By Strawberry Jam

After decades of tug-of-war over how to redevelop quaint Hollywood Beach and increase revenue, the city has decided to sign a 99-year lease to a Jimmy Buffet Margaritaville complex.  The project, which will cost an estimated $130 million, will supposedly be funded by foreign investors in exchange for a green card– what?!

It may be somewhat understandable that some sort of revamping is necessary for Hollywood Beach, especially if business owners feel so, but Margaritaville, really?  People drive from near and far to this beach for its old school feel and to enjoy a $1.50 soft-serve while checking out the Canadians. 349 hotel rooms, 35,000 feet of convention space, a wave pool, restaurants, an entertainment venue, a new parking garage, marina and beach cabanas just don’t seem to add up with that equation.  I don’t think I’m going overboard when I say that the majority of this beach’s visitors come for reasonably priced food and drink, relaxation, and, gasp!, the beach.

City officials and others have long argued that HWB needs to be more like Ft Lauderdale Beach or South Beach but wouldn’t it make sense that if that’s what consumers were after they would be exactly there- Ft Lauderdale or Miami?  Who decides this stuff?  I hereby solemnly swear to never step foot in Margaritaville.  Read these Miami Herald comments and you’ll find I’m not the only one who feels this way.  To reiterate my own thought… “If other hotels on the beach are called “eyesores” and The Hollywood Beach Hotel is a “sleepy white elephant”  what would you call a giant concrete building with parking garage and restaurants, a screaming rhinoceros?  If this is going to be a trend in development this is going to contribute to the downfall of this beach’s charm and drive the people that currently flock to it away.  What’s so great about a chain?  What’s so great about bigger and better? That mentality and the popular belief “go big or go home” are the reason why the country is the way it is now.  In a time when things get worse and worse and people are losing their jobs I think people genuinely enjoy places that still remind them of better days.”

At least we can breathe a sigh of relief that the Bandshell remains safe… for now.

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