Fort Pierce cuts CRA committee out of decision to choose developer for H.D. King site

By Keona Gardner, News Source @TCPalm

The two remaining firms have submitted preliminary plans to transform the 7-acre site into a mixed-use development with a hotel, restaurant, shops and parking garage. The Framework Group would include apartments and townhomes.

“It’s not that we didn’t want to use the CRA,” Mimms said. “We did want them. It is just that the unauthorized discussion between the CRA and one member of the development did not follow city procedure.”

Fort Pierce guidelines specify how staff must interact with bidders for city projects without giving preferential treatment. The purpose of the CRA is to advise the Fort Pierce Redevelopment Agency, comprising the City Commission, on redevelopment of city-owned properties in the downtown area.

Mimms said he did not consult City Attorney Jim Messer because city policy is clear.

“We cannot have any group with an unfair advantage over another,” Mimms said.

Messer declined to comment on removal of the CRA from the process, referring questions to the city spokeswoman.

 “The city did not receive any complaints about the presentation. However, it is the city of Fort Pierce’s priority to ensure that all processes are carried out in a fair, objective and unbiased manner,” spokeswoman Shyanne Helms said in an email.

While the committee collectively won’t weigh in on the decision, Mimms said, each member of the committee will be allowed to provide individual input to the city staff.

The city has created a five-member evaluation committee — Helms, Planning Director Rebecca Grohall, Public Works Director Mike Reals, City Engineer Jack Andrews and county Tourism Director Charlotte Bireley — to rank the proposals and make a recommendation to the Fort Pierce Redevelopment Agency, which has final say.

The two remaining developers are to make their pitches to the evaluation committee at 10 a.m. April 11 in Commission Chambers in City Hall.

Mimms said he is adamant the exclusion of the CRA advisory committee would not delay the city’s aim of selecting a developer by summer.