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Riviera Beach plans to spend millions to rebuild municipal facilities and 'reimagine' the city

A rendering of City Hall at Broadway in the City of Riviera Beach, part of the "Reimagine Riviera Beach" city redevelopment project sits among other renderings on poster boards in a carpeted room
City of Riviera Beach
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A rendering of City Hall at Broadway in the City of Riviera Beach, part of the "Reimagine Riviera Beach" city redevelopment project.

This post has been updated.

Riviera Beach plans to spend hundreds of millions of dollars to break down, move and redevelop many of its municipal facilities — including its aging City Hall.

The “Reimagine Riviera Beach” campaign includes the redevelopment of fire and police stations, a water treatment plant, libraries, and a community center.

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“It’s the city’s way of envisioning what we want Riviera Beach to look like in the next few years,'' said Marsha Noel, assistant to the city manager.

She says the project aims to change a long-standing narrative surrounding the waterfront city, known for a lack of development.

“We have a wonderful beach. We have a wonderful waterway. We have a wonderful community, great culture, [and] diversity that’s coming into our city,” said Noel. “And ‘reimagine’ allows us to leverage that by being visionaries on behalf of our community who have communicated to us throughout the years, for a need for progress.”

During a preliminary discussion and workshop with the community earlier this year, Randy M. Sherman, the city's director of finance and administrative services, said that the campaign involves up to nine different projects and that funding them won't necessarily be straightforward. Each project could be funded by different revenue sources.

Noel said the city of nearly 35,000 residents is weighing all of its options to finance the $400 million project including: federal and state grants, bonds, or a penny sales tax. Private sector funding could come from things like impact fees, development rights and land leases.

Half the money will go toward public facilities and the other half to mixed-use properties. Noel said completion of the development will take several years.

She said the city is also taking an environmentally-friendly approach — many of the new sites will be built on previously developed land. The construction planning process will also include environmental studies and evaluations.

Upgrades also include improvement to the city’s urban farm.

“The city of Riviera Beach is a food desert. We only have one grocery store here and that's Publix, which is right off of Blue Heron [Boulevard] and just next to the bridge,” said Noel. “And so we understand that nutrition, health and wellness is critical to the survivability of any community — and we want to make sure we close that gap.”

The Riviera Beach City Council recently approved an allocation of $1.5 million to move the aging City Hall on Blue Heron Boulevard to Broadway Avenue. They expect to break ground on that project in 2022.

Wilkine Brutus is a reporter and producer for WLRN and a guest faculty member at the Poynter Institute. The South Florida native produces stories on topics surrounding local news, culture, art, politics and current affairs.