By Jane Smith
The city’s Historic Preservation Board in late June turned down Midtown Delray Beach, a mixed-use project proposed by Hudson Holdings, in two 6-0 votes.
The board met for nearly eight hours over two days.
Midtown, at the southwest corner of Swinton and Atlantic avenues, is planned to include 35,049 square feet of retail, 22,525 square feet of restaurants, 21,872 square feet of office, 50 residential inn rooms and two hotels with 109 rooms.
“There’s a lot to like about this project,” said John Miller, board chairman. “But it’s the Disneyfication of Delray with a sanitized development in the middle of a historic district.”
Hudson Holdings wants to move six historic homes along South Swinton Avenue to build an underground garage where the homes sit. To do so, the developer would remove all trees and then move the structures a second time.
“The landscaping is every bit a part of historic nature of the buildings,” said Board Member Angela Budano. The federal standards for historic structures point to retaining and preserving the historic character of the property, she said.
Another historic home would be moved one block south, to serve as an extra room for the Sundy House. “This is our Plymouth Rock,” said Board Member Bill Bathurst, referring to the historic Sundy House.
The board also voted on eight relocations and nine demolitions of the contributing structures. They were unanimous in insisting the Cathcart House stay in its current location.
Even so, the board’s votes are advisory. Midtown can proceed to the city’s Planning & Zoning Board on July 17 and to the City Commission on Aug. 1. Both bodies would review the project’s conditional use request to allow buildings wider than 60 feet to be in the historic district and the abandonment of a platted alley.
Hudson Holdings has 10 business days to appeal the historic board’s site plan denial.
The developer purchased the approximately 7 acres in 2014, after the City Commission granted a commercial zoning overlay on the Old School Square Historic Arts District. The overlay allows hotels in the historic district that includes the Hudson Holdings land.
Midtown was previously called Swinton Commons.