By Bryan Boggiano
At a recent meeting, the city commission reviewed Mainstreet development updates, weighing their concerns and praises on the civic space and public safety components.
On June 22, Attorney Scott Backman presented on Mainstreet, along with city staff and developers.
Preliminary concept plans include a myriad of spaces devoted to residential, commercial, green space, and public safety uses. The area is roughly between Sample Road and Wiles Road, east of US 441 and west of Lyons Road.
Proposed residential uses include 375 townhomes, 165 villas, 380 condos, and 1,375 apartments.
Plans also call for 225,000 square feet of commercial space. Mainstreet’s green space includes several pocket parks, a reserve area, and a passive-use park with a walking trail.
One green area, tentatively known as Village Green, is a 2.1-acre plot of land with possible features, including a stage, open-air venue, playground, public art feature, hammock park, splash pad, butterfly canopy, and dog park.
Another potential feature is a new public safety complex, including Fire Rescue Station 113, a police department, fire administration offices, an emergency operations center, an IT server room, and a small arms firing range.
“This is an exciting time,” said City Manager Karen Brooks. “This is the biggest project the city has seen in my lifetime here and maybe ever.”
Some controversy arose over Mainstreet’s conceptual plans, not including an educational component such as a charter school.
“I cannot imagine community buy-in to the size of this project without an educational component,” said Mayor Josh Rydell.
Rydell stated schools in the north area are at capacity. Still, commissioners Jeffrey Wasserman and Jackie Railey countered him, saying schools are losing enrollment due to the voucher program and other factors.
Commissioner John Brodie said a school would be necessary to reduce enrollment stress on city schools, while Vice Mayor Sandy Welch said a charter school would let the city control its own destiny.
Ban said a charter school would not be financially feasible, while commissioners criticized the potential traffic and safety impacts.
“You see what kind of traffic a school generates, especially at drop-off and pickup,” Railey said. “This could be a major problem.”
The commission ultimately gave staff consensus to explore the educational component in a 3-2 vote. Rydell, Welch and Brodie voted in favor of it. Wasserman and Railey opposed it.
The commission also expressed concerns over traffic impacts and the potential cost of the public safety complex.
Preliminary conservative estimates place the cost of the complex between $60 million and $80 million, which could be covered through grant funding or a voter-approved bond, among other sources.
If the commission decided to take the bond route, they would have to file documents with the Broward County Supervisor of Elections Office in Spring 2024 and conduct a public outreach campaign with community meetings.
If voters approve the bond, construction on the complex would begin in early 2026 and continue through late 2027.
According to Brooks, if the bond passed, assuming its value is $60 million, taxpayers would absorb an extra $215 per year for 30 years. This value is based on a homeowner with a home value of $300,000.
Rydell, Brodie, and Wasserman expressed opposition, saying the price tag was too high and could climb. Welch and Railey stated the city needed to update and upgrade their services, and having a safety complex would increase collaboration amongst emergency officials.
“I have a huge heartburn with this much money,” Brodie said. “There’s got to be a more balanced approach to this than just throwing $80 million at this thing.”
The commission did not vote to approve or reject any specific parts of the project, but they and the staff will continue to discuss Mainstreet with residents.
In the Fall of 2023, developers anticipate approvals for rezoning, development agreements, and the development of regional impact. In Winter 2023/2024, they expect approvals for the master roadway and greenway site plans. They project the city to approve individual project uses through 2024.
“This project can potentially transform the entire city,” Brooks said.
- A University of Florida journalism graduate, Bryan plans to pursue geosciences at Florida International University for his master's. He has a strong interest in weather, entertainment, and journalism.
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