High Rises In The Southend- The Saga Continues

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The proposed development of 3111 South Dixie Highway with five high-rises (see details in our former blog post) is once again the subject of discussion. On Monday night (December 5th), the WPB City Commission will take their first vote. This is your chance to voice your opinion.

The meeting begins at 5:00 PM at City Hall and the projects will be reviewed sometime after 5.

How Do You Feel About High-Rises On South Dixie?

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Learn what both sides are saying about the development of 3111 South Dixie Highway and decide how you want to weigh in.

The Background

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The Prospect Place office center (just south of Belvedere) was built for retail in the 1950s and once home to a Sears department store and Winn-Dixie grocery store. When Sears moved to the former Palm Beach Mall, the buildings were converted to offices.

In December 2006, an entity that included West Palm Beach broker Don DeWoody, the Avison Young firm, and Time Equities, Inc. (a family-owned real estate investment company based in New York City) bought Prospect Place for $17.5 million and kept it an office center.

As time went by, occupancy fell and the owners were unable to find tenants for the space. This situation, in combination with growth in residential demand and a surge of interest in developing the Dixie Highway corridor, led the group to start contemplating new ideas.

In a 2015 Palm Beach Post article, Robert Singer, director of development for Time Equities, disclosed that while they considered low-rise townhouse apartments, the entire tract would need to be filled to make the project work financially. Additionally, according to Singer, that option would provide no interaction with the neighborhood.

They ultimately envisioned a mixed-use facility that blends commercial, residential and public park space.

The Development

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The new project is being spearheaded by Francis Greenburger, the Founder and Chairman of Time Equities, Inc.

In a letter to the community on the 3111 South Dixie website, Greenburger contends that the property (built for retail purposes in the 1950s) is today “out-of-sync with the market for office tenants. It is also out-of-sync with the more recent community efforts to activate the Dixie Highway corridor.”

Working in conjunction with world-famous architect Helmut Jahn and local architect Keith Spina, of Glidden Spina Architects in West Palm Beach, Greenburger’s proposed plan for the land would be a mix of retail, residential and open park spaces that he believes will be “transformative” for the Dixie corridor, the surrounding neighborhoods and West Palm Beach as a whole.

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What are the specifics of the proposal?

  • 18,500 SF of boutique retail stores and restaurants along the property’s Dixie frontage (This would include six freestanding shops and a series of mini-plazas featuring outdoor cafe seating, umbrellas, and a playground.)
  • Five residential condominium buildings (each 14 stories with 60 condominiums) spaced 60 feet apart and set back to the west along the railroad tracks.
  • In between the retail and residential components will be approximately one acre of lushly landscaped park space, which will be open to the public during daylight hours.

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Tomorrow, Tuesday October 18th the Planning Board for the City of West Palm Beach will take action on the proposed project at 6 PM in the City Commission Chambers at City Hall.

The Opposition

Citizens for Thoughtful Growth, a local organization “dedicated to protecting the quality of life for West Palm Beach citizens and businesses by advocating controlled growth and preservation of an appropriate Zoning Code and Comprehensive Plan” issued their opinion on the project on their Facebook page.

“Anyone who is concerned about the future of South Dixie and the potential impact of high-rises lining the corridor adjacent to single family neighborhoods is strongly encouraged to attend.

This project may not be at the end of your street, but if this project is approved, it may well open the door to others that will affect you, the quality of your life in your neighborhood, and your property values.

The proposed project consists of a small amount of retail along Dixie and FIVE high-rises, each 170 feet tall. This is the approximate height of One City Plaza and other buildings in the downtown.

This is a project that is massively out of scale and ignores the surrounding height and scale (size and mass) of both the surrounding neighborhoods and the existing development pattern along South Dixie Highway.

This project requires the City to change its current laws governing development – The Comprehensive Plan and the zoning map – as well to grant special approvals such as variances and other exceptions to the normal rules for the developers.

The decisions made on Prospect Place will set a precedent in motion that will very likely influence future decisions and requests by developers for other large parcels along the corridor. The future of the 8111 South Dixie has yet to be determined, and there are other parcels that may well come forward for development in the near future.”

What do you think?

If you are not able to go to the meeting, you can send written comments to Jroach@wpb.org and ask that these comments be given to Planning Board Members and entered into the meeting record.

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Tonight’s SENA Meeting: Sober Homes, Chain of Lakes, Sugar Tour & Property Tax Question are all on the agenda

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March SENA General Meeting
Thursday, March 3rd : 6:30pm till 8:00pm 
South Olive Community Center at 345 Summa St.

Tonight’s SENA meeting is packed with information and issues that may impact you as a South End resident.

SOBER HOMES IN THE SOUTH END
Legislative update from Commissioner Materio. Get the newest information about what’s happening in Tallahassee to address this situation in our neighborhood.

BLUEWAY TRAILS CHAIN OF LAKES PRESENTATION

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This is the project to build a lift system in the C-51 canal that would create open access for small boats to the intracoastal from the western waterways.

FREE TOUR OF THE SUGAR INDUSTRY THIS SATURDAY:
RSVP at the meeting, by email or on Facebook.

