County gets sobering update on efforts to redevelop urban area

Palm Beach County commissioners got a sobering update Tuesday on efforts to revitalize urban areas along Okeechobee Boulevard and Congress Avenue.

The county had designed a 29-mile section of the county an urban redevelopment area with special rules and requirements designed to spur economic development.

But the Great Recession and ongoing storm water retention problems hampered redevelopment efforts, much to the chagrin of commissioners.

“The plan failed,” Commissioner Shelley Vana said. “It failed miserably in my district. If anything, we made it worse.”

Compared to the county as a whole, the urban redevelopment area has higher unemployment and poverty rates and a lower per capita income.

County staff, which made a presentation on the area during a series of workshops Tuesday, is working on some changes with an eye to spurring redevelopment.

Commissioner Steven Abrams noted that the county’s plan to raise the sales tax could help pay for projects that would aid redevelopment efforts in the urban redevelopment area.

Commissioner Shelley Vana

Commissioner Shelley Vana

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