Tag Archives: Government Management

Meet Kim Briesemeister and Chris Brown of Redevelopment Management Associates in Pompano Beach

Via VoyageMIA

Today we’d like to introduce you to Kim Briesemeister and Chris Brown.

Chris and Kim have been in the redevelopment field for over 30 years. Chris’s background in architecture set the stage for a career in real estate development and ultimately to become a partner in his own firm at RMA. Kim started her career abroad in the Netherlands Antilles, first as Marketing Director and later as Executive Director of the Downtown Management Organization (DMO), eventually moving to work within cities throughout Florida as CRA Director.

In 2009, RMA was formed when Chris and Kim saw a need to provide highly technical skills to government clients who were struggling with blighted and run down areas within their municipalities. The ultimate goal was provide services to cities who wanted to work on improving their economic health, their quality of life and promote economic activity.

Their first client, the City of Pompano Beach, had suffered from years of deterioration and a poor image, especially from a development standpoint. During the last real estate cycle, while other cities were attracting new developments and enjoying an expanded tax base from all the new growth, Pompano lagged behind as it was passed over by the development and business communities. Even being in the height of the red-hot real estate market and being conveniently located right next to Ft. Lauderdale didn’t put Pompano on the development map; over several years, only one residential project was built.

When RMA was hired by the City in 2009, they were able to identify what was holding the city back and put plans into place to overcome the barriers preventing attraction of investment to the City. RMA also assisted the city in figuring out how to fund the public improvements that would ultimately transform the city’s image of being tired, dated and blighted, to a trendy, desirable hot spot for investment.

With all the changes being implemented in Pompano, word of RMA’s unique approach to city revitalization spread and the firm began to grow. Each new employee embraced the company culture of creating quality urban redevelopment with passion, integrity and hard work. With over 40 employees deployed in various cities throughout South Florida, and recently out of state and into South Carolina, the firm continues to grow to provide service to its growing client base.

After studying and working in many cities over multiple decades, including being in the redevelopment field abroad, Kim and Chris noticed that many cities suffer from the same issues yet struggle to find the right path towards revitalization. With that in mind, the two decided to write a book to guide cities through the process. In 2015, they published Reinventing Your City. The book highlights the eight steps needed to implement a successful revitalization program and provides local and international case studies.

Reinventing Your City

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall? And if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?

Has launching a new business with our unique and highly specialized services been smooth? Of course not. First of all, we did not avoid some of the obvious challenges almost everyone faces when opening a new business, including having enough time and resources, time to service clients while keeping “back of house” in order, and time to hire new people quickly as we grew. Eventually, we built up an administrative team and easily grew from 15 to 40 people. The rapid growth created a new challenge of inadequate office space. We kept expanding into the next bays of our office building until there was nowhere to expand to. That’s when we learned the valuable lesson of having control over your own space and its needs and bought two small office buildings; one we would immediately occupy and one we could grow into.

Probably the most difficult obstacle our firm faces today is politics. It’s an ugly subject to contend with. We have witnessed hard working, well intended and thoughtful elected officials take charge of their cities and finally make the right plans for the future, only to have an election take place where everything they had worked for gets torn apart by a new set of commissioners that tilt the voting block in a different direction. Those cities ultimately fall right back into the abyss of blight or turmoil and nothing happens for years. We write a lot about this situation in our book, Reinventing Your City.

RMA (Redevelopment Management Associates) – what should we know? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?

In summary, we are change agents. We transform cities that are suffering from lack of direction, a poor image, blighted or outdated public realms, lack of business investment, weak commercial corridors or commerce, etc. and set them on a path for revitalization. Change is scary to a lot of people and the process can get derailed quite easily if not managed correctly. We are most proud of our ability to see the future of a city and create a vision that they can buy into and build upon over an extended period of time. Our plans and visions aren’t just about improving roads and parks and plazas, and are not just about how to attract new types of businesses or industry. Our plans literally reinvent the city and create actual change. We are masters at implementing these plans and making sure the plans don’t sit on a shelf. Part of that comes from understanding the real estate and business side of what a city must do to prompt the change. That could include analyzing how to fund and finance the plans, defining the organizational structure needed to implement the vision, or defining the policies elected officials must take to turn the city in a different direction.

