HOLLYWOOD – (CBS4) – The recession wreaked havoc on development projects throughout South Florida as banks tightened lending.

The city of Hollywood has a new plan to get deep pocketed investors back in the game.

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The city commission on Wednesday approved the Professional Sports and Entertainment Enterprise Program. It aims to identify athletes and entertainers who are interested in developing projects in Hollywood. City officials would develop and approve projects with community input, then athletes and entertainers would be able to get involved.

Samari Rolle and Stockar McDougle, both former NFL players who are South Florida natives attended Wednesday’s commission meeting and are interested in participating. 

“As a professional athlete, you look for good opportunities to transition to life off the field,” McDougle said. ” Also as a professional athlete coming from the inner city, I look for opportunities to give back to other local inner cities.”

The city is looking to build on 50 vacant lots the city owns — like a 14 acre field near Pembroke Road, a parking lot near City Hall and several acres on Adams Street near Dixie Highway. 

Commissioners say many projects in the city are on hold because banks have stopped lending. They’re looking for people with money who want to give back. 

“It would redevelop areas that couldn’t be redeveloped,” Vice-Mayor Patricia Asseff said. “It would be able to bring housing in for people that we couldn’t do it for because we couldn’t go to a bank — none of the banks are lending money.”

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The projects on these vacant lands could be affordable housing, retail or office buildings. City leaders want to see development that benefits the community.

The program is the brainchild of Hollywood City Manager Cameron Benson. He said the city needed to get creative to make up for lost funding.

“Projects that we thought that were going to happen downturn and along our beach are not happening because of the credit crunch,” Benson explained. 

Samari Rolle said that as a native of the area — he grew up in Miami Gardens — finding the right project that impacts the community is important.

“It’s an opportunity for a lot of athletes to have a second career and more importantly it’s an opportunity to use the Hollywood resources to bring more jobs and more attention in a good way,” Rolle said.

Both Rolle and McDougle attended the meeting on behalf of the realty company owned by NFL linebacker and former University of Miami star Ray Lewis.

The next step — the city will begin creating a list of athletes and celebrities or organizations that are interested in development opportunities.

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