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This Hollywood Commissioner Doesn't Want Residents Paying For Margaritaville

Margaritaville Hollywood Beach Resort

City of Hollywood commissioner Peter Hernandez does not like the idea of taxpayers paying for Margaritaville. 

In 2012, the City of Hollywood offered the owners of the Margaritaville Hollywood Beach Resort, KLS Capital Partners, a $28 million grant for the construction of the resort and an $80 million loan for a new parking garage. The hope: to lure more tourists to the area with a new 17-story, Jimmy Buffet-themed resort. 

The developers took the deal and built the resort and parking garage. That stirred controversy about the use of taxpayers' money. Hernandez was the first person to question the deal and its merits; he ultimately voted "no."

The loan was used to build a new parking garage that holds 600 parking spaces -- 100 for hotel residents and the rest for the public. The loan is supposed to be paid off by the revenue generated from new public parking and taxpayers but Hernandez argues that parking spots are overpriced and not open to the public. Weekday parking rates are $3 an hour and weekend rates are $4 an hour. All day parking is $30. He says residents of the city now have "less parking spots and less revenue."

Hernandez joined Sundial to talk about why he is against the deal and what he would have done differently.

WLRN: What kind of revenue are you getting from the parking garage?

Hernandez: The parking revenue goes to pay [the] debt. Ironically, there was a surplus last year and that money, $612,000, went to the developer rather than to go to offset the debt. God forbid we have a storm and the hotel is not in operation and people are not coming to the beach -- the city is ultimately responsible for paying down debt and that's the taxpayers, the residents of the City of Hollywood. That's the problem I have with this.

What about tax revenue from the hotel and the visitors that come? Does that make up for anything?

The revenue from hotel visitors will make up for some of the loan, but that is not the problem I had with the hotel coming to this site. The problem that I had was the deal the city was getting into (granting the loan). We have received about $7 million in change and we're spending $13 million to build a garage a few blocks away to offset the shortage of parking. That doesn't make any sense. 

If you could renegotiate this deal how would you do it differently?

I would try to give the incentive for the developer. Tell them to purchase next door so that we could continue providing the parking spaces that the residents of the city of Hollywood relied on for decades, so they could come and enjoy the beach and we would be able to get the tax benefits from the place next door. It boils down to what are we getting out of [the deal] now? We have a shortage of parking. We have no more revenue than what we used to have before. Now we have a higher parking rate and we are not getting any revenues from that for the next 30 years.

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