Girl power: How three women helped create CityPlace

Lynda J. Harris
Lynda J. Harris

There are city fathers, and then there are city mothers.

Lynda J. Harris was a city mother.

She was the attorney for the Related Cos., which built CityPlace and helped kick off the renaissance of West Palm Beach’s downtown.

Harris died Dec. 14, following an illness and complications from a botched 2013 spinal surgery.

Ken Himmel is president of Related Urban, the mixed-use unit of New York-based Related Cos.

Here are Himmel thoughts on Harris, in his own words:

I have been leading the development of CityPlace, with my partner Steve Ross (owner of the Miami Dolphins), since its inception and opening in October of 2000.

We began our work together in West Palm Beach in 1998 when we competed with top national developers and got selected to take on this game changing mixed-use development, aspiring to create a new “downtown ” for West Palm and Palm Beach County.

Our decision to enter the competition and enthusiastically compete changed to a ” go for it” mode the day three dynamic professional woman came to our New York headquarters office to pitch us to take a hard look at this small community city and lead a transformational development.

Those three professionals, Pat Pepper (former mayor of West Palm); Nancy Graham (then mayor of West Palm) and Lynda Harris, the leading land use attorney in West Palm Beach, all came to New York that day with a mission: To convince us to give this competition our best effort.

And that we did then, to win the competition. And we’ve been working that vision even to this day.

Behind all that visioning and leasing and marketing and construction was a combination of political leadership and drive from Nancy Graham — and the legal leadership and community understanding that comes with years of successful experience, the full complement of skills and savvy that came with every assignment and challenge that Lyn took on with such commitment and enthusiasm.

Lynda Harris was in a league of her own when it came to legal and community counsel.

The original master plan for the complete 72-acre downtown CityPlace that Lynda Harris and Nancy Graham began with Steve Ross and me 18 years ago continues today under the able guidance and support of our current mayor, Jerry Muoio, as she enthusiastically envisions the next generation of quality growth for West Palm Beach and its downtown.

There is no question in my mind that if Lyn Harris had successfully survived her surgery from three years ago, she would be directly in the middle of all this new exciting development that Mayor Muoio is now leading.

And Lyn would be, as always, the go-to legal and community resource to get things done and built.

Lyn Harris was far more than my lawyer in West Palm. She was a close family friend and provided genuine counsel and friendship to my wife and children, who looked on in awe of what she had sacrificed in her life to achieve her great professional goals.

We will all miss her, but what a wonderful legacy to leave behind, knowing she made the difference in creating a vibrant new community in this special place called West Palm Beach.

Go in peace, Lyn. Your contributions here are a permanent part of this city, never to be forgotten!

 

 

 

This mall is hosting a FREE storytime with Santa

The Boynton Beach Mall on Dec. 10 will host a free “Storytime with Santa” as part of its monthly KidX Club series.072514 Christmas in July 2

Children will be treated to a story by Santa and/or Mrs. Claus, holiday-themed arts and crafts and treats, the mall said.

The event begins at 3 p.m. and will be held in the mall’s play area for children.

For more information, click HERE.

 

Indian River County drops permit challenge for All Aboard’s Brightline project

Indian River County has dropped its challenge of a water management permit for All Aboard Florida’s Brightline train service connecting Miami to Orlando.

(Provided)
(Provided)

The Indian River County commission voted in January to look for ways to challenge Brightline’s permit request filed with the St. Johns River Water Management District, the governmental agency responsible for managing groundwater and surface water resources in all or part of 18 counties in northeast and east-central Florida.

A challenge was filed with the state’s Division of Administrative Hearings in September. But after reviewing the permit documents, Indian River County agreed to drop the challenge on Nov. 21, a filing in the case shows.

The move came just days before the U.S. Department of Transportation said it had withdrawn its 2014 approval granting Brightline permission to sell up to $1.75 billion in tax-exempt bonds to pay for the rail project, a move federal officials now argue makes a lawsuit filed by opponents of the train service moot.

