanted to move quickly on correcting the blighted corner.

“It’s been too many years,” said Asseff. “Everyone has been waiting patiently, and now is the time to finally do it.”

Hollywood Lakes residents are not the only ones concerned with the project’s height.

City Planning Director Jaye Epstein said the developer should lower the height at least three floors before the plan returns for a final vote in upcoming weeks.

A different project, on the southeast corner, has already been approved at 22-stories. Epstein said that should be the limit for all of downtown.

“The message should be that we’re fed up ad we’re not taking it anymore. It has to stop,” said Epstein. “Whether its Zyscovich or Epstein, I think it needs to stop. Stop the madness”

But Abele said lowering the residential tower would be costly and could mean having to raise the rent on tenants.

“We’re in a horrendous economy. To chop down or take things away from the project is not the right thing to do,” he said.

Commissioners have not yet scheduled a final vote that would include setting



Hollywood weighs zoning change for project at Young Circle before study results are in

Condo-retail plan also too big, some neighbors say

HOLLYWOOD – Think the 14-story Radius condo tower at downtown’s Young Circle is tall?

Wait until you see plans for the project next door.

City commissioners today will consider a zoning change to allow a developer to build a 25-story condo and retail project on the rundown northeast corner of Young Circle.

Neighbors to the east in Hollywood Lakes say the proposed Hollywood Circle project is too big. Their main gripe, however, is the timing of today’s hearing, set for 5:30 p.m. in City Hall.
The city is awaiting the results of a $200,000 study from an architect who is drawing up a vision for downtown, known as the Zyscovich Plan. The idea is to eventually incorporate the study — including building heights — into city zoning laws.

An early version of the plan frowns on tall buildings like the 25-story condo. Preliminary results may come next month.

“Why can’t we wait a few weeks? It’s not that we are trying to block the project,” said Terry Cantrell, president of the Hollywood Lakes Civic Association. “What we want is something that is not just the vision of a developer, but also the vision of the people of Hollywood.”

Under the proposal from Southern Facilities Development, Hollywood Circle will include 424 condo units and an eight-story parking garage. It also will have 46,000 square feet to build a new home for a Publix supermarket.

Developer Chip Abele plans to build in phases, starting with the supermarket and stores. He would build the condo part when the real estate market improves.

The 4.6-acre property has vacant land, a pizza joint and a dilapidated rental building. To the south of Young Circle, residents of the up-and-coming Parkside neighborhood are supporters. “We think it’s a wonderful project,” said Ken Crawford, president of the Parkside Civic Association. “It’s going to replace that horrific corner.”


Sunday, 01 February 2009

Police Dept. works with community to curb home vacancies, crime

While the number of foreclosed homes keeps rising, Hollywood is doing what it can to keep crime down, and homeowners in their homes, say city officials and civic activists.

“We not aware of any increase of crime due to vacant homes, but we’ve had a few calls about homes that are vacant and targeted by people trying to remove central AC units,” said Hollywood Police Department Public Information Officer Manny Marino.

 Vandals raid vacant homes for metals such as copper that may be in air conditioners. These metals can then be sold for scrap, Marino said.

Additionally, said Marino, if a home is vacant, there’s nobody at home to call the police, which doesn’t help to prevent crime.

“[Vacancy] doesn’t aid our cause at all. It creates pockets where people can hide. They look at lighting and see landscaping overgrown—that prevents a clear view to see if someone is breaking in, especially if several homes on the street are vacant, “Marino said.

However, Hollywood Police are doing what they can to enlist citizen help.  Mobile Patrol is one example of a citizen watchdog group.

Citizens go out in police vehicles, usually a white Crown Victoria that has amber lights like other police vehicles.  The cars are labeled, “Crime Watch Mobile Patrol” and are manned by two citizens at a time. Most of these citizens have completed the voluntary Citizens Academy, said Marino.
These citizen officer assistants are given cell phones by the police department.

“They’ve been phenomenal. Traditionally they patrol in their own neighborhood, but I’ve seen these guys everywhere, shopping plazas, streets… We ask them to call police dispatch if they see something suspicious. Sometimes we ask, ‘Could you swing by’ and they usually do,” said Marino.

