2009: A year of rejuvenation along the coast

By Mary Thurwachter

Despite a sluggish economy, 2009 brought some upscale and needed improvements to the barrier islands. From new seaside hotels, clubs, restaurants and pampering spas, to new roofs on town halls and an end to the roadwork on A1A, the past year came with plenty of welcome change:

The Delray Beach Club completed a $5 million renovation … and won a Site Plan Review and Appearance Board award from the city for new commercial development and signage. The overhaul broke ground in early 2007 and was completed last June. The renovation includes a new poolside tiki bar and kitchen, a new Grille Room and wrap around oceanside terrace. The main clubhouse was completely redecorated, including the men’s and ladies’ locker rooms and a new fitness center.

The bridge tender’s house got a major spruce up at the Linton Bridge in Delray. Some said the bridge tender’s house looked like a prison guard tower, but that’s no longer the case. After a $229,000 remodel — completed in April and paid for by the city of Delray and the county — the bridge tender’s new digs has a Key West look, with a new metal roof and hurricane-resistant windows and doors.

Sandoway House Nature Center named a new executive director. Say hello to Chris Koch, the guy in charge of day-to-day operations at Sandoway since mid-September. If you’re a regular at the South Florida Science Museum or the Palm Beach Zoo, you may already know him because he worked at those places previously. He’s a graduate of Palm Beach Atlantic University.

A pair of luxury beach hotels debuted.
The Omphoy, a 134-room boutique beach resort built from the bones of the old Hilton Hotel, opened in August. A sleek and contemporary hotel with an Asian feel, the Omphoy arrived with a Michelle Bernstein restaurant and New York-based Exhale Spa.

The Seagate Hotel, a 162-room seaside hotel in Delray, began welcoming guests in November. The British Colonial-style hotel is set in the same spot previously occupied by a private beach club, which had been around since 1932. A street-level spa features a Bikram Yoga studio and chef Adam Gottlieb, formerly of the Palm Beach Yacht Club, presides over the cuisine at the Atlantic Grille.

Surf Sliders
restaurant opened on Atlantic Avenue in December, with a surfing theme, at the corner of Atlantic and A1A, just north of Boston’s. (See Thom Smith’s Along the Avenues.)

Delray completed a major reclaimed-water project. The effort delivers reused water for irrigation to the east side of the Intracoastal Waterway, from Atlantic Avenue north to Beach Drive.

Two fourth-grade classrooms
were remodeled at Gulf Stream School. And a new classroom was added by remodeling storage space. The $140,000 project was done during the summer break, when hurricane windows were added and more energy-efficient air conditioners were installed. The school used green designs and eco-friendly materials, like all-natural bulletin boards and non-toxic paints with no volatile organic compounds. Electronics and furniture no longer needed were donated to charities and new desks were made of fortified recycled wood. Florida plants were used in landscaping and teachers are using LCD projectors to show documents on white boards in order to reduce paper consumption.

Gulf Stream’s Town Hall got a new roof. The barrel tile roof was a $36,400 job, but the work didn’t end there. The town also installed impact windows and doors at a cost of $60,700, and made stucco repairs to Town Hall and the police station for $36,400.

Manalapan’s Town Hall also has a new tile roof. It was a $40,000 project.

The Coastal Star office opened at 5011 N. Ocean Blvd., Ocean Ridge, in September. It’s in the shop previously occupied by Garment Care International dry cleaners.

Vin’s Gulfstream Texaco & Food Mart at 5002 N. Ocean Blvd., near Briny Breezes, did a major renovation in July. They installed a 16,000 gallon gas tank, put in new plumbing and electrical and gave the station a fresh coat of paint. The project cost $200,000.

A new sand transfer plant
was built at the Boynton Inlet. It’s been 42 years since the last plant was replaced, so it was time! The transfer plant, jetties and the sea wall around Bird Island were reconstructed in a $7 million project extended through November. The plant redistributes sand that shifts because of the inlet.

There’s a new breakwater going in off Ocean Ridge. (See: Family names spot for Manalapan diver.)

In Ocean Ridge, Florida Power and Light did a major power pole replacement over the summer that had traffic tied up. Concrete poles replaced wooden ones from River Drive south to Harbour Drive. The new, hardened poles will stand up to hurricanes better, town officials say.

The Department of Transportation wrapped up its work on A1A from Manalapan south to the Boynton Inlet. The 3-mile stretch on State Road A1A south of The Ritz-Carlton was completed early in the year and was part of an overall $10.4 million project to repave roadway and improve drainage, landscaping, signs and lighting.

Two five-star resorts launched snazzy new spas.
First, The Four Seasons unveiled its 11,000-square-foot spa, designed by Canadian interior designer and Palm Beach resident Brian Gluckstein. It has 12 treatment rooms, multiple relaxation areas, private wet areas with rejuvenating whirlpools and steam rooms and men’s salon where nail and hair services and hot shaves are offered. In March, The Ritz-Carlton Palm Beach opened its 42,000-square-foot Eau Spa, with an emphasis on sensory experiences with touches of wet and whimsy and blended with baroque designs and modern accents. Any of the spa’s 19 villas can be customized to suit the tastes of customers. Color therapy through LED lighting defines wall colors with shades outlined by ancient cultures that evoke specific moods.

The Courtyard Café & Grille opened in Plaza del Mar. This breakfast and lunch eatery opened in March after a total renovation. It’s located at 244 S, Ocean Blvd., where Café del Mar used to be, and open for breakfast and lunch.

The William O. Lockhart Municipal Pier
at Lake Worth Beach reopened in May. Hurricanes Frances and Jeanne in 2004 tore the 960-foot fishing pier, but it’s back in business now. The eastern portion of the pier was built 5 feet higher than the old one to reduce the risk of wave damage caused by future storms. Lake Worth persuaded the Federal Emergency Management Agency to cover the $1 million additional cost to elevate the pier. FEMA paid 90 percent of the $3.4 million reconstruction cost, while the state and the city paid 5 percent each. The original bridge was constructed in 1959.

Palm Beach’s Par 3 Golf Course re-opened after a $4.5 million facelift. The 50-year-old club course, with 39 acres and 18 holes, re-opened in December following an eight-month renovation, with a new irrigation system and salt-tolerant greens requiring less watering.

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