What moment in your career do you look back most fondly on?

We are very proud of our book, Reinventing Your City. After working in the redevelopment field for 30 years, we could see why some cities had created a desirable environment for residents, businesses and visitors, and why some did not. The ability to help other cities truly understand the crucial elements of a successful revitalization program was very rewarding. Some cities even bought the book and had their top-level directors read it!

Another proud moment happens when a city finally reaches the point when they can clearly say that change started based on a specific event or happening, and they can feel the electricity in the room because change has started. It’s a pivotal time for that city.
It happens differently each time, but in one city, Pompano Beach, it happened at a city commission meeting. For decades, a group of about 100 condominium residents (red shirts) had a stronghold on a beach area and had managed to keep public parking away so nobody else, other than themselves, could easily access the beach. After working on the issue for a year, the 100 people in red shirts were reduced to 10, and there were 100 yellow shirts (the agents for change) telling the commissioners they wanted to also be able to use the beach as well and that they wanted parking. The redshirt leader stood up a stated she didn’t want “people” there, and the whole room fell silent. It was suddenly and blatantly apparent by the selfish nature of the comment, that something had to change. After a minute, the stunned Mayor said, “Well, the tides have turned in our little city and it’s different now.”

Today, there is a stunning new restaurant and two more planned on the beach, along with an iconic 600 space parking garage and retail. Even the condo residents have recognized that a revitalized beach area with people, is better than a blighted beach without people.

Pompano Beach Pier Parking Garage

Note: This article has been updated from its original version for accuracy.

Pompano Beach Old Town Plaza

Agency

Pompano Beach Community Redevelopment Agency

Services Provided

Government Management
Urban Design & Planning

Address

100 West Atlantic Blvd.
4th Floor
Pompano Beach, FL 33060

Performance Period

2015-2016

Pompano Beach Old Town Plaza

Issue

In 2009 the City of Pompano Beach hired RMA to manage their two fledgling Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA) districts. The city had no identifiable downtown core and no investment was being made by property owners creating a deteriorated enclave of buildings.

Strategy

The Northwest CRA district is comprised of approximately 3,000 acres, so RMA honed in on a target area to form the downtown. After many community meetings, a Downtown area consisting of a defined Old Town historic district on the east, a commerce and residential area on the west, and a civic and cultural campus to the south was formed.

The vision plan included specific recommendations for the placement of the future passenger rail station, development opportunities and streetscape improvements.

As Executive Director of the CRA, RMA has supervised the project management of the Old Town Plaza during design process and will continue all the way through construction.

Outcome

Old Town underwent a major transformation through a streetscape improvement project and renovation of the existing historic commercial buildings through the CRA’s incentive programs. These investments attracted over $400,000 in private investment to the Downtown. The streetscape project has enhanced the pedestrian experience in Old Town and will be further enriched by the completion of the Old Town Plaza. This urban plaza will include mature oaks, an area for special events and outdoor seating, as well as a water and fire featured fountain.

Miami Beach Economic Development Transition

Agency

City of Miami Beach

Services Provided

Economic Development
Government Management

Address

1700 Convention Center Drive
Miami Beach, FL 33139

Performance Period

2010-2013

Miami Beach Economic Development Transition

Issue

In 2012, Kevin Crowder developed the BusinessFlare™ approach to economic development, which helps small communities maximize their economic development potential, by providing an affordable economic development outsourcing and technical assistance solution that respects a community’s limited resources. Following the development of BusinessFlare™, Mr. Crowder informed the city leadership of his intention to leave city employment and launch BusinessFlare™. Since this new model is based on the strategies and tools validated by his almost 20 years of experience in Miami Beach, in November 2012 the Miami Beach City Commission approved a Professional Services Agreement with Mr. Crowder to continue providing the City of Miami Beach with economic development services, through the BusinessFlare™ model, until the city completed the transition of economic development to new staff.

