West Palm Beach’s major construction boom: Good or bad?

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By AARON WORMUS
Exclusive to Palms West Monthly
Posted March 3, 2019

West Palm Beach is in the middle of a construction boom the likes of which have not been seen in the city since the 1920s and ’30s. Here’s a quick rundown of what’s springing up:

  • The city commission just approved a new condo at 1509 S. Flagler Dr. This as-yet unnamed building, at 300 feet tall, will become the tallest building on the city’s waterfront. Its 24 floors were touted as innovative enough to warrant a waiver to the city code.
  • Plans for the 25-story, 83-unit La Clara condominium at 1515 S. Flagler Dr. has been approved. It will replace the 1515 Tower that was imploded nine years ago. Ground hasn’t been broken yet, but its sales office has agents in a tizzy ready to sell the $2 million to $5 million units.
  • Just to the north, the 25-story Bristol Palm Beach towers over the Intracoastal on the site of the former Chapel by the Lake. Construction started in 2016 and now the units are almost move-in ready. The ultra-luxury apartments sell from $5 million to $25 million with 80 percent reportedly sold.
  • Just west of the Bristol, at Lakeview Avenue and Dixie Highway, the 14-story, 150-room Canopy by Hilton broke ground in 2017 and is expected to open in just a few months.
  • Palm Beach billionaire Jeff Greene has broken ground on what will be the county’s tallest building, One West Palm. This $300 million project at Dixie and Quadrille Boulevard will have two towers, the highest reaching 426 feet. Each tower will be a mix of retail, offices condos and hotel space.
  • On the site of the old city hall on the waterfront, the $145 million Flagler Banyan Square project is coming along quickly. It includes 251 apartments and a 200-room “Grand Hotel.” There will also be retail and office, a public observation deck and a new waterfront park. The project is slated to open later this year.
  • CityPlace is undergoing its biggest upgrade since it opened in 2000. Rosemary Avenue and Hibiscus Street are being converted into curbless two-lane streets with ample pedestrian pathways, contemporary lighting and lush landscaping. More information can be found at futureofcityplace.com.
  • Plans are approved for an 18-story office tower called 360 Rosemary, as well as a 21-story condo which will contain 300 to 400 units on the site that was formerly home to Macy’s.
  • The Norton Museum of Art just opened its doors after a massive $100 million improvement project and the Kravis Center is gearing up for a major $50 million capital improvement campaign.
  • Just down the street from the Norton, ground broke on a mixed-use project at 3111 S. Dixie Hwy. It will include two 5-story buildings and three 3-story buildings that will house 300 apartment units and contain 17,000 square feet of ground floor retail space.
  • Heading back downtown, work will start soon on the $5 million streetscape project on the 100 and 200 blocks of Clematis Street. The project will continue the sleek “curbless” design implemented on the 300 block last year. Construction should be complete by October.

I touched on everything that is currently in the works, and there’s even more projects in the pipeline!

So, how do you feel about these projects? Are you excited about the new opportunities, residents and businesses that will flood our city? Do you wonder if this building boom is sustainable. 

Maybe you’re concerned that the town you grew up in is changing into something that you no longer recognize. 

Personally, I love living in a city that has a bustling downtown that attracts businesses and provides amenities to residents, as well as providing a world-class cultural destination.

On the flip side, a mayoral candidate recently said that 17 percent of the city lives in poverty. Much within walking distance of these multi-million dollar developments. 

It seems the long-term success of our city relies on the welfare of our neighborhoods, providing services to those who are at-risk and maintaining a high quality of life for every citizen regardless of their socioeconomic status.

On March 12 we will vote in a new mayor and a new commissioner for our downtown district. Those elected to run our city will certainly impact the future of our city. Research the candidates and be sure to vote.

Pictured above: Rendering of The Bristol Palm Beach’s front entrance.

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