PROPERTY TAX EXEMPTION QUESTION
A referendum to answer this ballot question: Shall the City Commission of the City of West Palm Beach be authorized to grant, pursuant to s. 3, Art. VII of the State Constitution, property tax exemptions to new businesses and expansions of existing businesses that are expected to create new, full time jobs in the City of West Palm Beach?

Yes – For authority to grant exemptions
No – Against authority to grant exemptions

Presented by Chris Roog Economic Director of the City of West Palm Beach.

NOT TO MENTION PIZZA, COOKIES AND THE SENA KIDS CLUB WITH REC CENTER COUNSELORS PROVIDING ACTIVITIES FOR CHILDREN.

 

Sober Homes in the Southend? Town Hall Meeting This Wednesday.

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This Wednesday, October 14, there will be a community engagement town hall meeting to discuss sober homes and responsive actions that policy makers can take to balance the issue. The town hall will be an opportunity for residents to engage early in the discussion and offer local solutions to community needs and challenges.

What’s the skinny on this issue?

  • Many towns and cities have attempted to regulate sober homes, but have found themselves restricted by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) as well as federal fair housing laws.
  • Sober homes, or halfway houses, are not regulated by the state since they do not provide treatment. And because alcoholism and addiction are recognized mental disorders, people who suffer from these conditions are protected under the ADA.
  • In February 2015, Rep. Lois Frankel, D-West Palm Beach, told a group of mayors and other municipal officials from her district that she had asked Housing and Urban Development Sec. Julian Castro and officials in the Justice Department about ways to help local governments regulate sober houses without violating federal law.
  • In June 2015, Governor Scott signed the “Sober Home Bill” into law. This bill establishes a voluntary certification program for recovery residences and recovery residence administrators. It prohibits licensed substance abuse treatment providers from referring patients to recovery residences which are not certified or not owned and operated by a licensed substance abuse treatment provider.

This is an issue that can impact our local community. Learn where the government officials stand and voice your opinion this Wednesday.

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The New West Palm Beach Golf Course: The Public Spoke, But Did The City Listen?

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In recent months, the city has been looking to WPB residents to give their opinions on the future of 8111 S. Dixie Hwy, the Palm Coast Plaza, and the West Palm Beach Municipal Golf Course.

Among the ideas proposed by the City were to shrink the Municipal Golf Course to a Par-3 course or to a 9-hole course and develop the land as residential property.

In a September 8 city commission workshop, Natasha Alonso, Director of urban design and planning for consultant group Redevelopment Management Associates, said that residents made it clear they wanted the course to remain 18 holes and have a clubhouse that would “make it more than a golf course — a true gathering place.” They were also pushing for more trees, better entrance approaches and more of a connection with the surrounding community.

RMA heard what the public had to say- kind of. While all the options they presented left the course with 18 holes, three of the four proposals would shorten the course from slightly to significantly.

The Palm Beach Post described the four scenarios from RMA (which range from an estimated $5.9 million to $19.5 million) as follows:

Scenario 1
Scenario-1

Described as requiring the “least invention,” would redesign entries on the north and southeast of the course; add 16 townhomes near Forest Hill; improve landscaping, shading; add bike paths; and redesign the canal waterfront to have more of a connection with the course, which would remain a 72-par, 7,000-yard regulation/championship course. The negatives: it doesn’t maximize waterfront potential, and since it offers little opportunity for private residential development the project would solely rely on public money. Estimated price: $5,933,3766.

Scenario 2
Scenario-2

Introduces a road that rings the course; puts a clubhouse on the south central part of the course, near the water; also has 16 townhomes but adds 218 residential units around the course at a variety of prices; adds heavy landscaping, a perimeter path, promenade, fishing pier, kayak-launch area and a connection to the Dreher Park bike trail. The downside: shifting the clubhouse to the south and adding housing means reconfiguring and shortening the course to a par-62, 4,775-yard executive course. Price: $12,908,156.

Scenario 3
Scenario-3

Has entries in the north and southeast; adds a road that rings the course and another that goes through the middle, with 225 houses there and 18 townhouses in the north. The course is reduced to a par-63, at 5,170 yards. The site connects to Dreher Park trail. Southeastern placement of the clubhouse brings opportunity for a connection with the city’s 8111 S. Dixie Hwy. property and “under-bridge connections to really activate that waterfront,” consultant Natasha Alfonso says. Waterfront would include a kayak launch, pavilions, fishing pier, possibly a small restaurant and dock at the clubhouse. Cost: $12,319,815.

Scenario 4
Scenario-4
A marriage of the least-intense and most-intense development scenarios. It contemplates apartment buildings three to six stories tall with 250 units on the east side of the course. The course is left at almost its existing size, with no ring road or central road. The canal would be dredged to make room for 33 houses surrounded by water. The clubhouse would be in the south central section of the waterfront, with a public marina. The trade-off: Most if not all the golf course size would remain but the mid-rise condos would add height and density. Price: $19,493,512, a number elevated by the cost of dredging and sea walls.