A rendering of All Aboard's Florida's West Palm Beach station sits on the top floor of the building, overlooking downtown, after "topping off" ceremonies, signaling construction of the building has hit a new milestone and reached its top elevation, Friday, September 30, 2016. (Lannis Waters / The Palm Beach Post)
A rendering of All Aboard’s Florida’s West Palm Beach station sits on the top floor of the building, overlooking downtown, after “topping off” ceremonies, signaling construction of the building has hit a new milestone and reached its top elevation, Friday, September 30, 2016. (Lannis Waters / The Palm Beach Post)

In court documents filed Monday, the Transportation Department said it withdrew its original approval last month, and instead granted All Aboard’s Brightline provisional permission to move forward with a smaller bond sale.

The original sale would have paid for the second phase of Brightline’s project, connecting West Palm Beach to Orlando.

The new sale will be limited to the rail venture’s first phase between Miami and West Palm Beach.

Martin and Indian River counties filed suit last year over the original bond sale, arguing that federal officials violated the National Environmental Policy Act when they approved the tax-exempt bonds before an environmental study of the rail project’s second phase was complete.

The Transportation Department on Monday asked a federal judge to dismiss the case, saying the financing shift has resolved the dispute because the second phase of the project will no longer be included in the bond sale.

Brightline  President Michael Reininger pointed to improving economic conditions, adding that a smaller “targeted” sale would be easier to market.

“Since December 2015, we have been monitoring the status of the markets and evaluating potential options for an offering of (tax-exempt bonds),” Reininger wrote in a Sept. 30 letter to federal transportation officials.

“We are pleased to report that market conditions relative to bond financing began to improve earlier this year and have continued to improve, to the point that we now believe we can conclude an initial offering of (tax-exempt bonds) on favorable terms in the near future,” he wrote.

In the letter, Reininger said the company planned to consider a second, $1.15 billion bond sale to help pay for rail work between West Palm Beach and Orlando.

 

 

Giving Tuesday: One local nonprofit raises $1.6 million in one day

Giving Tuesday – a day dedicated to raising money for philanthropic causes – was a record-breaker for one Palm Beach County nonprofit.

Maus & Hoffman offers the option to wrap gifts in sheets of uncut $1 and $2 bills from the U.S. Bureau of Engraving and Printing.

Maus & Hoffman offers the option to wrap gifts in sheets of uncut $1 and $2 bills from the U.S. Bureau of Engraving and Printing.

The Jewish Federation of Palm Beach County raised $1.6 million during the global fundraising campaign, which was held on Nov. 29. The event broke the federation’s previous record for Giving Tuesday contributions, a representative for the group said.

Founded by a cultural center in New York, Giving Tuesday began in 2012 as a way to put a spotlight on philanthropy during the holiday shopping season. For the fifth year, it was held on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving — following the Black Friday and Cyber Monday shopping rush.

This year’s campaign generated more than 1.5 million contributions in 98 countries, totally roughly $168 million, according to givingtuesday.org.

HOT TOY ALERT: Toys”R”Us to get new shipment of Hatchimals, NES Nintendo Classic

The year’s two most sought after toys — Hatchimals and the NES Nintendo Classic — will be hitting shelves at Toys”R”Us stores on Sunday, the company said.

Remember Cabbage Patch Kids or Tickle Me Elmo? Brace yourself, parents, the latest toy craze has hatched. Hatchimals are large speckled eggs with furry, magical creatures inside that eventually crack out of the egg but only if given enough human attention. As you rub the egg it lights up and makes sounds. Eventually, the baby animal inside begins to peck away and break free. Kids can watch it develop its own personality as it matures from a baby to adulthood, where it can repeat words and play games. Hatchimals landed in stores on Oct. 7 and are already hard to find. A Toys R Us spokesperson said they're currently limited to one per customer. I called several stores, and they were all sold out. They were also out of stock online. Sellers on Amazon are asking $190 for a toy that's listed for $50 at Target, Toys R Us and Wal-Mart, and that's if you can actually find it on the shelves. (Learning Resources)
Remember Cabbage Patch Kids or Tickle Me Elmo? Brace yourself, parents, the latest toy craze has hatched. Hatchimals are large speckled eggs with furry, magical creatures inside that eventually crack out of the egg but only if given enough human attention. (Learning Resources)

Toys”R”Us said stores across the nation will be getting a new shipment this Sunday (Dec. 4) of both Hatchimals and the NES gaming system.

