Things We Liked In June

Delray’s Coco Gauff makes her Wimbledon debut today.

Things We Liked n June

 

After reading a stellar review, we checked out the Driftwood restaurant on U.S. 1 in Boynton Beach.

It’s fabulous.

 

Located in the former location of Sculley’s, the Driftwood offers craft cocktails and farm fresh food inventively prepared from local farms.

We recommend the Yuca tots, the calamari (the presentation is very different), the deviled eggs and the pita and hummus.

Great happy hour from 3-6 daily.

We skipped the lion fish, but they offer it.

 

 

We went back to La Vie, a Middle Eastern restaurant in Pompano. It did not disappoint. Great food. Entertainment and a really cool atmosphere. Highly recommend.

 

We enjoyed Maya Flavors of India in Boca and Oli’s Fashion Cuisine in Wellington. Recommend both.

 

Johnny Mango’s on North Federal Highway is a local treasure. Just a fun place to stroll through and admire the orchids, plants and eclectic decorations. These are the type of unique local businesses you hope to see last and flourish.

 

A special thank you shout out to Elise and Charles Johnson for hosting a tropical cocktail party at their beautiful home.

The goal was to bring Old School Square board members and donors together for a fun evening of bonding. Mission accomplished. The Johnson’s are a special couple who quietly do a lot for Delray.

 

Congratulations to Two Fat Cookies on their new location right next to Salt 7 in the SoFA district. The new store is larger than their previous location in Pineapple Grove. We wish them well.

 

It’s also good to see the new Aloft Hotel at 202 Southeast Fifth Avenue nearing their grand opening. The hotel held a job fair in June. We look forward to seeing the new hotel and WXYZ lounge.

 

Impact 100 For Men awarded $50,000 to the Florence Fuller Child Development Center and $4,500 each to the Milagro Center and First Serve West Palm Beach at their annual meeting in June.

I’ve been a member of this terrific group since its inception two years ago. We need more members so we can give away more money to important non-profits serving our community.

Please consider joining. Visit https://unitedwaypbc.org/impact100-men/ for more information.

 

The Dish on Dishes

 

The chicken lemon picatta at Grand Luxe is awfully good.

 

It’s hard to beat the chips and salsa at Senor Burrito.

 

The Chicken and dumplings at the aforementioned Driftwood—very good.

The pasta dishes at La Villetta are outstanding.

 

Summer Movies

 

Don’t miss Rocket Man on the big screen. Elton John music, great acting and unique storytelling.

Yesterday is a feel good movie and features a slew of Beatles songs. We loved it.

Lean on Pete is streaming on Amazon. It’s a sad, but exceedingly well done movie featuring a boy and his horse.

 

Chocolate Everywhere

We finally made it to The Chocolate Factory in Delray.

Beautiful facility, friendly staff and delicious chocolate all made right here in Delray. Add it to your list of places to scope out.

 

 

Congratulations to Delray’s Gary Woodland who shot 13 under to win the U.S. Open golf tournament.

 

Yes, he lives here. In a Marc Julien home. Pretty cool.

 

 

 

 

On a sad note, Delray lost a great friend in June with the passing of Charlie Gwynn.

The long time business and civic leader was born in Delray in 1931.

He was a business owner, coach, volunteer and just a wonderful gentleman.

He was also a regular at the old Green Owl where he met daily with several other long time leaders to eat breakfast, sip coffee and hold court on all things.

That’s how I will remember Charlie. Meeting with his friends and greeting everyone with a warm smile.

 

On another sad note, Delray lost a wonderful benefactor with the loss of Sara Jo Kobacher this month. I had the pleasure of spending time with Sara Jo and her late husband Art as they worked toward their dream of establishing The Village Academy in Delray.

Opened in 2000, The Village Academy School on the Art & Sara Jo Kobacker Campus serves students from low income homes from birth (Head Start) through 12th Grade. Following Sara Jo’s wishes, the United Way of PBC will be the beneficiary of donations in her honor. Condolences may be sent to the family at http://www.schoedinger.com.

 

Recognition

Congratulations to the fabulous Crane’s Beach House on earning a place in the TripAdvisors’ Hall of Fame.

Crane’s received TripAdvisor’s Certificate of Excellence for the fifth year in a row.

In order to be eligible for the Certificate of Excellence, properties must maintain an overall rating of 4 out of 5 on TripAdvisor.

Only 10 percent of properties worldwide are in the Hall of Fame so this is a special and deserved honor indeed.

GM Cathy Balestiere and her team have been great assets to Delray for a very long time. So cool to see the property recognized.

 

It’s also heartwarming to see another deserving local business win national recognition.

