By Florence Kizza
DELRAY BEACH — Atlantic Plaza II was the main topic of discussion at the Delray Beach Site Plan Review and Appearance Board’s March 11 meeting.
The mixed-use complex, planned for nine acres at Atlantic Avenue and Federal Highway, includes retail, office space and living units. But the six-building project has generated controversy.
While most of the 40 or so Delray residents at the meeting seemed to be on board with the project, not surprisingly a few issues were raised. Robert Victorin of the Beach Property Owners Association expressed concern about the impact of traffic flow on Atlantic Avenue due to the proposed parallel parking spots. He also commented that the proposed center median on the street would be costly, have no use, and encourage illegal crossing of the street by pedestrians. But in the end, Victorin said, he favored the project as a “good advancement for Delray Beach.”
Claudia Willis, a resident on Marine Way, asked the developers to rethink the height and mass of the large buildings. Resident Mary Walton said, “I really want a development here, but it doesn’t work for me. It feels too big. It doesn’t feel like Delray.”
Bill Plum, a Delray Beach resident for more than 20 years, praised the project, saying that it will be “reviving Delray Beach to something vibrant.” And Garrison Banks has been coming to City Hall meetings about the project since the idea first came up. “It’s the buzz around town,” he said. “I’m excited about the project.”
In his presentation to the board, Michael Weiner, a representative for project developers CDS International Holdings, said the development will implement several green initiatives, including recycling, solar water heating and reclaimed-water irrigation.
Joe Snider, an architect and green building specialist, said these moves would help position Delray Beach as a green city. Jason Bregman, a Delray Beach resident with expertise in ecological design, echoed Snider’s comments and took them one step further, encouraging the developers to make the buildings visibly green. Resident Michael Singer agreed. “There is nothing in the aesthetics of this building that reflect the green initiatives,” he commented.
Efforts of the developers to integrate historical design into Atlantic Plaza II did not go unnoticed. Singer commented, “We know that we live in a contemporary world. Why are we looking to the past for the future?”
Meanwhile, Robert Ganger of the Delray Beach Historical Society offered his endorsement of the project, saying, “we do stand by to work with the developers as the designs are refined insofar as we can provide any useful material to the architect.”
In the end, the board unanimously voted for CDS’ site plan, architectural elevations and landscape plan as long as certain conditions of approval are met. Members of the board commented that CDS’ presentation was “probably the best we’ve had,” and that this is an “excellent project” that has “come a long way.”