“All stores nationwide will have a new shipment of Hatchimals and the NES Nintendo Classic edition in stores this Sunday, December 4,” a company representative said in an email to The Palm Beach Post.

RELATED: Can’t find a Hatchimal? Check out these alternatives

The two toys are virtually impossible to find in stores, and resellers looking to cash in on their popularity have marked them up dramatically on sites like eBay.

It is unclear how many of each toy will be available as part of the shipment.

The announcement from Toys”R”Us is welcomed news for parents who don’t want to pay hundreds of dollars to score one of the items online. Most Toys”R”Us stores in Palm Beach County open at 8 a.m. on Sunday, according to the company’s website.

As of Thursday, Hatchimals, which retail for $59.99, were selling for as much as $200 on eBay.

Photo provided
Photo provided

The Nintendo system,  which includes 30 classic NES games such as Super Mario Bros., Metroid, Donkey Kong, The Legend of Zelda, Kirby’s Adventure and PAC-MAN,  was selling for $200 to $300 on eBay. The console retails for $59.99

Parents who aren’t lucky enough to get one of these items at Toys”R” Us shouldn’t give up their search, said Brent Shelton, a deal expert with FatWallet.com and the Black Friday website BfAds.net.

“A few things interested shoppers can do to stay on the insider news for these super hot toys that are sold out in stores and avoid the exorbitant re-seller prices is to follow inventory tracking sites like Zoolert and Stock Informer,” Shelton said.

Deal hunting forums on FatWallet.com and BfAds.net also allow shoppers to “keep their ear to the ground” for new shipments, he added.

“I advise to set topic alerts with any of these so you get quick notification on any news,” Shelton said. “They can also follow Facebook groups like the Hatchimals BST (Buy Sell Trade) or Nintendo Classic Mini NES, and Reddit is a great candidate if you have the time to scour their hundreds of subtopics.”

Shoppers can also expect to see Black Friday-like prices on Dec. 12, one of the largest online shopping days of the year. Parents may not be able to find Hatchimals or Nintendo systems, but there will likely be big discounts on other toy items, Shelton said.

 

The cost of Christmas cheer? $34K, according to PNC Bank

If you tried to buy all of the items in the carol “The Twelve Days of Christmas,the price tag would total more than $34,000, up slightly over last year, according to PNC Bank. 072514 Christmas in July 2

PNC on Thursday released its annual “Christmas Price Index,” which found that a set of gifts in each verse of the song would set you back $34,363.49 in stores, an increase of 0.7 percent from last year.

The increase was driven by “price increases for the Turtle Doves due to lack of availability, and wage increases for the Drummers and Pipers,” PNC said.

Buyers looking to purchase all the items each time they were mentioned in the song (a total of 364 gifts) would spend $156,507.88, according to PNC.

Holiday shopping: These are December’s best deals

The Black Friday shopping rush may be over, but the are still plenty of bargains to be had this winter.

A santa outside Parfum Europa tries to attract last minute shoppers on Christmas Eve at Palm Beach Outlets in West Palm Beach, December 24, 2015. (Greg Lovett / The Palm Beach Post)
A santa outside Parfum Europa tries to attract last minute shoppers on Christmas Eve at Palm Beach Outlets in West Palm Beach, December 24, 2015. (Greg Lovett / The Palm Beach Post)

The deal hunters at fatwallet.com have put together a list of December’s best bargains. If you are on the hunt for gift items this month, you may want to consider the website’s tips. Here they are:

Cookware and Kitchen Gadgets: Shoppers can expect better prices and exclusive savings post-Thanksgiving on select cookware, dinnerware, glassware and small kitchen appliances. Holding out for the monthly Kohl’s discount that stacks with Kohl’s Cash, or shopping during Macy’s exclusive Sunday sales will be your best bet, including savings on home decor items.