 

Boca’s Farmer’s Table was named one of the “100 Best Al Fresco Restaurants” in America in 2019 by Open Table.

 

Farmer’s Table—which is wonderful—was selected from the reviews of more than 30,000 restaurants submitted by Open Table diners.

 

Congrats to Delray’s Joseph Gianuzzi on this well deserved honor.

 

Congratulations also goes to the Sandoway House.

 

Sandoway Discovery Center received a two-year grant totaling $90,000 from The Jim Moran Foundation. The funds will be used to support Sandoway’s Education and Animal Care Program which allows students and visitors to learn environmental education through hands-on activities and live-animal encounters. The Jim Moran Foundation grant will also allow for the purchase of a new environmental education book to be sent home with every student participating in Sandoway’s Junior Naturalist Program from a Title I school.

 

 

This from CNN and it’s not fake news.

 

(CNN) – “American tennis prodigy Cori “Coco” Gauff just became the youngest player in the Open Era to advance through qualifying to reach Wimbledon’s main draw.”

The 15 year old Delray native has often been compared to Serena Williams. It’s not an unfair comparison. Stay tuned. She’s special.

Coco plays Venus Williams today at Wimbledon. She grew up idolizing the Williams sisters, who also trained in Delray.

No less a legend than Roger Federer calls the match-up “fascinating.”

Have a wonderful July and a safe Independence Day!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s All Connected

Recipe for conflict. Every. Single. Time.

Recipe for conflict. Every. Single. Time.

Consider the following…

-When the CRA was founded in 1985, the total property value of the district was $245 million, today it is more than $1.6 billion and growing.

-In recent years, the CRA has received more than $6 million from the county annually in tax increment funding contributions; over the last three decades the total from the county is over $60 million. That’s funding that almost surely would have been spent outside the city if it didn’t go to our CRA.

–Over the years, our CRA has reinvested over $100 million in local TIF revenues in our city. The money has been spent on infrastructure, capital improvements, parking facilities, affordable housing, beautification efforts, economic development initiatives, land acquisition (turning unproductive property into uses that often produce jobs) and arts and culture that drive more jobs, tax revenues and quality of life. Signature projects include: the beautification of Northwest and Southwest 5th Avenue, Atlantic Grove, the Fairfield Inn, The Hyatt, Old School Square, the Delray Beach Public Library, Spady Museum, South County Courthouse (land acquisition), Worthing Place, the Downtown Master Plan, improvements to U.S. 1 and the new Uptown Delray project which includes plans for a long sought neighborhood grocery.

–From the Green Market and Municipal Tennis Stadium to historic preservation efforts and the Community Land Trust, the CRA has been an integral part of Delray’s fabric.

The list of achievements, public private partnerships, site development assistance, façade improvements and business grants goes on and on.

In other words, it takes a village to build a village.

And this village would not be nearly the same without its CRA. It has been far and away our best economic development tool and has only gotten more effective along the way.

CRA monies have always complemented the city’s budget, including paying for police officers to make our city’s downtown clean and safe and funding for planning and engineering initiatives that built a pretty cool city.

For most of the past 20 years, the CRA has been focused on the West Atlantic corridor and neighborhoods north and south of the avenue and east of 95.

More than $60 million has been spent on sidewalks, water pressure improvements, beautification, housing, lighting, parks, plazas and economic development initiatives.

This wasn’t a heroic contribution; it was the right thing to do. But it should be acknowledged as well.

Public spending should be directed where the needs are but this was not always the case in Delray Beach.

As late as the 1980s, large parts of the central business district suffered from blighted conditions and disinvestment. Pineapple Grove was an idea, but it was pretty decrepit when it was hatched. And that’s a compliment.

When I was elected to the City Commission in 2000, there were still a few unpaved streets in our southwest neighborhoods. Many blocks did not have good water pressure, sidewalks or lighting.

But there was a whole lot of vision and a lot of dedicated people working together on what became known as the Southwest Plan. When the citizen driven plan was completed and adopted by the city, spending by the city and the CRA was earmarked to bring the plan to life. And while much was done—see the above millions invested—it was clear that even more needed to be done to improve neighborhoods and to break the cycle of poverty that gripped many families in our city.

Beacon Programs—providing wrap around social, educational and health services—were created, a Boys and Girls Club opened with the invaluable help of Mayor Tom Lynch and former CRA member Marc DeBaptiste, the Village Academy opened and was expanded to cover pre-K through 12th grade and a Community Land Trust was established to add much needed housing in  underserved neighborhoods.

It’s a remarkable story of a community, a city and a CRA working together.

In community building, one of the first lessons you learn is that you are never “done.”

There is always more to do: more progress to be made, more challenges to overcome and more opportunities to seize.