Strategy

Since Mr. Crowder’s departure coincided with the departure of the City’s Redevelopment Coordinator, as well as the Special Projects Coordinator that was going to assume the economic development role, Mr. Crowder assisted in implementing the BusinessFlare™ approach in order to ensure a smooth transition. Mr. Crowder was contracted for the period of January through May 2013 so that the city would not have a gap in service, and continues to provide consultation on an as-needed basis.

Outcome

The agreement approved by the City Commission validated the BusinessFlare™ concept, and provided assistance to the City Manager’s Office in the following areas for training/transitioning staff:

  • Assistance in responding to inquiries from entrepreneurs, new businesses, investors, developers, and real estate brokers with information about doing business and investing in Miami Beach;
  • Assistance updating the Economic Development Guide;
  • Economic development consulting services and policy guidance as directed by the City;
  • Assistance updating the Community and Demographic Profile;
  • Assistance updating the Current Economic Conditions report;
  • Assistance updating and providing information for the Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR), Bond Rating Agency Presentations, the Environmental Scan (which guides the city’s strategic plan), and other research tasks;
  • Coordination of intergovernmental issues, including assistance to the city administration with transition of intergovernmental coordination duties.

Pompano Beach Master Plan, Land Use Amendment & Zoning Regulations

Agency

Pompano Beach Community Redevelopment Agency

Services Provided

Urban Design & Planning
Government Management

Address

100 West Atlantic Blvd.
4th Floor
Pompano Beach, FL 33060

Performance Period

2010-2013

Pompano Beach Master Plan, Land Use Amendment and Zoning Regulations

Issue

On behalf of the City of Pompano Beach, RMA initiated a land use and zoning amendment for a 269 acre area generally known as the Downtown area of Pompano Beach. The area encompasses a 30 acre, vacant assemblage designated as a future Commerce Park, the historic Old Town District, and the Civic Commons where the future Cultural Center and Library will be located. None of the regulatory structure was in place to promote and encourage the type of development envisioned so a major effort was needed to amend the codes.

Strategy

The project entailed over 20 public meetings, including a design charrette with residents, in order to engage community input and support. RMA wrote the zoning regulations for the transit oriented corridor (TOC) and assisted the planning staff through its adoption. The general concept of the TOC calls for higher density mixed-use located in and around the two transit stations; one is the new bus terminal and the other is the future rail stop on Dixie Highway. The historic single family neighborhoods on the edges are preserved by maintaining their current designation. Specific zoning regulations were drafted to ensure the appropriate transition of height, setbacks and uses were maintained adjacent to the single family neighborhoods.

Outcome

In 2012, RMA’s Urban Design Director, Natasha Alfonso, received the Florida Redevelopment Association’s (FRA) Roy F. Kenzie award for the planning and design of the Transit Oriented Corridor. In 2014, a second FRA Roy F. Kenzie award was received for the zoning regulations of the Transit Oriented Corridor. In addition, Ms. Alfonso spoke on this subject at the national APA conference in 2015.

Fort Lauderdale CRA Management

Agency

Fort Lauderdale Community Redevelopment Agency

Services Provided

Government Management
Economic Development
Business Attraction & Marketing
Urban Design & Planning
Real Estate

Address

101 NE 3rd Ave.
Ft. Lauderdale, FL 33301

Performance Period

1999-2004

City of Fort Lauderdale CRA Management

Overview

The Northwest/Progresso CRA was established in 1995. By 1999 the CRA Board had grown frustrated that very little activity had occurred in the CRA district. Ms. Briesemeister was hired as executive director in 1999 to reorganize and re-establish priorities for the CRA. Key initiatives included:

A Strategic Finance Plan as a result of extensive community and stakeholder outreach. A consensus was reached on a redevelopment approach and within seven months Ms. Briesemeister presented a five year $45 million Strategic Finance Plan to the CRA Board. This strategic finance plan included a $20 million bond, which became the guide for redevelopment activity for the next decade.

To implement the Strategic Finance Plan, Ms. Briesemeister hired a full-time staff with the appropriate skill sets, which had immediate results.

