The Coastal Star

Delray Beach: Atlantic Crossing site plan decision delayed

By Jane Smith

    The City Commission agreed by a 3-2 vote to pull the latest Atlantic Crossing site plan from its March 1 agenda.
    Commissioners Shelly Petrolia and Mitch Katz voted no because they want to have a hearing on giving two alleys to the Atlantic Crossing project on which there are plans to build.
    The latest site plan will be sent to the city’s review board to discuss at a special meeting on March 7. Then the commission will take up the revised site plan on April 5.
    The Harbour House Homeowners Association had triggered the review.
    Harbour House sent a letter on Feb. 25 objecting to the commission reviewing the revised site plan without input from the city’s Site Plan Appearance and Review Board.
    The developers’ law firm reluctantly agreed.
    “Process does matter,” said Bruce Leiner, Harbour House president.
    “It’s been a contentious issue,” said Commissioner Al Jacquet. “The community wants input.”
    The latest site plan for the $20 million mixed-use project now shows a two-way access road off Federal Highway into the garage, a circular internal valet loop, a more defined loading dock area and safer, raised crosswalks.
    In late February, the Atlantic Crossing team sent a large postcard to Delray Beach voters urging them to say: “Yes to Atlantic Crossing!” and avoid a potential “$40 million judgment.”
    Atlantic Crossing developers sued Delray Beach in June, claiming the city has not issued a site-plan certification that was approved in November 2013 and affirmed by a previous City Commission in January 2014. In the fall, the lawsuit was moved to federal court.
    Mayor Cary Glickstein is concerned about a potential multimillion-dollar jury award that Delray Beach taxpayers may face. He called an impromptu meeting in late February of former elected and community leaders, town elders and friends from different parts of the city. They provided a longtime local perspective without a connection to the Atlantic Crossing project, he said.
    “I value their objectivity and insight,” he said. “I called them together not to hear my thoughts, but rather for me to hear from them.”
    The lawsuit is so complex that a jury might not be able to understand the city’s position that it still owns two alleys and one block of Northeast Seventh Avenue needed for the Atlantic Crossing project. Instead, the jury may focus on the unapproved site plan, awarding multiple millions in damages to the developers.
    The proposed Atlantic Crossing sits stalled on 9.2 acres at the northeast corner of Federal Highway and East Atlantic Avenue in the city’s downtown.
    The project, developed by a partnership between Ohio-based Edwards Cos. and Ocean Ridge resident Carl DeSantis, will contain 343 luxury condos and apartments plus 39,394 square feet of restaurants, 37,642 square feet of shops and 83,462 square feet of office space.
    Atlantic Crossing’s team continues to try to reach an amicable settlement with the city, said Don DeVere, vice president of Edwards Cos.
    In January, the city’s Review Board rejected a modified site plan that showed two options: a one-way or a two-way drive into the garage.
    The city’s traffic engineering consultant said the roads created too much internal conflict along Northeast Seventh Avenue without benefiting the traffic flow inside the project. The alternate routes were designed in June at the behest of the City Commission.
    The city and the developers sent a joint motion to the federal court asking for the stay to be extended until April 5.

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