By Jane Smith
The renovation of the historic Boynton Beach high school is nearly finished.
The restoration work will end in early November, city staff said in mid-August while giving a tour of the restored building.
Among the challenges to restoring the 92-year-old building were adding a sprinkler system and 180 impact windows. The frames had to be rebuilt to withstand the extra weight of the impact windows, said Andrew Mack, Public Works director.
A newly hired cultural events person will start in September, said Lori LaVerriere, city manager.
The new employee’s first task will be figuring out the rental rates for the second-floor auditorium and other rooms. The city plans to begin taking deposits as soon as rental rates are set, including for weddings on the second floor.
“We need to start making money from this restoration,” LaVerriere said.
Classes and rentals aren’t expected to start until late spring 2020 — after the City Center next door is completed and a new parking garage is built. The City Center building will combine City Hall and the library and sits directly across Ocean Avenue from the high school. The city’s Community Redevelopment Agency plans to move to the fourth floor of the City Center building.
ABOVE: The southern yellow pine ceiling of the old high school gym is original, and the space will be rented out for concerts and other events. The building will be the city’s cultural center. BELOW: Of the two kapok trees on the property, this one on the west side of the school was preserved in place in what will be a park area. The other tree was moved across the street.
The high school and City Center will be among the first to be finished in Town Square, a $250 million, 16-acre project that will create a downtown for Boynton Beach.
The ground floor of the high school building will create “a nucleus of arts uses,” LaVerriere said. The rooms will hold arts and dance classes, once held in the now demolished Civic, Madsen and Arts centers nearby. The classes are now scattered throughout the city in various park buildings.
Plans include two outdoor patios accessible from the first floor of the high school. On the west side, visitors will exit into Kapok Park with four exercise stations for use by older teens and adults. A small park for kids under 5 will also be on this side, along with a meditation water fountain.
Brides will be able to take wedding pictures under the large kapok tree.
The east side will have a small patio for relaxing and a playground for kids.
The high school’s second floor, where the city expects to make the most of its rental income, features a new roof, restored wooden trusses and a new hardwood floor. It can seat about 250 people at tables or 500 for concerts.
The high school has a warming kitchen on the first floor but not a full kitchen.
On the second floor, performers and brides will have a green room to use.
The high school was added to the city’s list of historic places in February 2013. It was designed by prominent school architect William Manly King, who used features from the Mediterranean revival and art deco styles, according to the Boynton Beach Historical Society.