New director takes over Delray Beach's Downtown Development Auth - Fox29 WFLX TV, West Palm Beach, FL-news & weather

New director takes over Delray Beach's Downtown Development Authority

DELRAY BEACH - It's the end of an era in Delray Beach. The woman who spent 22 years shaping downtown is off the job.

Marjorie Ferrer served as the executive director of the Downtown Development Authority since 1993.

Downtown Delray Beach didn't always have busy shops and restaurants on nearly every corner.

"About 25 years ago, downtown was probably mostly vacant and somewhat unsafe," remembers Steve Ackerman.

Ferrer gets a lot of credit for turning downtown into what it is today.

David Cook from Hand's Office and Art Supplies says Ferrer left her mark.

She's responsible for the lights on trees along Atlantic Avenue, the 100ft Christmas Tree, countless events, and marketing Delray Beach as the place to be.

"Her innovative ideas made this avenue come alive," Cook says.

The Downtown Development Authority Board did not renew her contract this year.

Ryan Boylston, one board member, says there has always been a plan in place to have Associate Director Laura Simon take over. Boylston says it reached the point where Ferrer and Simon were doing a lot of the same jobs.

Ferrer says she offered board members a one-year succession plan where she would stay on for 2016 before handing the reins over to Simon.

Four of the seven board members voted to have Simon take over now. The move will allow the agency to hire two employees to handle operations, marketing and technology tasks. The change will allow Simon to focus on big projects. 

So what does the future hold? You can expect to see a lot of the same events and festivals.

New apartments are under construction downtown now, and more are on the way. The beach area will be spruced up. Big projects like an iPic movie theater and Atlantic Crossing are in the works.

"I think it's going to be okay, I think it's going to take a while to fill Marjorie's shoes, it's going to take probably more than two people, but I'm confident everything is going to be fine," Cook says.

Simon says she's looking forward to an open, collaborative culture in downtown.

People in Delray Beach say the city is going in the right direction, but they don't want it to lose the character it's built over the past two decades.

Ferrer is already opening a new chapter in her life. She launched Downtown Management Consulting. She'll work with cities to improve their downtowns.

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