Toy Deals: Retailers were aggressive with toy deals in late November, but selection of special pricing was limited to the “gotta-have-it” toys. Overall toy prices will get better following Cyber Monday, but waiting too long may leave you empty handed, especially for 2016 video game deals that will be in demand as stocking stuffers that pair with those new video gaming console deals during Black Friday.

Gift Cards: Dozens of stores offer discounts in late December and right before Christmas break, especially for restaurants, movie theaters and local entertainment venues. Check eBay deals as a great resource to scout for discounts on gift cards from retailers and gas stations, and look for discounts on iTunes gift cards with expectations of $100 in iTunes credit for $80.

TVs and Accessories: TV prices were exceptional during the Thanksgiving weekend, many prices were even better on Cyber Monday, signaling TVs were undersold. Expect 4K TV Deals to continue in December, especially 50-65” as well as 1080p TVs 60” or larger. Electronics stores that carry HDMI and A/V cables, streaming devices and other TV accessories will offer better discounting, too.

Free Shipping Day and December Clearance: On Friday Dec. 16, Free Shipping Day will offer the best last minute savings opportunities, but beware any offer that looks too good to be true as some third party sites charge a fee to access their free shipping promises. After Christmas Clearance sales start up December 22 and acting quick is key as the best deals do not last more than a few hours.

Holiday shopping: When will Palm Beach County malls be open?

Looking for the perfect gift this holiday season?

Here is a roundup of seasonal hours for Palm Beach County’s five major shopping malls. 122513 christmas shopping 1

The Boynton Beach Mall

Nov. 30: 10 a.m.-9 p.m.

Dec. 1: 10 a.m.-9 p.m.

Dec. 2: 10 a.m.-10 p.m.

Dec. 3: 10 a.m.-10 p.m.

Dec. 4: 11 a.m.-7 p.m.

Dec. 5: 10 a.m.-9 p.m.

Dec. 6: 10 a.m.-9 p.m.

Dec. 7: 10 a.m.-9 p.m.

Dec. 8: 10 a.m.-9 p.m.

Dec. 9: 10 a.m.-10 p.m.

Dec. 10: 10 a.m.-10 p.m.

Dec 11: noon-6p.m.

Dec 12: 10 a.m.-9 p.m.122113 met shopping 02

Dec 13: 10 a.m.-9 p.m.

Dec. 14: 9 a.m. – 10 p.m.

Dec. 15: 9 a.m. – 10 p.m.

Dec. 16: 9 a.m. – 10 p.m.

Dec. 17: 8 a.m. – 10 p.m.

Dec. 18: 9 a.m. – 10 p.m.

Dec. 19: 8 a.m. – 10 p.m.

Dec. 20: 8 a.m. – 10 p.m.

Dec. 21: 8 a.m. – 10 p.m.

Dec. 22: 8 a.m. – 10 p.m.

Dec. 23: 8 a.m. – 10 p.m.

Christmas Eve: 8 a.m. – 6 p.m.

Christmas Day: Closed

Dec. 26: 8 a.m. – 10 p.m.

Dec. 27: 10 a.m. – 9 p.m.

Dec. 28: 10 a.m. – 9 p.m.

Dec. 29: 10 a.m. – 9 p.m.

Dec. 30: 10 a.m. – 9 p.m.

New Year’s Eve: 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.

The Gardens Mall

Dec. 1-Dec. 3: 10 a.m. – 9 p.m.

Dec. 4: 11 a.m. – 7 p.m.

Dec. 5-Dec. 10: 10 a.m. – 9 p.m.

Dec. 11: 11 a.m. – 8 p.m.

Dec. 12-Dec. 15: 10 a.m. – 9 p.m.

