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Palm Beach Post (Florida)

The A.G. Holley State Hospital road to transformation can officially begin.

Lantana Development LLC., a partnership between Southeast Legacy and Wexford Capital, plans to close on the 70-plus-acre property by Friday and will wire $15.6 million to the state, said the developer's attorney, Alan Ciklin.

The payment will come just days after the Lantana Town Council agreed to accept $2.5 million from the developer to move the ballfields that take up prime space in front of the former tuberculosis hospital.

But still, it's a long road ahead.

"There's going to be ­many things consistently coming up in the next few months to make everything happen, whether it's demolition permits or anything else. It's not going to be a one approval-type of thing," Lantana Mayor David Stewart said at the Town Council meeting Monday. "Hopefully, we can all go forward and look at the results at the end of the road."

A.G. Holley was the state's last free-standing tuberculosis hospital, run by the Department of Health. State legislators closed the hospital in July 2012 and in March, Gov. Rick Scott and his cabinet unanimously agreed to sell the property to Southeast Legacy, which since has entered into the partnership to form Lantana Development, Ciklin said.

It is still unclear what the property will become, but keeping the ballfields has been important to the council since the beginning.

The $2.5 million payment to the town is part of a total of $3.5 million -- $1 million was given to the town by the state -- to be used to develop a sports complex on 11 acres behind the hospital.

On Monday, the Town Council approved a motion to amend the lease agreement with the state for the 11 acres, which Stewart described as the first of several steps to be able to move the fields.

The council then unanimously agreed to approve the $2.5 million deal with the developer.

"This agreement ... it's a gentleman's agreement but it is in writing so that we protect the town and protect the developer," Stewart said.

"So that'll be a total of $3.5 million to pay for the moving of the ballfields or whatever they end up being," Stewart said. "Whether it's soccer fields, ballfields, whatever, those are kind of the devilish details of the future."

In June, the Lantana Town Council approved a first reading on zoning and land-use designation changes from mixed-use industrial to mixed-use development. The council voted 3-2 to change the land use, with Vice Mayor Lynn Moorhouse and Council Member Philip Aridas against it. The zoning change was unanimously approved.

At that meeting, Urban Design Kilday Studios presented a traffic plan, which included a residential, retail and charter school scenario. However, the firm says the site might not end up like that.

Stewart said the charter school idea started when nearby Palm Beach Maritime Academy showed interest in building a large facility there. Stewart said he's also heard talk of a high-end grocery store.


August 28, 2014


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