Affiliated Development’s project, called The Pierce after the historical barefoot mailman, Charlie Pierce, appears to be back on track, with a final agreement with the Boynton Beach Community Redevelopment Agency to be considered June 7. Rendering provided
By Tao Woolfe
The city has reached a tentative agreement with Affiliated Development to build a $73 million complex of apartments, retail stores, restaurants and green space along the west side of Federal Highway.
The agreement — which is expected to be finalized at a special meeting of the Boynton Beach Community Redevelopment Agency board on June 7 — was hammered out after months of sometimes testy negotiations.
Two of the main sticking points were:
• A demand by the city that 150 parking spaces, above those required by city code, be provided for the public.
• An agreement on the number of workforce housing units — or affordable apartments — that would be provided.
The developer has tentatively agreed to the extra parking spaces and to provide affordable rental apartment units with this breakdown: 50% (118 units) of the total 236 apartments will remain affordable for 15 years; 30% (about 70 units) will remain affordable for 30 years; and 5% (11 units) will remain affordable in perpetuity.
Affiliated originally wanted to keep all of the increased tax revenue its project would produce, for a 15-year period, as a subsidy to make the workforce housing portion feasible. City commissioners, who act as the CRA’s board of directors, have said that amount would deprive the CRA of needed revenue for other projects. Affiliated has tentatively agreed to taking only 95% of the tax revenues, which would be capped at $7 million over 15 years.
Affiliated would pay the city $5.5 million for the land.
Although Affiliated’s plans for Hurricane Alley Raw Bar & Restaurant and other existing retail stores on Ocean Avenue were not discussed in detail at the May 10 CRA meeting, it was clear from comments that those businesses would remain part of the final plan.
The developer said in March that Hurricane Alley would be moved from its Ocean Avenue location to a new home at the north end of the project, along Boynton Beach Boulevard next to the Florida East Coast Railway tracks.
In answer to a question about whether the developer would hire local residents to help build the project, Affiliated President Jeff Burns said the company would hold job fairs in Boynton Beach to achieve that goal.
The commissioners, and members of the public who spoke during a public input session, seemed enthusiastic about the pending deal.
“This is beautiful — sheer art with trees and green space, not a canyon of concrete,” said Susan Oyer, whose family owned the property where Hurricane Alley is situated and two other adjacent parcels. The family sold the three parcels to the CRA for $3.6 million in December.
It was unclear in March whether Affiliated would be chosen as the developer for the site that sits between Ocean Avenue and Boynton Beach Boulevard.
Former Mayor Steven Grant worked to nail down an agreement with Affiliated before he left office in March, but that effort ran into resistance from former Commissioner Christina Romelus.
Romelus had asked commissioners to dismiss Affiliated and go instead with Related Urban, the second-ranked applicant that had offered to make a portion of its apartments be affordable workforce housing in perpetuity.
But CRA staff continued to negotiate with Affiliated and is now working on the final agreement.
In other development-related news, the City Commission is looking at imposing a height restriction on city buildings, especially on the east side of town, to make the city friendlier.
The commission is also considering mandating more green space for developments.
Commissioner Thomas Turkin, who suggested both changes, has asked city staff to look into other Palm Beach County cities’ height and green space requirements — and zoning practices — and bring the findings back to the commission in the coming weeks.