Dec. 16-Dec. 23: 9 a.m. – 10 p.m.

Christmas Eve: 8 a.m. – 6 p.m.

Christmas Day: Closed

Dec. 26: 8 a.m. – 9 p.m.

Dec. 27-Dec. 30: 10 a.m. – 9 p.m.holidayshoppingap

New Year’s Eve: 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.

New Year’s Day: noon – 6 p.m.

The Mall at Wellington Green

Dec. 1-Dec. 3: 10 a.m. – 9 p.m.

Dec. 4: 11 a.m. – 6 p.m.

Dec. 5 – Dec. 9: 10 a.m. – 9 p.m.

Dec. 10: 9 a.m. – 10 p.m.

Dec. 11: 10 a.m. – 8 p.m.

Dec. 12-Dec. 16: 9 a.m. – 10 p.m.

Dec. 17: 8 a.m. – 10 p.m.

Dec. 18: 10 a.m. – 9 p.m.

Dec. 19-Dec. 23: 8 a.m. – 10 p.m.

Christmas Eve: 8 a.m. – 6 p.m.

Christmas Day: Closed

Dec. 26: 8 a.m. – 9 p.m.

Dec. 27-30: 10 a.m. – 9 p.m.

New Year’s Eve: 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.

New Year’s Day: 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.

Palm Beach Outlets

Nov. 28-Dec. 3: 10 a.m. – 9 p.m.

Dec. 4: 11 a.m. – 7 p.m. (normal business hours)

Dec. 5-Dec. 10: 10 a.m. – 9 p.m. (normal business hours)

Dec. 11: 11 a.m. – 7 p.m. (normal business hours)

Dec. 12-Dec. 15: 10 a.m. – 9 p.m. (normal business hours)

Dec. 16: 10 a.m. – 10 p.m.

Dec. 17:  9 a.m. – 10 p.m.

Dec. 18: 10 a.m. – 8 p.m.

Dec. 19- Dec. 22: 9 a.m. – 10 p.m.

Dec. 23: 9 a.m. – 11 p.m.

Christmas Eve: 8 a.m. – 6 p.m.

Christmas Day: Closed

Dec. 26: 8 a.m. – 9 p.m.

Dec. 27-Dec. 30: 10 a.m. – 9 p.m. (normal business hours)

New Year’s Eve: 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.

New Year’s Day: 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.

Town Center at Boca Raton

Normal mall hours

Mondays to Saturdays: 10 a.m. – 9 p.m.

Sundays:  noon – 6 p.m.

Special holiday hours

Dec. 4: 11 a.m. – 7 p.m.

Dec. 10: 9 a.m. – 9 p.m.

Dec. 11: 11 a.m. – 9 p.m.

Dec. 12-Dec. 16: 10 a.m. – 10 p.m.

Dec. 17: 9 a.m. – 10 p.m.

Dec. 18: 9 a.m. – 9 p.m.

Dec. 19 – Dec. 23: 9 a.m. – 10 p.m.

Christmas Eve: 8 a.m. – 6 p.m.

Christmas Day: Closed

Dec. 26: 9 a.m. – 9 p.m.

New Year’s Eve: 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.

New Year’s Day: 11 a.m. – 6 p.m.

PGA Commons

Hours vary by tenant. See the holiday schedule below:

pga-commons

 

Mall Santas: Where to find the best (and cheapest) photos

Santa has landed at all of Palm Beach County’s major shopping malls.

To mark his arrival, we’ve complied a list of hours and prices for photo packages with the jolly old elf.

The Boynton Beach Mall

Santa will pose for photos through Christmas Eve. Santa leaves promptly at 6 p.m. on Christmas Eve.

Photo credit: The Boynton Beach Mall
Photo credit: The Boynton Beach Mall

Holiday hours vary by date. Click HERE for a complete list of Santa hours.

Prices on photo packages range from $24.99 to $49.99.