That seems to be a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised as you make progress how many people want cities to declare victory and stop investing. That’s a mistake, complacency is a killer.

Usually, the argument is that spending needs to be directed elsewhere—and many times it does. But community building is not a zero-sum game.

You can and should invest in multiple neighborhoods. It’s not a choice between East Atlantic and West Atlantic or between the downtown and Congress Avenue as some elected officials wrongly claim. Sure, you need priorities, but that doesn’t mean that you neglect one part of your town in favor of another—especially when your city is interconnected and certain neighborhoods provide the fuel and the funding to ensure that needier neighborhoods can receive what they need.

A friend has pointed out to me that it is impossible to improve blighted residential neighborhoods without the cash generated by successful commercial development.

Residential neighborhoods—especially ones that have problems—do not generate the tax dollars to do the job. But successful downtowns do. And because East Atlantic has performed so well, TIF dollars generated as a result can be and have been (for a long time now) used to fund improvements to West Atlantic and adjoining neighborhoods.

The key to doing more is to keep your pump healthy—to maintain your focus on all parts of your downtown and to create new economic drivers such as Congress Avenue, US 1 and the four corners of Atlantic Avenue and Military Trail.

The other key is to support, collaborate with and sharpen your economic development agencies.

Schools, quality health care, a strong business community, the arts, recreation and open space are also critical components—along with safe streets and a city government that provides services efficiently.

If that sounds like a lot, it is. Remember, you are never done and if you think you are, complacency or smugness will bite you.

 

 

 

Daring 2 Be Future Focused

The Class of '13 is distinguishing itself with students in med school and working at the White House among other adventures.

The Class of ’13 is distinguishing itself with students in med school and working at the White House and State Senate among other adventures including the music industry and international NGO’s.

Every year around this time, the board of Dare 2 Be Great has the privilege to sit down and meet some of the best kids you can imagine.

These are young men and women who live in Delray Beach and have achieved some amazing things in their short lives. But their community service and academic achievements pale in comparison to their dreams and goals for their futures. It is our mission to help them get there.

Dare 2 Be Great provides scholarships and mentoring services to between 6-12 special students a year. To date, we have touched the lives of over 40 remarkable young people.

It’s a modest effort measured against the needs and the number of local students who can use and are deserving of help.

But for those we work with, it’s an important assist–they do the work, we provide some of the funding and guidance.

We have never been a “needs based” organization, preferring instead to invest in students we feel can be game changers. But over the years, we have found ourselves choosing to work with young men and women with little to no means.

We have heard stories of violence, drug abuse, foreclosure, unemployment, illness and even murder. Yet these students are determined to overcome and achieve. They want better lives. And in many ways the challenges they face make them better people and more passionate about changing the trajectory of their lives.

Our investment of time and money is really an investment in Delray’s future. While we cannot and would not mandate that these exceptional young people return home, we do hope they will and we ask if that is something they desire.

Most do want to return after college and that’s a testament to Delray. Think about how many young people want to escape where they grow up. This year, we interviewed students who want to come back to teach, practice medicine and go into business.

It’s our responsibility as citizens to build a community of opportunity for these young people.

The interviewing process is always an emotional one. We laugh, we tear up and we never fail to be amazed by the stories we hear and the personalities we meet. I truly wish everyone in the community can see what we’re seeing because you’ll feel better about our nation’s future.

I will tell you more about these special people once we make this year’s selections—always a tough choice because we see a whole lot of human capital, but have finite resources. But this year’s candidates included a young man who has toured with a famous rock band, the first ever Village Academy student accepted to an Ivy League college and immigrants who have overcome physical, financial and emotional turbulence.

A common theme is loss—of a parent, a home, health, employment. But a stronger thread is desire, hope and aspiration.

Many of the young men and women talk about growing up in Delray—some mention a special teacher who inspired them, a parent who touched them, and a friend that helped them overcome. Others talk of dangerous neighborhoods, temptations they avoided and their passion to make a difference in this life, right here in this community.

Wouldn’t that be wonderful? Isn’t that what it is all about? Building a community in which our children can return to find opportunity and quality of life.

Like every year, we have a tough choice to make, because the truth is all of the applicants deserve our support. And it’s not just the financial piece—as important as that is—it’s the mentoring and the connection to their hometown. When a community embraces its young people—looks them in the eyes and tells them that we love and cherish them and want to see them succeed it’s a powerful statement.

I’ve spent many years engaged in all sorts of economic development activities on a statewide, regional, county, city and neighborhood level. I’ve been involved with efforts relating to incentives and other tools commonly deployed to land jobs and investment. But while some of those efforts are worthwhile—and a few aren’t to be frank—I have concluded that the best economic development strategy is to nurture, develop, attract, grow and retain young talent.

