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💰 Lobbying the neighborhood
🌕 Welcome to August. Look for the supermoon rising in the east around 8:30 tonight. For you today, one way that developers prevail, a teacher who turned to trivia and our Stet-vetted quiz.
Today’s newsletter is a 4-minute read.
🏣 When developers pay and no one knows
In a story for OnGardens last week, Joel reported about how a Palm Beach Gardens neighborhood association quietly took $650,000 from developers to back their project.
It’s happened before. Neighborhood support is so important to winning political support, developers are willing to pay for it.
They just don’t want anyone to know.
In 2006, The Related Group pledged $250,000 to the North-end Coalition of Neighborhoods to back the Icon condo tower in the 4300 block of North Flagler in West Palm Beach. That recently completed project is now two towers called Icon Marina Village.
After The Palm Beach Post’s Thomas Collins broke the story in November 2006, elected commissioners worried that they weren’t getting the group’s true sentiment when gauging support for the project.
Defenders argued that the payments don’t need to be announced since they aren’t crucial to whether a project meets the criteria for zoning.
Of note: While the payments are not illegal, a North-end coalition officer was sentenced in 2011 to a month in jail for pocketing $15,000 of the first $50,000 payment.
On Thursday, the Palm Beach Gardens City Council will hear the rezoning request of D.R. Horton and a local landowner to allow 111 townhomes on 18 acres outside Rustic Lakes on Northlake Boulevard.
The developers struck a deal in March to pay the Rustic Lakes Property Owners Association $650,000 for its support, as Joel reported. When the local planning board backed the project, no one told them about the financial arrangement.
It’s happened in Gardens before: As Collins reported in 2006, the Bent Tree Property Owners Association in Palm Beach Gardens agreed to support the neighboring Southampton townhome community, now called Hampton Cay, in exchange for a $25,000 contribution.
Ag Reserve, too. As The Post’s Mike Diamond reported in June 2022, the GL Homes Ag Reserve land swap found support from the neighboring Stonebridge Country Club and neighborhood association after a $4 million pledge.
A slightly different approach. The Related Group held listening sessions and distributed surveys to hear resident concerns as it pursues approval of a not yet announced Ritz-Carlton-branded condo tower at Flagler and 17th Street.
The developer “is willing to work with the City Commission, city staff and residents to help achieve these community benefit priorities for Pleasant City, Coleman Park and the North-end communities, including potential direct community investments,” the group Northend RISE wrote in a recent email.
Not everyone in Rustic Lakes is happy to support the D.R. Horton townhomes. Read Joel’s story here.
🥤 The juice
Fresh-squeezed news from all over
👎🏼 Power Poll influencers are the latest critics to blast West Palm Beach officials for launching a major downtown project — the now-shelved waterfront marina — without first seeking public input. (Power Poll)
⬆️ ⬇️ Juno Beach-based NextEra Energy's second-quarter earnings were up sharply as it added solar-power capacity. (MarketWatch) But NextEra Energy Partners, the company’s renewable energy arm, “whiffed badly” on second-quarter results, according to an analysis by The Motley Fool. Year over year, profits fell by $449 million. (The Motley Fool)
💊 Drugmaker Mallinckrodt has taken another step toward evading massive penalties for its role in spreading addictive oxycodone throughout Florida and the nation. The company wants to pay just $250 million, not the $1.7 billion it agreed to as part of a multistate settlement. (Wall Street Journal$ and Reuters)
Go deeper: Read Stet’s dive into local damage done by Mallinckrodt here.
👷 Suni Sands outcome: After a second, shorter meeting, marked by plenty of catcalls, the Jupiter Town Council voted 3-2 to allow some digging at Suni Sands, including land that might contain the graves of Native Americans. (ByJoeCapozzi.com)
💵 The new 288-unit Pine Ridge affordable housing complex overcharged tenants by more than $40,000 in the first six months after it opened, Andrew Marra reports. (The Palm Beach Post)
💰 Greystar, the international rental housing real estate firm, has picked up Gardens East, the 448-unit Palm Beach Gardens apartment complex at 10000 Alternate A1A, for $92 million. (South Florida Business Journal$)
💥 Quiz: Voter pileup ahead?
The dizzying array of changes to Florida voting laws may or may not create chaos at the polls, but they do present extra hurdles for voters.
🤔 561 insider: The mind behind Think and Drink Trivia
The friendly Think and Drink Trivia game at your neighborhood bar is run by a self-effacing former special education teacher who describes himself as really bad at trivia.
What’s happening: Steve Steckroth, 39, launched the business in 2008 in Palm Beach County. Today he operates trivia and Bingo games at 70 bars, restaurants and clubs. The competition draws players to the watering holes — often on nights that tend to be slow without them.
How it started: Steckroth regularly joined his friends at a trivia game at the former Palm Beach Ale House on Palm Beach Lakes Boulevard. “I would not contribute anything. I would have no clue. I would want to chat and not work the question.”
He started befriending the trivia host. Before long, he was running a weekly game at Two Georges Waterfront Grille in Boynton Beach, and his company was born.
How it grew: Often, restaurant owners or managers discover his business when they visit a venue that’s running a game, Steckroth said. “I hate sales so I always get nervous. I go, ‘I don’t know. How about (having a game on) Tuesday?’”
Steckroth discovered that his superpower is coming up with trivia questions. He also has two writers. He sends a batch of questions each day to the game hosts – many in South Florida and scattered from California to Virginia.
How it works: Games are run in four rounds of questions that hosts choose. Loud, energetic music between questions helps keep teams from overhearing each other. Many competitions end with a tiebreaker.
Time capsule: Writer Ron Hayes sets the Think and Drink scene at Two Georges in this 2015 story from The Coastal Star.
🛶 Adyeu! Pat is brushing up on her Louisiana Creole in advance of a long-delayed road trip to Louisiana’s Bayou Teche, and a little fais do-do.
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