The cheapest package ($24.99) includes one of the following:

One 5 x 7; one 3.5 x 5; and 2 wallets

or

One 5 x 7 and four wallets

The most expensive (49.99) package includes for of the following

  • Four greeting cards
  • Two 5 x 7s
  • Two 3.5 x 5s and four wallets
  • One 5 x 7 and four wallets
  • One 5 x 7; one 3.5 x 5 and two wallets

The Gardens Mall

The mall unveiled Santa’s “Enchanted Garden photo set” this month. As part of the display, the mall’s grand court has been “dressed up in magical style with boughs of evergreen, decadent, treasure-filled trees, twinkling lights, snow-covered drifts, and festive adornments of red, green, gold and silver.”

Photos with Santa in the Enchanted Garden through Christmas Eve and are available during mall hours.

The mall has also brought back its annual “FastPass” for Santa photos, which allows families to skip the line by scheduling a time for their visit. The passes can be purchased on the mall’s website. For more information, click HERE.

Photo packages with Santa range from $27 to $48.

The cheapest photo package ($27) includes:

One 5 x 7
Two 4 x 6s
Two 3 x 5s

$10 card from Shutterfly

The most expensive package ($48) includes:

Four 5 x 7s
Four 4 x 6s
Four 3 x 5s
Eight wallets
Hi-Res Photos on Flash Drive
Digital Download

$20 card from Shutterfly

For information on other packages click HERE.

The Mall at Wellington Green

Abriana Camargo, (C), 3, of Greenacres, talks with Santa and Mrs. Claus at the Mall at Wellington Green Nov 06, 2014, in Wellington. Santa and Mrs. Claus will be at the mall until December 24th. (Bill Ingram / Palm Beach Post)
Abriana Camargo, (C), 3, of Greenacres, talks with Santa and Mrs. Claus at the Mall at Wellington Green Nov 06, 2014, in Wellington. Santa and Mrs. Claus will be at the mall until December 24th. (Bill Ingram / Palm Beach Post)

Santa will pose for photos next to the mall’s annual Ice Palace. Every child who visits Santa will receive a cookie plate gift and a special offer from Lion Country Safari to visit their park during the holidays.

The Ice Palace is open all mall hours with the exception of Christmas Eve, when the hours will be 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Santa takes short break to feed the reindeer from 12:15  p.m. to 1 p.m. and 6:15 p.m. to 7 p.m. Mondays-Saturdays and from 2 p.m. to 2:45 p.m. on Sundays.

The 2016 Ice Palace at The Mall at Wellington Green is described as a “magical, interactive experience for the entire family. Featuring baby arctic animals, guest can make an icy hand print, compare their height to a polar bear, and enjoy a 360 degree visual display complete with snow fall inside a 30’ Ice Palace. The experience culminates with a visit with Santa.”

Prices for photo packages range from $23 to $48.

The cheapest package ($23) includes:

Two 4 x 6 photos

$20 Shutterfly promo card

The most expensive package ($48) includes:

Four 5 x 7s

Four 4 x 6s

Four 3 x 5

Eight wallets

Free digital download

$20 Shutterfly promo card.

Click HERE for details on other packages.

Palm Beach Outlets

Palm Beach Outlets is giving away FREE photos with Santa.

Each family will receive two 4×6 Santa photo prints and a high-res digital download of single image. Additional photos and Christmas merchandise available for purchase. One giveaway per family, per Christmas season.

Photo hours

Now through December 23, 2016
11:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m. Monday – Thursday
11:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m. Friday – Saturday
12:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m. Sunday

Photo Hours on Christmas Eve
9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.

Town Center at Boca Raton

Photo credit: Town Center at Boca Raton
Photo credit: Town Center at Boca Raton

The Town Center at Boca Raton Santa Experience offers keepsake photo packages starting at $24.99. This holiday season, guests can also choose a Hasbro toy or a $20 Shutterfly promo card gift with select Santa photo packages.

The mall also allows shoppers to make an appointment for photos with Santa. To schedule a photo, click HERE.