Additionally, the city of Hollywood has twelve Crime Watch Neighborhood Advisory Board Coordinators. 
These volunteers are appointed by the city commission. The coordinators are not required to participate in mobile patrols, but Marino said at least half of them do. 

Currently, one vacancy exists for the North Beach Area that borders Atlantic Ocean on the east to Intra-Coastal Waterway on the west, and north of Johnson to northern city limits.

“Citizens Academy is a voluntary program that educates citizens on how things get done in the police department,” added Marino.

He said Citizens Academy recently added a section on liability so that the entire pool of graduates would be eligible for mobile patrol.
But despite police programs, Marino asked citizens to remain vigilant in their neighborhoods.
“In the spirit of Crime Watch, if people have a lot of foreclosed or vacant homes, pay attention. It may just be kids playing, or homeless people showing up, but if you see any suspicious activity, and if you’re not comfortable calling 911, call police non-emergency at 954 967-HELP (4357),” said Marino.

The issue of foreclosure-related crime first entered the arena when City commissioner Richard Blattner raised the concern in November, 2007 at a city commission meeting.
Blattner said the issue was a pet project of his because of his experience in re-development prior to becoming a commissioner.

At the meeting, Blattner expressed concern then that unoccupied and abandoned homes might lead to an increase in crime.
He then requested both the offices of Code Enforcement and the Department of Housing and Community Redevelopment evaluate the situations and institute crime reducing measures.

He also asked residents to keep watchful eyes.
“In this year’s budget, we asked for a quarter of a million dollars into order to remediate these properties. We reallocated money in Community redevelopment from and directed them to take money they might have spent for rehabilitation and spend it for this,” said Blattner in a recent telephone interview.
Blattner explained that Block Grant Community Redevelopment receives funds from the state and are required to spend that money in specific ways to help moderate income families.

But the community has been very proactive, he said.

Combating the effects of mass foreclosures, county and state conducted workshops throughout Broward County, one of which was held in Hallandale.

Other homeowner associations have also conducted several foreclosure prevention workshops and are continuing to do so, he said.

“These homes that are foreclosed are going to be trashed, so these homes while someone may purchase them inexpensively they have to put money into them. We have to make sure issues are addressed,” said Blattner.

However, he takes comfort in the amount of effort that is being put out to help Hollywood home owners.

“I’m pretty comfortable with what the city is doing by combining police resources, code enforcement, and housing and community redevelopment, and cooperating to minimize the impact of foreclosed properties on the neighborhood. We’re working with the neighbors and would like their support, and we’re very sensitive that this is going to cause a lot of pain and heartache,” said Blattner.

 However, while the future for foreclosures looks bleak until Federal money finds its way into those who can re-invest; civic associations are doing their best to keep homeowners informed about options and their rights.

Interim Director for the city’s Department of Housing & Community Redevelopment Jeannette Smith said she is able to identify where most home foreclosures are in Hollywood, but no one seems to be tracking crime in relation to the vacant properties.

“Many of the foreclosures are located in: District 2; Pembroke Pines north to Stirling Rd. and I-95 west to Federal Highway, and District 5; Hollywood Blvd. north to Stirling Rd. and Turnpike west to about 72nd Street,” Smith said in an email to the Gazette.

President of Parkside Civic Association Ken Crawford said that while Parkside does have many foreclosures, they have not seen an increase in crime that is clearly attributed to vacant homes.

“Yes there might be a vagrant here or there but nothing out of the normal day to day occurrence,” he said.

However, he said the civic group works closely with Neighborhood Team Leaders Officer John Herl and Hollywood Police Department Chief Chad Wagner to keep the neighborhood safe.

“Many members including myself monitor the neighborhood and report any activity we feel is questionable and the communication between the police and us is stronger than ever. We also have a great presence by routine patrols in and around Parkside and this too is a big help in deterring crime,” said Crawford.

Additionally, he said, because their streets can be dark, the association has plans to dispense door hangers to remind property owners to turn porch lights on. Crawford said he personally drives around the area as well and calls Florida Power & Light asking for replacements if any street pole lights are out.

