By Mary Thurwachter
Construction is expected to begin this month on residential development at Water Tower Commons, a 73-acre retail and residential project east of Interstate 95 on Lantana Road.
The first phase will include 360 apartments in 14 multifamily buildings, a clubhouse with a resort pool, recreation areas and other amenities such as carports and garages. A 6-foot wall will surround the residential development.
Ken Tuma, on behalf of the master developer Lantana Development, received approval during the Jan. 22 Lantana Town Council meeting to reduce the number of parking spaces per unit from 2.5 to 2.15, and to add three monument signs. A landscape plan was also approved.
Water Tower Commons, being built on the site of the former A.G. Holley tuberculosis hospital, is the biggest development in Lantana’s 96-year history. It is expected to bring shops, restaurants, offices and up to 1,100 residential units to the town of more than 10,000 residents.
The property is being developed by Lantana Development, a partnership between Southeast Legacy and Wexford Capital. But Tuma said the residential portion of the project, on 16 acres, will be handled by the Related Group, a leading private developer with 40 years of building and managing high quality communities throughout the world. About 10 years ago, the Related Group built the Moorings, Caribbean-style condos about a mile away along the Intracoastal Waterway.
Construction on the retail portion of Water Tower Commons is about a year behind schedule, in part because of the challenging retail environment, Tuma said.
While council members generally praised the residential design, they weren’t as thrilled about the Colonial Caribbean architecture.
“I do have to admit it looks good,” said Mayor Dave Stewart. “But it doesn’t look like we always thought it would. We wanted more of the seaside village look.”
His colleagues expressed similar concerns.
“I like everything I’ve seen but I’m a little concerned about Colonial Caribbean,” said Vice Mayor Lynn Moorhouse. “We’re a little Key Westy.”
Council member Phil Aridas said adding garages and carports was an upgrade, but also questioned the Colonial Caribbean architecture. “We sell ourselves as a seaside village and we don’t want to lose that,” he said.
Tuma said the architects thought the Key West, fishing village theme was conveyed through color and awnings.
“Colors are what will tie it all together,” he said. Architects said they wanted to bring more elegance to the seaside village look with dancing parapets, very light colored roof and white window frames.
Council members were also concerned that there won’t be elevators in the apartment buildings, even those that have three stories.
“How can you be ADA compliant with three-story buildings and no elevators?” Stewart asked, referring to the Americans with Disabilities Act.
“This does meet ADA standards,” Tuma said. “One hundred twenty units are on the first floor.”
Chamber of Commerce President Dave Arm urged the town to accept the plans.
“This is a project that has to be done,” Arm said, “This is the future of Lantana. If you don’t approve this tonight, this might not be developed by the current ownership.”
Plans were approved by a 4-1 vote, with Stewart the lone dissenter.
“It’s good, but not what I had the vision for,” Stewart said. “I don’t have a good feeling.”
In other news, the Town Council learned it would not have a municipal election on March 13 because Stewart, the only council member whose term is expiring, is the only candidate for the Group 5 position.