Photo hours

Now through December 3

Mondays – Fridays: 11 a.m. – 8 p.m.

Saturdays: 10 a.m. – 8 p.m.

Sundays 12 p.m. – 6 p.m.

December 4 through December 11

Mondays – Thursdays: 10 a.m. – 8 p.m.

Fridays – Saturdays: 10 a.m. – 8:30 p.m.

Sundays: 11 a.m. – 8 p.m.

December 12 through December 18

Monday – Thursday: 10 a.m. – 8 p.m.

Friday: 10 a.m. – 9 p.m.

Saturday: 9 a.m. – 9 p.m.

Sunday: 9 a.m. – 8 p.m.

December 19 – December 23

Mondays – Fridays: 9 a.m. – 9 p.m.

Christmas Eve: 8 a.m. – 6 p.m.

 

 

All Aboard, federal officials move to end lawsuit over tax-exempt rail bonds

The U.S. Department of Transportation has withdrawn its 2014 approval granting All Aboard Florida’s Brightline permission to sell up to $1.75 billion in tax-exempt bonds to pay for the rail project, a move federal officials now argue makes a lawsuit filed by opponents of the train service moot.

(Provided)
(Provided)

In court documents filed Monday, the U.S. Department of Transportation said it withdrew its original approval this month, and instead granted All Aboard provisional permission to move forward with a smaller bond sale.

The original sale would have paid for the second phase of Brightline’s project, connecting West Palm Beach to Orlando. The new sale will be limited to the rail venture’s first phase between Miami and West Palm Beach.

Martin and Indian River counties filed suit last year over the original bond sale, arguing that federal officials violated the National Environmental Policy Act when they approved the tax-exempt bonds before an environmental study of the rail project’s second phase was complete.

The U.S. Department of Transportation on Monday asked a federal judge to dismiss the case, saying the financing shift has resolved the dispute since the second phase of the project will no longer be included in the bond sale.

A rendering of All Aboard's Florida's West Palm Beach station sits on the top floor of the building, overlooking downtown, after "topping off" ceremonies, signaling construction of the building has hit a new milestone and reached its top elevation, Friday, September 30, 2016. (Lannis Waters / The Palm Beach Post)
A rendering of All Aboard’s Florida’s West Palm Beach station sits on the top floor of the building, overlooking downtown, after “topping off” ceremonies, signaling construction of the building has hit a new milestone and reached its top elevation, Friday, September 30, 2016. (Lannis Waters / The Palm Beach Post)

Court documents show All Aboard filed an application with the U.S. Department of Transportation in September requesting permission to move forward with the smaller, $600 million bond sale.

All Aboard’s president Michael Reininger pointed to improving economic conditions, adding that a smaller “targeted” sale would be easier to market.

“Since December 2015, we have been monitoring the status of the markets and evaluating potential options for an offering of (tax-exempt bonds),” Reininger wrote in Sept. 30 letter to federal transportation officials. “We are pleased to report that market conditions relative to bond financing began to improve earlier this year and have continued to improve, to the point that we now believe we can conclude an initial offering of (tax-exempt bonds) on favorable terms in the near future.”

In the letter, Reininger said the company planned to consider a second, $1.15 billion bond sale to help pay for rail work between West Palm Beach and Orlando.

“Within the next several weeks, we will separately discuss a new request for an allocation of up to $1.15 billion in (private activity bond) authority for Phase II,” Reininger wrote to federal transportation officials.

In a statement released Tuesday, a citizens group opposing the project said the financing shift was “visible proof” that efforts to block the rail project are working.

“They have no obvious way to fund Phase 2,” Citizens Against Rail Expansion in Florida said. “…They aim to repackage their offer, but pouring bad wine into new bottles doesn’t make it taste any better. It remains to be seen whether the investor community will back even this more limited financing activity. ”

Construction on the first phase of Brightline’s service, which includes three stations and track work between Miami and West Palm Beach, is 70 percent complete, company officials have said.

Brightline’s first train is expected to arrive in south Florida by the end of the year.