Public-private partnerships were an integral part of the plans and within one year of issuing the bond, three major redevelopment projects were underway that resulted in over $100 million in private sector investment. These large public-private development deals have leveraged another $200 million in redevelopment activity in an area that hadn’t had any development in over 30 years. Setting the stage for ongoing redevelopment to continue even after the public-private development projects are completed is one of RMA’s most effective attributes. Property values escalated over $300 million and new employment opportunities were created from the new business and development activity.

The CRA partnered in all of these projects using one or all of the following CRA tools: Tax increment financing, infrastructure, streetscape support and fast track permitting.

Midtown Commerce Center

One of the most difficult redevelopment obstacles was attracting and financing business growth along the Sistrunk Corridor. These business owners tend to lack capital and banks are hesitant to fund the projects. The CRA partnered with right development LLC, for this mixed-use development and immediately following the approval, state representative Chris Smith acquired a parcel and sought the CRA’s assistance in redevelopment of a plaza along Sistrunk Boulevard.

Infill Housing

The Northwest District was targeted for both commercial and residential redevelopment resulting in over 40 new homes and four new commercial developments on Sistrunk Boulevard. Ms. Briesemeister managed a key redevelopment program that included 16 CRA and City owned lots conveyed to local developers for single-family infill development. Model Home Row, located in the Dorsey Riverbend neighborhood was a partnership between the CRA and the City of Fort Lauderdale Office of Housing and Community Development.

Avenue Lofts Public-Private Partnership

Agency

Fort Lauderdale Community Redevelopment Agency

Services Provided

Economic Development
Government Management
Public-Private Partnership
Real Estate

Address

101 NE 3rd Ave.
Ft. Lauderdale, FL 33301

Performance Period

2000-2004

Avenue Lofts Public-Private Partnership

Issue

The Northwest/Progresso CRA was established in 1995. By 1999 the CRA Board had grown frustrated that very little activity had occurred in the CRA district. Ms. Briesemeister was hired as executive director in 1999 to reorganize and re-establish priorities for the CRA. The CRA issued a $20 Million bond and approved a Strategic Finance Plan that focused on public-private partnerships. The Flagler Village area suffered from issues of crime and blight and was in an area that hadn’t seen any new redevelopment in 30 years. The area had long been overlooked by the private sector due to the high risk of development in the area. Although the area was within a CRA, incentives were needed to spur redevelopment.

Strategy

Specific CRA programming was put in place to support developers through public-private partnerships, which resulted in attracting Hooper Construction to build the Avenue Lofts project.

Outcome

The project generated approximately $200,000 new annual tax increment and created comparable sales figures for future development to occur. The project then spurred the next project that generated $325,000 in new tax increments.

Delray Beach CRA Management

Agency

Delray Beach Community Redevelopment Agency

Services Provided

Government Management
Business Attraction & Marketing
Economic Development
Real Estate
Urban Design & Planning

Address

100 NW 1st Avenue
Delray Beach, FL 33444

Performance Period

Chris Brown (1991-2000) Diane Colonna (2000-2015)

City of Delray Beach CRA Management

Overview

Chris Brown managed the highly successful Delray Beach CRA from 1991-2000 and set the basis for enormous success in both retail redevelopment and urban housing. Upon his arrival, Mr. Brown identified specific redevelopment strategies for the CRA district and then drew upon the skill sets of a financial analyst, comptroller, housing and land acquisition coordinator, economic development coordinator and a West Atlantic community coordinator to implement the programming for the Agency.

Mr. Brown, as Executive Director of the CRA, wrote four updates to the CRA Redevelopment Plan. The first plan amendment, adopted in 1993, was critical because the initial Plan of 1985 was wholly inadequate. Subsequent plans included new programs resulting in highly active and aggressive CRA redevelopment activities.

Ensuring that the appropriate and most effective plans and programs were in place were key aspects of the Agency that led to the revitalization of the district. The programs focused on workforce and urban infill housing, parking, downtown marketing, land acquisition, mixed-use development, business loan program, façade grants, street beautification, community policing and cultural facilities. Largely due to his efforts, the TIF grew from $300,000 in 1991 to over $3 million in 2000.

