Hallandale invests in $1.5 million to create restaurant district

The Hallandale Beach City Commission is looking to recapture the spirit of Wynwood Yard after the venerable space closed earlier this year, by investing about $1.5 million on 11 NE First Ave.

The commission unanimously voted on May 13 to create a lively restaurant district on a street that has been vacant for decades.

The developer of the proposed space, Elias Benaim, is seeking to reuse shipping container for a restaurant space, according to the Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA).

Wynwood Yard was an outdoor space that held events with music and entertainment, along with restaurants. Amid the neighborhood’s increasing gentrification, it closed to make way for development that will include apartments, parking and more.

About $1 million in funding for the project will come from Hallendale’s general fund. The remaining $490,000 will be granted to the city by the Community Redevelopment Agency to partially fund the construction of the restaurant.

A CRA is authorized under Florida Statute as a mechanism to eliminate slum and blighted conditions within a designated area. The CRA executive director, Jeremy Earle, said the CRA relies on the governing body to which it is attached for the authority which it operates.

“This money would cover the expansion of the restaurant, the addition of a second-floor seating area, and infrastructure improvements that are needed,” said Earle.

In the event of a default within the next five years, the developer would have to pay back the amount of the grant funds that the CRA provided, according to the CRA.

Commissioner Michele Lazarow shared how nervous, but excited, she is to see how this turns out.

“My only concern with this is the parking. There’s issues with parking all over that street,” Lazarow said.

In the city commission meeting, Earle said this has been envisioned for the past 30 years and was never actually put into works until now.

“This is a small area that has been vacant for decades and decades, and now it will have economic use and drive redevelopment in that area,” Earle said.

Hallandale Beach has a population of 40,000 people. At another meeting, Commissioner Mike Butler said the city is broke, and questioned if pouring money into this project is a good idea.

There was a lot of controversy on the ways to use that space and the amount of money to use towards it.

All council members seemed excited about the plan moving forward. But they are still taking a big risk because First Avenue is now a quiet area.

Lazarow said Earle has been doing CRAs for more than a decade, and suggested the commission should put its faith in him.

“We are taking a big risk. But if it doesn’t end up being what I thought it would, I could live with that,” said Lazarow.

Daniela Benarroch is a student majoring in journalism at FIU. She’s working in a CPA firm while looking to pursue a second degree in accounting. She has experience in writing for a marketing company called 97th Floor.