Other key points that came out of the workshop:

  • The course is not for sale.  Mayor Jeri Muoio once again asserted that the City has no plans to sell the golf course.
  • Commissioner Shanon Materio revealed her preferences. Materio, whose district encompasses the golf course, said she preferred Scenarios 1 and 4 as they left the course intact as a full-sized championship course and are the most do-able for potential developers. She also stated that she does not oppose putting houses around the course or scenarios that would put housing on Mary Brandon Park.
  • The next step. According to Muoio, the city is looking for redevelopment partners and will present options in meetings with the public soon.

This project is far from over…or even getting started…stay tuned for more…

Does Gregory Road Have A Pole Position? Learn More Tuesday Night.

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In a July post, we told you about FPL’s community powerpoint presentation and open discussion related to their project on Gregory Road (specifically the portion between Olive Ave. and Dixie Highway.) It was FPL’s intention to replace all the old wood poles with concrete poles. The July discussion focused on placement options, back of sidewalk or within the swale area.

FPL has now halted its work at the City’s request. See the note below for more info…

Florida Power & Light Company has been investing in new technology and grid improvements to ensure our customers have reliable electricity every time they flip the switch and that we can get your life back to normal faster when outages do occur. These improvements include installing new, stronger poles, which we are currently doing along Gregory Road. At the City’s request, we have halted this work to address the neighborhood’s questions about our improvements.

We invite you to join us and West Palm Beach City staff on Tuesday, September 15 at 6:30 p.m. at the South Olive Community Center, 345 Summa St, West Palm Beach, as we outline the benefits of these improvements and review the permitting processes necessary to complete the work.

We welcome your engagement and participation at this meeting. Please feel free to contact me at (561) 691-7048, should you have any questions or concerns. Thank you for your interest.

Sincerely,
Don Kiselewski
Director of External Affairs, FPL

While specifically directed at Gregory Road residents, anyone living in the South End is welcomed to attend.

See Into The Southend’s Future Tomorrow Morning

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With two public meetings and a 3-day design charette behind them (see more info here), the RMA is ready to unveil its options for the development of the 8111 S. Dixie Highway property. See the note from SENA below.

Dear Neighbors,

As you may know RMA, the company which manages the City of West Palm Beach’s Community Redevelopment Agency, has been working to create some proposals for the development of the 8111 site and possible tie-ins with the golf course and the Palm Coast Plaza.

After two public meetings and a 3-day design charrette, RMA developed some options which they will present to the public tomorrow at 10am. This is hugely important for the South End and we need as many people to come and show support as possible.
RMA will be presenting on Tuesday at 10am
at the Flagler Gallery, City Hall

We hope to see you there!

Best regards,
Your South End Neighbors

SENA

About SENA

The South End Neighborhood Association was formed in 2004. Our neighborhood in West Palm Beach, Florida is bounded by Southern Boulevard to the north, the Lake Worth spillway to the south, the intracoastal waterway to the east, and the FEC railway tracks to the west. There are more than 2,500 homes in the South End. Currently we have over 300 households as members and SENA is growing fast!

Tonight: See The Future of Dixie (from Okeechobee to Albemarle) at Dramaworks

Changes are coming to South Dixie Highway. Find out what’s happening TONIGHT.

Dear Neighbors,
West Palm Beach Downtown and El Cid Historic Neighborhood Associations invite you to attend a presentation of design concepts for South Dixie Highway (from Okeechobee to Albemarle).

Event will be at Palm Beach Dramaworks from 6 to 8 pm with desserts provided by Ganache Bakery Cafe.

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Best regards,
Your South End Neighbors (SENA)

SENA

Want To Tell The City of WPB How To Spend Your Money? Here’s how…

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The City of West Palm Beach is launching its annual budget city budget road show. This is your chance to find out how they are currently spending your tax dollars and give them your thoughts as to how to spend them in next year’s budget.

Three community workshops will be held this week:

Monday, July 27th
South Olive Community Center
345 Summa Street
6:00pm

Wednesday, July 29th
Gaines Park Community Center
1505 N. Australian Avenue
6:00pm

Thursday, July 30th
Fire Station # 7
8011 Okeechobee Boulevard
6:00pm

Make a point to attend one of these three meetings and let your opinion be heard.

What’s Happening On Gregory Road? Find Out This Thursday…

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From the Southend Neighborhood Association:

Thursday July 9th at 6:30 pm., please join SENA and the City of West Palm Beach Public Works Department to discuss an important project set on Gregory Road. The City and FPL will be making a powerpoint presentation with an open discussion to address FPL’s current project. FPL is set to replace all the old wood poles with concrete poles.

The City has asked SENA to facilitate communication between our members, FPL and the City. The specific area that is affected is Gregory Road between Olive Ave. and Dixie Highway. The discussion will focus on placement options, back of sidewalk or within the swale area.

Even if you do not live on Gregory, we are all neighbors and share in what happens in our community. We would like to make sure we have a large turnout. City is providing refreshments.

Looking forward to seeing you there.

Best regards,
Your South End Neighbors

SENA