Ms. Colonna assumed the reigns in 2000 and continued to build on the momentum. Major strides were made during her tenure during which the largest increase in property values was realized. Delray Beach has become a model for redevelopment in the state and nationwide due to their effective management skillsets.

Pompano Beach Grand Re-Opening Event

Agency

Pompano Beach Community Redevelopment Agency

Services Provided

Business Attraction & Marketing
Government Management
Grand Opening Events

Address

100 West Atlantic Blvd.
4th Floor
Pompano Beach, FL 33060

Performance Period

2011-2013

Pompano Beach Grand Re-Opening Event, Public Relations & Communications Campaign, Brand Strategy | Harbor Village Shoppes and Public Beach Renovation

Issue

The City of Pompano Beach had not invested in its own public realm (streets, roads or beach area) in decades. Ultimately, the CRA issued a bond and, over an 18-month period, initiated a major $12 million beach and dune renovation on the barrier island and extensive streetscape improvements along Atlantic Boulevard, a major east/west highway connecting I-95 to the beach. At the same time, Harbor Village, a blighted strip center with tired retail and restaurant bays fronting the street, was undergoing a multi-store façade renovation with over $2 million in improvements. Atlantic Boulevard and the related businesses were the entryway to the beach area, and the incredible improvements had a serious impact on upgrading the City’s image. However, the residents and business owners had grown weary of rerouted and slow traffic patterns and tried to avoid the area at all costs. Everyone seemed to be talking about the improvements on Atlantic Boulevard and to the new beach area, but many had only seen it in pictures or read about all the new features through the media. A huge celebration was needed to introduce the community back to the newly redeveloped Harbor Village Shoppes and the stunning new oceanfront and beach promenade. The RMA marketing team developed and executed a comprehensive event plan that would showcase the CRA’s investment, as well as the additional $2 million of private sector investment.

Strategy

The strategy included two ribbon cutting ceremonies, one in the newly branded “East Village” area, and one at the beautifully renovated beach. A robust promotional campaign to showcase the completion of the redevelopment projects was needed to reposition the City and its new public assets, and promote the extensive high-quality improvements. The site plan for the event was specifically designed so that event attendees would walk the entire length of the project enjoying live music and community art projects. Of importance was accentuating the key public improvements including an amazing interactive water feature, a beautifully landscaped green space – the “Great Lawn”, outdoor workout facilities, and the new 17’ wide oceanfront/beach promenade. RMA positioned the opening as a family friendly celebration and promoted the event and the redevelopment through multiple media channels (print, television, radio, social media, etc.) as part of an integrated, holistic communications plan.

Outcome

  • With over 10,000 event attendees, Pompano Beach instantly became recognized as a place to be for quality beach and outdoor activities.
  • Many vendors reported that the event generated one of their best revenue occasions of the year.
  • All local businesses reported a significant increase in sales/ revenue since the event and campaign.
  • Art Hall on the Beach, an event within the event, featured 14 artists who participated in CRA events in another part of the City, creating connectivity between the East and Northwest CRA areas.
  • The event attracted Pompano Beach residents, as well as regional residents and tourists, to the newly redeveloped areas. The monetary investment from the CRA/City to Pompano Beach businesses decreased the leakage of entertainment dollars leaving the City.
  • CRA and City events held after the grand re-opening celebration and campaign have seen an increase in attendance.

Pompano Beach Streetscape Design & Construction Management

Agency

Pompano Beach City Redevelopment Agency

Services Provided

Urban Design & Planning
Construction Management
Government Management

Address

100 West Atlantic Blvd.
4th Floor
Pompano Beach, FL 33060

Performance Period

2013 – Present

Pompano Beach Streetscape Design & Construction Management

Issue

The City of Pompano Beach had not invested in its beach and downtown infrastructure in decades and the city had a tired and outdated image. Private investors passed the city by when looking for redevelopment sites and even during the last real estate boom, only one new major development materialized. The Northwest CRA area is approximately 3000 acres, and other than some property assemblage and a few infill housing projects, no commercial development had occurred. There was no defined town center and the county library was on hold. The beach area was valuable real estate, however, there was no on street parking for visitors to the beach and the area was blighted. In 2009 the City hired RMA to devise a strategy to attract investment and turn the city around.

