By Jane Smith
Within a week of receiving Boynton Beach City Commission approval in mid-June, Riverwalk Plaza had finished landscaping the parking lot and entrances off Woolbright Road.
“The easternmost entrance had a weird S-curve shape,” said Luke Therien, who reopened his family’s Prime Catch restaurant on June 24. “Now you can drive south to Jo-Ann Fabric and Crafts store or turn left to Prime Catch.”
Therien closed his restaurant in mid-March when all nonessential businesses were shut down to limit the spread of the coronavirus. He did not reopen Prime Catch in May for takeout orders because the parking lot was torn up to install storm drains. He waited until that work was finished.
“Now the parking lot in the whole center is paved,” Therien said. “All the landscaping is done, and new storm drains have been installed.”
Riverwalk Plaza, owned by Isram Realty, sits at the southeast corner of Federal Highway and Woolbright Road in Boynton Beach. It has city approval to replace the main building with a 10-story apartment project.
The Hallandale Beach-based company paid $9.5 million for the aging center in March 2011. The nearly 10-acre plaza contained a Winn-Dixie grocery store that closed in January 2015.
Throughout 2019, Isram built a dual-space Federal Highway building, which houses a Chipotle’s fast-casual restaurant and has space for another tenant.
Isram renovated another building in the plaza that houses Walgreens drugstore, Jo-Ann Fabric and Craft, Sushi Simon restaurant and Bond Street Ale and Coffee.
At the same time, Isram had to update the underground utilities, fix the drainage for the complex and raise the parking lot, creating driving challenges for shoppers and diners.
Isram has submitted its building plans to the city for the 10-story apartment complex, said Baruch Cohen, chief operating officer for the firm. Construction will start Sept. 1 and take two years to finish.
The rainy weather and the coronavirus shutdown are not responsible for the delayed start, Cohen said. The parking lot work was complex, he said.
Initially, Isram had wanted to use the part of the westernmost parcel of two it owns on the plaza’s south side for a construction staging area for the project. But because the parcels contain mangroves, their use must be approved by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Isram plans to donate the easternmost parcel, about 5.8 acres, along the Intracoastal Waterway to Boynton Beach.
On June 9, Isram supplied additional information that still must be reviewed, according to the Army Corps spokeswoman in Jacksonville.
In other action at the June 16 meeting, city commissioners approved the rezoning of the 108-acre Boynton Beach Mall. It went from the community mall category to a suburban mixed-use category. The city became the petitioner on the second reading while the five owners try to create a master plan for the property. The site plan will come up for approval in the future.