SEMINOLE — Council members here have declared Seminole Mall a blighted site, a decision that will help clear the way for eventual renovation of the property.
"Yes, indeed, there are hazardous substances," Miami attorney Michael Goldstein told council members Tuesday.
Goldstein, who practices environmental law, said the contamination on the property comes from a dry cleaner and a gas station that were once on the property at 11201 Park Blvd. Goldstein represents Seminole Mall LP, which bought the property last year for $14.6 million. Goldstein asked the City Council to declare the property a brownfield.
By doing so, the council cleared the way for Seminole Mall LP to ask the state's help in clearing up the site. That help could include tax credits, protection from liability and access to state and federal grant money for the cleanup.
Goldstein conceded that the presence of contamination "significantly complicates redevelopment" of the mall. It's unclear at this point how developers will deal with the dirty soil. Possibilities include removing it or encapsulating it.
Assured that the city would not be on the hook for any problems or costs associated with the cleanup, council members said they were thrilled to be able to help the redevelopment process.
"This is an exciting project and a top project for our city," Mayor Leslie Waters said.
Council member Jim Quinn said he was looking forward to a future with a bright new downtown area for Seminole.
The mall, built in the 1960s, has long been considered as the city's downtown. But it's a downtown that has been in death throes for the past few years as smaller and larger stores have moved out. Previous owners have promised to redevelop the property but nothing ever got off the ground.
Now Seminole Mall LP looks as if it could put redevelopment in motion. Both Seminole Mall LP and Seminole Office LP, which bought the two office buildings on the northwest edge of the mall property, are operated out of the Palm Beach office of North American Development Group. NADG is a multinational corporation that specializes in the development, redevelopment and management of shopping centers. The office property is planned to be part of a revamped mall.
Anne Lindberg can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 893-8450.