That’s the best investment we can possibly make, because it pays off in so many ways.

When a community’s young people know the adults care about their future it sends a powerful and profound message. Dare 2 Be Great is but one effort, there are others. But even more is needed and that’s the investment we should be making.

 

 

 

 

Shaping The Future

Don't

“Few things are less predictable or more dangerous than young men and women without hope, and there are thousands of these in so many of our cities.”– Governing Publisher Mark Funkhouser.

The images from Baltimore’s unrest are still very fresh in my mind.

The news cycle moves on-it always does—but crushing poverty persists. And so we will have another Baltimore. You can count on it.

I wonder if we will ever seriously make an effort to get at the root causes of hopelessness, drug abuse and crime in America. I wonder if we will ever have leadership capable of galvanizing our country again.

We seem so Balkanized and the polarization seems to be getting more acute, more sharp-edged.

The world is changing rapidly, some say exponentially and much faster than some of our institutions are capable of dealing with.

There seems to be two views of this kind of change.

The people at the forefront of technology are big believers that tech will save the world, by creating new industries and new opportunities. They see huge advances in health care, education, manufacturing and agriculture that will usher in a golden era of prosperity.

Then there are those who aren’t as bullish.

From the self-checkout aisle of the grocery store to the sports section of the newspaper, robots and computer software are increasingly taking the place of humans in the workforce. Silicon Valley executive Martin Ford says that robots, once thought of as a threat to only manufacturing jobs, are poised to replace humans as teachers, journalists, lawyers and others in the service sector.

 

“There’s already a hardware store [in California] that has a customer service robot that, for example, is capable of leading customers to the proper place on the shelves in order to find an item,” Ford tells Fresh Air’s Dave Davies.

In his new book, “Rise of the Robots”, Ford considers the social and economic disruption that is likely to result when educated workers can no longer find employment.

“As we look forward from this point, we need to keep in mind that this technology is going to continue to accelerate,” Ford told NPR. “So I think there’s every reason to believe it’s going to become the primary driver of inequality in the future, and things are likely to get even more extreme than they are now.”

While Ford paints a sobering picture, futurist Peter Diamandis of Singularity University, believes in a future filled with “abundance.”

“Abundance—the Future is Better Than You Think”—is a  book by Dr. Peter Diamandis (Chairman and CEO of the X PRIZE Foundation) and Steven Kotler (bestselling author and science journalist). The book serves as an antidote to today’s dark pessimism.

The authors rely on exhaustive research and extensive interviews with top scientists, innovators, and captains of industry to explore how four emerging forces—exponential technologies, the Do It Yourself innovator, the Technophilanthropist, and the Rising Billion (poor people becoming connected to the Internet and mobile technology) —are conspiring to solve our biggest problems.

The truth about what will happen is probably somewhere in the middle. We will benefit immensely—and have-from the advances we have seen in technology. But there will be winners and losers—as we are experiencing.

The key will be positioning our communities, states and nations to take advantage of exponential change and mitigate the downsides. We have to create a middle class again and we can’t ignore the poor.

While robots and computers are beginning to move from rote activities to those requiring dexterity, you have to believe that human capacity, empathy, emotional intelligence, creativity, love and nuance will still count for something in the future.

So yes, STEM education (science, technology and math) will be vital, but art will still be important too; maybe even more so in the age of robotics.

We are seeing trends in food—all natural, organic, locally grown. Products—craft beer (have you been to Saltwater Brewery, Copperpoint, Due South, Funky Buddha?), functional drinks (Boca-based Celsius, not Diet Coke, former Delray resident Jeff Rubinstein’s new beverage WTRMLN water), the rise of Etsy and the many entrepreneurs roaming Boca-Delray seeking and filling niches.

Years ago, when we did community visions and plans, we spent a lot of time talking about what we wanted to see happen. A lot of money was spent on infrastructure, parking garages, beautification, lighting, gateway features and things like improving water pressure, adding sidewalks and roads.

Today’s visioning needs to include capacity building and the importance of nurturing human capital.

I recently spent some time in a car driving through Delray’s southwest neighborhoods with my co-chair on the Downtown Master Plan: Chuck Ridley.

We saw a whole lot of things to work on: substandard housing and blight. But that wasn’t the purpose of the tour. We went to see the neighborhood’s assets: the Village Academy, Catherine Strong Park, Community Land Trust homes which looked great, the cleared site of Carver Square where the CRA removed sinking homes and more.

The job is far from done and the potential is visible for all those willing to see. But if you want to see unrest, violence and despair stop trying to build hope and let the future shape your community.

We see where the world is headed, the future can be abundant or it can be dystopian.

I’d like to think we have a say.