Flashback to 2019 and you’ll remember that Delray was hustling and bustling with no signs of slowing down. However, the coronavirus pandemic had other plans, which forced all Delray businesses to take a step back and reexamine their output and strategies, including the Delray Beach CRA.
While there was opportunity for the CRA to relax and take advantage of the pandemic pause, the team did quite the opposite. Not only was this last year a busy year with lots of moving parts and improvements, but 2020 matched that same hustle and drive with even greater determination to improve the community in every way possible.
The CRA’s fiscal years is October 1 through September 30, and these past 365 days proved just how visionary, flexible and determined the CRA team is. No one knew how the pandemic was going to change the City and its community members, including the CRA, but the team did what it knows how to do best.
“The CRA was quick to pull together resources, and continue to update them on the Delray CRA website. The resources and information was divided into 16 different categories including health and wellness, education, small business development, and even child care services,” said Grace Gdaniec, Arts Warehouse manager. “We also shared specific information via social media, and encouraged our followers to visit the website for more details. The CRA continued to see main infrastructure, housing, and site assistance projects through. Though our offices were closed, the work didn’t stop.”
CRA Executive Director Renée Jadusingh agrees, adding that the CRA staff continued to work hard for the community and that the seamless transition to virtual working during the pandemic was a testament to their dedication.
In addition to being an invaluable resource for community members this year, the CRA completed a few key projects, including saving a historically-significant house from being demolished and using it as office space, starting the Corey Isle Project, helping Ceasar’s BBQ open their brick and mortar location, and awarding more than $490,000 to different local businesses as part of the Economic Development and Curb Appeal programs. These initiatives helped local business owners to open their storefronts, maintain their facades, and ultimately bring business into the city with a goal of creating a sustainable business community.
“I think that a lot was accomplished and monies spent on projects and programs that are the next step to a better and more sustainable community. It’s nice to look back on a year calendar and see what has been started, completed, and the steps it took to get there,” Gdaniec said. “There are many moving parts in the organization to see the projects come to fruition. Next year will bring more steps crossed off the list, and more opportunity for businesses and residents to benefit.”
This next fiscal year, you can expect to see movement on the plans for commercial projects 98 NW 5th Avenue and 95 SW 5th Avenue, including housing and the business community. “It’s a comprehensive approach to community development – providing people a place to live and work, and improving quality of life with less commuting,” said Jadusingh, believing these projects will help people enjoy where they live and actually have time to be part of the community.
So cheers to an amazingly productive 2019-2020 year, and three cheers to this next year that’s sure to be full of growth not only for the city, but also for all community members alike.