“Light up Parkside” is our motto. Any little help can make a big difference,” Crawford said, adding, “I have to say I have an awesome group of people who really look out for the neighborhood and each other. That is what makes a neighborhood!!”

Parkside Civic Association also has ‘Block Watch’ in which neighbors watch out for each other and unusual incidents, said Crawford.

 Washington Park Homeowners Association, Inc. President and Founder/President Community Enhancement Collaboration, Inc. Nadine McCrea said she doesn’t believe foreclosures have affected her area in terms of increasing crime. But the economy has affected those in her district.

“There are families losing jobs, their homes and each other.  It is important to me to try my best to help any families who step forward to look at various options. I don’t want to see any of my neighbors move, unless they want to move.  I have been successful helping keep several families in their home by the way of finding funds or loan modification agreements,” McCrea said.

Mel Pollak, who is both President of both Hollywood Hills Civic Association and Council of Civic Associations, said he is aware of some people breaking in and camping out, but he doesn’t know how prevalent it is. He does however, have faith in city agencies helping to reduce crime.

“Code enforcement and resource officers are very aware of the homes that are foreclosed and predominantly in neighborhoods that would include Royal Poinciana, Parkside, and some in West Hollywood. Code Enforcement and neighborhood resource officers arrange for board ups, chlorine dumps from pools, trash removal and, grass cutting. 

They also talk to the neighbors, and say if there is any activity, let us know,” said Pollak.

However, Pollak is more focused on helping Hollywood homeowners stay in their homes and protect their credit.

The Council of Civic Associations that consists of 17 city association representatives is holding a series of workshops to inform homeowners, lawyers and real estate brokers on how to prevent against foreclosure and eviction.

Three workshops already held on Hollywood Beach, the Lippman Center and a third location were very well attended. Two more workshops are planned for late January.

“We bring in speakers, bankers, brokers, mortgage brokers, and they say to the participants — if you are on the verge of foreclosure, here’s what you should be doing…,” Pollak said.

According to Pollak, the workshop idea emerged around six months ago when the association voted to pursue the foreclosure situation in Hollywood.

“Hollywood has the third largest foreclosure rate in Broward. The Housing Department doesn’t have that much staff to handle thousands of people in distress. I met with the Housing Department and found that what we needed from the city was their help and the use of their buildings for the seminars,” said Pollak.

Pollak said he then found and screened  six different reputable companies who screen have  non-profit organizations, and that could help people who can’t afford to pursue help themselves stave off foreclosure and eviction.

Faith based Community Development Outreach is one such organization to help people who are financially unable to pay. It is funded by corporations, said Pollak.

AARP is one sponsor of the workshops.

Pollak said Broward County Dept of Housing has also set up funding for people who cannot afford it, and for those residents lost their jobs and are behind in payments but not so much that it’s too late to help.

Topics addressed in workshops include: modification of mortgages, successful short sales, identifying truth in lending violations where lender might actually owe money, truth about the Federal bailout, refinancing if someone is upside down on loan and house value, and strategies to avoid foreclosure, said Pollak.

During the workshops, said Pollak, attendees view a PowerPoint presentation. 


“Someone goes through the steps and holds a question and answer session. We have desks all around the room and professionals who will council them for one hour, and will meet again in a private arranged session. The attendee then may wind up paying if capable of paying but less than they would ordinarily,” said Pollak.

Also on hand are three or four corporations who have specially trained real estate people who are forensic accountants, and forensic lawyers, said Pollak. 

These accountants and attorneys are particularly helpful, he said, because 50% of all these [bad] loans which were written violate Truth in Lending laws.

“Many of mortgages were written with improper paperwork, and many of those paperworks were repackaged and lost. These people make heads or tails of it,” he said.them all over. Sometimes we ask, ‘Could you swing by’ and they usually do,” said Marino.




Please tell every dog or cat owner you know. Even if you don’t have a pet, please pass this to those who do.