Strategy

After a plan was created to identify key investment areas, the Downtown core was defined and was to be comprised of three main areas including the Old Pompano historic retail district on the east, a commerce and residential area on the west, and a civic and cultural center to the south. Through the center of the Downtown runs the FEC Railway which will provide future passenger rail service and a stop in the Downtown. Additionally, the Broward County Transit facility is currently situated in the Downtown. The most glaring issue was the dated public realm and lack of pedestrian amenities. RMA provided a plan to heavily invest in the public domain and leverage the investment to attract private investors. RMA worked with the community in the Downtown to understand their concerns and developed a vision plan that included specific recommendations for the placement of the future passenger rail station, development opportunities and streetscape improvements. RMA amended the Land Use Plan to create the Downtown Transit Oriented Corridor and created a form-based code to support the vision plan, which was adopted in January of 2013. The beach went through the same process but included major investment to the dune system, the sidewalks and the overall parking envelope. RMA oversaw the entire project programming and managed the consulting and construction teams.

Outcome

Over $12 million was invested along Atlantic Boulevard and Pompano Beach Boulevard and another $13 million in Old Town and along MLK. During the public improvement process, rebranding the area was essential and resulted in major developer interest in the city. A $50 million project is under construction at the beach and the first residential development along Atlantic Boulevard broke ground due to the City’s newly formed commitment to its public realm.

West Palm Beach Visioning & Downtown Master Plan

Agency

West Palm Beach Community Redevelopment Agency

Services Provided

Urban Design & Planning
Economic Development
Government Management
Master Plan
Visioning

Address

401 Clematis Street
West Palm Beach, FL 33401

Performance Period

2013 – Present

West Palm Beach Visioning & Downtown Master Plan

Issue

The CRA of West Palm Beach retained RMA to develop a master plan for the North End of West Palm Beach, which encompasses the Northwood/Pleasant City CRA and three mixed-use districts (Currie Park, Northwood Village and the Broadway Corridor) and the Pleasant City neighborhood. In addition to the master plan, the CRA retained RMA to amend the Comprehensive Master Plan and zoning regulations for the three mixed-use districts based on the new vision plan. RMA organized and conducted a 7-day design workshop within the community that engaged a great number of residents, business owners and stakeholders within the North End. The goal of the design workshop was to create a vision and an implementation strategy for the redevelopment of the North End, which has faced years of stagnation due to economic downturns and shortfalls in the current zoning regulations.

Strategy

The Currie Park area is situated on the east side of the CRA along the Intracoastal Waterway. This area has the largest number of vacant properties within the North End and the greatest interest for redevelopment due to its location. The master plan for this area focused on creating a physical and visual connection to Currie Park and the waterway. The Northwood area is the North End’s entertainment district with an eclectic mix of restaurants, galleries and shops. This area’s success is due to the rebranding and marketing strategies implemented by RMA. The district, however, still has room for growth. The master plan proposes a transit oriented district anchored on the west end by a future passenger rail station along the FEC. The Broadway Corridor is characterized today by crime and blight. The master plan recommended various development scenarios and specific streetscape improvements to the roadway to support the proposed development. The Pleasant City Neighborhood is the oldest African American neighborhood within the City. The master plan identified specific streetscape improvements, new green-ways and open spaces as well as infill opportunities for single family.

RMA has completed, through adoption, the Comprehensive Plan and zoning amendments for the Currie Mixed-Use District and is currently working on the text changes for the Northwood and Broadway Mixed-Use Districts Comprehensive Plan and zoning regulations based on the new vision plan.

Outcome

The completion of the vision for Currie along with the subsequent zoning changes, garnered interest from developers immediately. The entire 20 acres was purchased by one developer, who subsequently created a master plan nearly mirroring the RMA plan. The developer plans to begin development with a 47,000SF urban grocer within the district along with a 15-story residential property and improvements to Currie Park, which could include a marina and two restaurants. It is estimated that this first phase could bring over $1 million per year in additional tax increment to the Northwood/Pleasant City CRA.