Although she may be new to the Delray Beach CRA, Tara Toto is no stranger to redevelopment. With over fifteen years of professional land development and construction administration/management experience in the private sector, she was well prepared for the passion required for her new role as the CRA Redevelopment Manager. This passion continues to enable her to accomplish whatever is necessary to move each of her projects forward.
“Before coming to the CRA, I worked as a project manager for a national civil/architecture company for nearly six years. Although this was rewarding in many ways, I was looking for a change…something more personally meaningful to me,” said Toto, who began working for the CRA in June 2019 and is now the CRA Redevelopment Manager. She references one of her most favorable writers and poets, Maya Angelou, who stated, “My passion in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor, and some style.” Tara says, “The projects I am working on are very exciting and mean so much to the community, projects like affordable housing and new office/retail space offered at affordable rates. Being part of the CRA’s mission is very fulfilling in so many ways. I am really enjoying it.”
Her responsibilities include overseeing all aspects of the assigned projects within the CRA District. In relation to her projects, this includes, but is not limited to, conducting due diligence, coordinating and processing all entitlements, processing permits, presenting to various Boards, preparing schedules and budgets. In addition, there are also the day-to-day administrative duties that are required as well, which can include preparing for the monthly CRA Board meeting or assisting with an upcoming event. The Redevelopment Manager also acts as a liaison by working with various public, private and non-profit organizations. Basically, it is the position to ensure all phases of development within the District are planned and executed efficiently and effectively. In a nutshell, her day is “busy from beginning to end,” said Toto, but also immensely rewarding.
To accomplish her job, there can’t possibly be enough hours in the day, energy in her body, or caffeine in her coffee, however, she manages to get it all done, and with a smile on her face.
“It is refreshing to work on projects that are not only custom and unique, but also ones that have a personal meaning,” said Toto, who grew up in Broward County. “Creating sustainable communities is so important. The CRA does this and I’m excited to be part of it!”
She finds that a project manager is required to have the ability to work on a variety of projects at different stages of development simultaneously, whether it be residential, commercial or even historical preservation. Currently, she’s working on all three, which she enjoys because she thrives in a mentally-stimulating atmosphere where she is confronted with challenges. The project she’s working on now that she finds to be most exciting is the CRA historic preservation projects, known as the Historic Wellbrock House. Not only did she help to manage logistics and site preparation for moving the house, she is also currently working on the renovation phase that includes the request for a Local Historic Designation and site plan approval. The designation is now pending and scheduled for review by the Historic Preservation Board. Tara is looking forward to seeing this project move through the process and to completion so the CRA can occupy this space, and the community can enjoy the beautifully restored and protected structure in the Old School Square Historic District.
“I love this project for so many reasons. I have always loved historic structures and places. It is the stories that make them so special. Consequently, while conducting the research for the Historic Designation Report, I learned so much about the architect Sam Ogren, Sr. (the first registered architect in Delray Beach), the original owner, J.C. Wellbrock, and also the history of Delray Beach,” Toto said. “Preparing the report and learning about the history of the house was a lot of fun. I never thought I would have an opportunity to work on a unique project like this, and for me it is very personally rewarding.”
Toto is not only very passionate about being a part of the CRA’s mission, but is also passionate about all of the interesting projects she gets to work on to improve the future of Delray Beach. She believes the history and cultural diversity behind Delray is what makes it unique, and finds that the historic preservation efforts throughout the City create an interesting coastal seaside vibe combining both the past and the present in a functional and aesthetically appealing way. All in all, she feels that is what makes Delray Beach so special.
She’s committed to tirelessly working to both preserve the past as a way to better the future, and helping our current community members and businesses thrive in the present day and every day ahead. In her free time, Tara enjoys spending time with family and friends, traveling, the arts, writing, exploring the outdoors, dancing and yoga.