Over the weekend the doting owner of two young lab mixes purchased Cocoa Mulch from Target ( A French owned Cmpany) to use in their garden. They loved the way it smelled and it was advertised to keep cats away from their garden. Their dog Calypso decided that the mulch smelled good enough to eat and devoured a large helping. She vomited a few times which was typical when she eats something new but wasn’t acting lethargic in any way. The next day, Mom woke up and took Calypso out for her morning walk . Half way through the walk, she had a seizure and died instantly.

Although the mulch had NO warnings printed on the label, upon further investigation on the company’s website, this product is HIGHLY toxic to dogs and cats.

Cocoa Mulch
is manufactured by Hershey’s, and they claim that ‘It is true that studies have shown that 50% of the dogs that eat Cocoa Mulch can suffer physical harm to a variety of degrees (depending on each individual dog). However, 98% of all dogs won’t eat it.’

This Snopes site gives the following information:

Cocoa Mulch, which is sold by Home Depot, Foreman’s Garden Supply and other Garden supply stores, contains a lethal ingredient called ‘ Theobromine‘. It is lethal to dogs and cats. It smells like chocolate and it really attracts dogs. They will ingest this stuff and die. Several deaths already occurred in the last 2-3 weeks. Theobromine is in all chocolate, especially dark or baker’s chocolate which is toxic to dogs. Cocoa bean shells contain potentially toxic quantities of theobromine, a xanthine compound similar in effects to caffeine and theophylline. A dog that ingested a lethal quantity of garden mulch made from cacao bean shells developed severe convulsions and died 17 hours later. Analysis of the stomach contents and the ingested cacao bean shells revealed the presence of lethal amounts of theobromine.




Hollywood updates residents about downtown plan, gathers input

Hollywood forum generates input on plan for Young Circle area

November 2, 2008




Hollywood residents were updated on the city’s 2004 Vision and Master Plan for Downtown at a recent forum.

The forum, at City Hall, was the seventh in a series of meetings dating to 2003 informing the public on upcoming changes to the Young Circle area east of Interstate 95.

Bernard Zyscovich, founder and principal of Miami-based Zyscovich Architects, presented the plan to residents.

His firm specializes in urban planning, interior design and landscape architecture, and has collaborated with the city’s downtown Community Redevelopment Agency.

“We’re looking forward to creating a downtown Hollywood that incorporates the best parts of all the neighborhood characteristics and the history,” Zyscovich said.

The meeting’s primary goal was to receive feedback from the public while presenting a vision for the city, Zyscovich said.

Various initiatives were discussed, including proposals for new zoning guidelines, a north downtown office/mixed-use district and plans for the Federal Highway corridor. While all the changes are an expansion of the Hollywood Citywide Master Plan adopted in 2001, Zyscovich hopes to offer a fresh eye to the project while injecting an emphasis on culture and the arts. He also will seek to preserve historical aspects of downtown.

Ken Crawford, president of the Parkside Civic Association, is looking forward to the city’s renovations but is wary of encroaching development. Parkside is an enclave that is home to several historic structures, and he would like the city to keep that in mind when it comes to planning.

“We want to preserve the integrity of our neighborhood,” Crawford said. “We’re for some development, but we’re very cautious of too much development where it’s going to destroy the quality of our neighborhood.”

Another resident voiced concerns over whether property owners were adequately involved in the planning process.

Zyscovich is aware of the concerns and seeks to implement a plan that produces a self-sustaining neighborly environment while listening to property owners’ ideas.

His vision includes bike lanes and two-way traffic lanes to encourage strolling and bike riding. Other layout plans for areas such as South Beach and Miracle Mile in Coral Gables will be studied for elements that may benefit Hollywood.

Additional public meetings are planned in the near future.

“There will be different meetings of different sizes,” said Suria Yaffar, design director at the firm. “There will be community meetings with different stakeholder groups: the downtown business associations, the Lakes association, different homeowner associations and more public meetings like this.”

Hollywood’s plans to trade land for housing downtown opposed




Local Cinema

Friday, June 13th, 2008
Parkside Is excited and supports this wonderful movie house

Parkside Is excited and supports this wonderful movie house