By Jane Smith

    Two historic homes on Ocean Avenue in Boynton Beach are moving closer to becoming restaurants.
    For the Magnuson House at 211 E. Ocean Ave., the city’s Community Redevelopment Agency board approved a 60-day extension in January for the Local Development Corp. to explore a new restaurant concept.
    “The original concept of an Italian restaurant would not work in this location,” said broker Tom Prakas, who represented the Philadelphia-based Local Development Co. Instead, the buyer is proposing a casual, hip beer garden with barbecue areas and lots of outdoor activities.
    They plan to serve “smoked barbecue to complement the craft beers,” said architect Jim Williams when showing his sketch plan of the outdoor areas for the eatery.
    The buyer wants to respect the historic nature of the house, Prakas told the CRA board.
    CRA Executive Director Vivian Brooks said she supported the extra time beyond Jan. 4 because the house was never renovated to be a commercial structure.
    Local Development has agreed to pay $255,000, the appraised value of the Magnuson House. The firm also will receive another $200,000 to build out the restaurant.
    For the Little House, at 480 E. Ocean Ave., the sale is expected to close in April.
    Mike Simon, assistant CRA director, told the board that a company created by Ocean Ridge Commissioner Richard Lucibella and partner Barbara Ceuleers signed the contract in December to purchase the historic home for $335,000.  
    The site plan is due by March 31 and two weeks later the sale will close, Simon said. The money already sits in an escrow account managed by agency’s law firm.
    Lucibella still plans to lease the restaurant to Lisa Mercado, who owns the Living Room eatery on Congress Avenue in Boynton Beach. She plans to serve tapas and beer and wine.
    The new version of the Little House can open by December if the latest construction schedule holds. As to the name, Lucibella said he would leave that to Mercado to decide. She could not be reached for comment.
    The two houses carry local historic designations, meaning the city’s Historic Resources Preservation Board would have to approve any renovations.
    In other CRA-related action, Boynton Beach City Commissioner Mike Fitzpatrick named his selection to the agency’s citizen advisory board. At the first City Commission meeting in January, Fitzpatrick picked Paula Melley, a consultant who runs Timeless Beauty Institute. Fitzpatrick was not at the December commission meeting when his fellow commissioners picked the other six panelists.
    The advisory board members will make recommendations to the CRA board about activities, programs and financial issues in the CRA area.

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