Security concerns don't stop Delray hotel

DELRAY BEACH, Fla. - Developers hoping to build a hotel in Delray Beach won a key approval from city commission on Thursday night despite concerns over security.

City commissioners raised red flags just a week after a deadly shooting across the street from where the hotel would be built on West Atlantic Avenue.

Douglas Rolle has lived in Delray Beach his whole life. He says the area near W. Atlantic Ave. and SW 8th Ave. often has problems.

Just last week there were two shootings at convenience stores within sight of the planned hotel.

Mayor Woodie McDuffie says the city needs a mid-priced hotel to lure conventions and middle class visitors.

Though most will be paid back, the city is putting up $1.8 million at the outset.

"If we get a constituency that gets a feeling that it's not safe out here, then the hotel will suffer, and not prosper and ultimately fail," said McDuffie.

The city's community redevelopment agency says the developer has promised to follow security guidelines submitted by the police department.

The memo cites a high number of calls for service to the neighborhood.

It calls for fences that block cars and foot traffic, for clear sight lines to eliminate ambush points, and for unoccupied rooms to have lights on and blinds open.

"If they can identify another hotel that does that in the United States, I'd be interested," said Commissioner Adam Frankel. "I've never heard of that."

Frankel is worried the hotel will become a magnet for bad behavior.

"Any 24-hour business right off of the interstate, that could be an easy getaway for someone who wanted to break into cars, " said Frankel.

But neighborhood leaders,  like Jocelyn Patrick,  are eager for the hotel, especially over the promise that 20 percent of jobs will be local.

"There is a lot of unemployment in my neighborhood," said Patrick, an organizer in the northwest neighborhood.

Despite recent bad memories, Patrick has deep faith the hotel will be safe.

"The recent shootings we have I feel like those suspects are not from this city," said Patrick. "The police department has done an excellent job of keeping this neighborhood safe."

Commissioner Frankel says the developer should pay for the cost to have an off-duty police officer stationed at the hotel 24-hours-a-day.

The developer said they have to be "cost effective."

Even though the developer sent someone to address the commission, no one was made available to speak .

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