The Coastal Star

Delray Beach: Atlantic Avenue projects to change scale of city’s downtown

By Jane Smith

Developers of two massive projects want to bookend the downtown core in Delray Beach.

The eastern project, Atlantic Crossing, sits on 9.2 acres at the northeast corner of Federal Highway and East Atlantic Avenue. 

The $250 million project plans to add 82 luxury condos, 261 apartments, 83,462 square feet of office space, 39,394 square feet of restaurants and 37,642 square feet of shops. 

“The bottom line,” said Andrea Knibbs, the project’s publicist, “they are ready and eager to get started, and are being responsive to neighbors’ concerns as committed to during the approvals.” 

Edwards Cos. of Ohio is sole owner of the project after buying out real estate investor Carl DeSantis in 2016.  

At the western end, Hudson Holdings will appeal to the City Commission on Feb. 6 to grant a site plan for Midtown Delray. The mixed-use complex sits at the southwest corner of South Swinton and West Atlantic avenues.

“We have spent two years modifying the site plan by working with the Historic Preservation Trust members,” said Steve Michael, a principal of Hudson Holdings. “We modified as much as we could.”

Even so, the city’s Historic Preservation Board rejected the project’s site plan twice last year.  In December, the board members unanimously denied the site plan, saying it had not changed enough since they last reviewed it in June. 

The board members said the new parts of the project were incompatible with the one- and two-story historic structures. If approved, Midtown Delray would have 39,386 square feet of retail space, 11,117 square feet of restaurant space, 55,218 square feet of office space, 45 dwelling units and 39 residential inn units, a specific designation created for this property.

A four-story building is planned for Atlantic Avenue with a breezeway into the project. Shops and restaurants would be located on the first floor with offices on the top three floors.

The 6.4-acre Midtown Delray project sits within the Old School Square Historic Arts District. The historic designation put the project under the Historic Board for review.

Underground garage first phase

At Atlantic Crossing, Edwards is waiting for a site work permit for the land cleared between Federal Highway and Northeast Seventh Avenue, said Don DeVere, vice president of Edwards. The developer also is waiting for Florida Power & Light to move power lines. 

The underground garage work will be done first. That will take about a year, DeVere said.

This summer, work can begin on the two southern buildings, south of the two-way road that was added to settle the lawsuit filed by Edwards against the city. Edwards received a portion of Northeast Seventh that sits inside the project. 

The building facing Atlantic will be three stories tall with retail and restaurants on the ground floor and offices on the other floors, according to the site plan. 

A five-story apartment building will have shops on the first floor. Both buildings should be finished by the fourth quarter of 2019, DeVere said.

As promised, Atlantic Crossing will close Northeast Seventh at Northeast First Street at the start of construction, DeVere said. Oversized planters will be used so the closing still looks nice and allows pedestrians and bicyclists to pass through, as the neighbors wanted.

During the first phase, construction workers will park on the western side of the property, DeVere said. 

The owner of the nearby Colony Hotel worries whether she will have to redesign her parking lot when construction starts. “Sometimes, people park in the lot when we don’t have an attendant and guests don’t have a space to park,” said Hilary Roche, managing director and cousin of Jestena Boughton, the Colony’s owner. 

Mayor Cary Glickstein is concerned about traffic problems when construction starts.

“I’m unconvinced the developer understands and has properly planned for the logistical and construction challenges of an excavation area — for underground parking — of this size and so close to a major water body,” he said.  

“It is my hope that city staff will hold them to the requirements we established or halt construction until any self-induced traffic problems are remedied.” 

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