10829793472?profile=RESIZE_710xThe Atlantic Avenue district would run from Swinton to the Intracoastal Waterway on both sides of Atlantic. BELOW: The Ocean Park district would run from Gleason to the beach south of Atlantic Avenue. Maps provided by the City of Delray Beach

10829793863?profile=RESIZE_400xSpecial district near beach also is studied

By Jane Smith

Eager to preserve the heart and soul of its downtown, Delray Beach is poised to create its sixth historic district — and the first since 1997 — early next year.
The Atlantic Avenue Historic District would start at Swinton Avenue and continue east to the Intracoastal Waterway. It comprises eight blocks of 67 properties, with 43 considered historic.
That 64.2% ratio is a “solid historic district,” consultant Richard J. Heisenbottle said at a July 19 City Commission workshop. “The district meets the criteria for local and national designation.”
Heisenbottle also recommended studying the historic properties in a proposed Ocean Park Historic District on the barrier island — along Atlantic from Gleason Street to Ocean Boulevard and south to Miramar Drive.
A survey of properties there has not been completed. Money for the survey might be included in the city’s new budget.

Related: Picturing a better way to preserve history | Hand’s covered archways to disappear from Atlantic Avenue

Delray’s history tied to Atlantic Avenue
Heisenbottle’s Coral Gables-based firm is steeped in historic preservation projects and was hired by the city last year to study the Atlantic Avenue corridor from Interstate 95 to the ocean.
Mayor Shelly Petrolia has pushed for the downtown historic district since she was a second-term commissioner in 2015.
“The buildings on the Atlantic Avenue corridor are what makes Delray Beach so inviting,” she said at the workshop, referring to their low scale. “It’s an invitation to come and buy here.”
The proposed district includes a few buildings that are already part of either the Old School Square or Marina historic districts. Many of the homes in the Marina district, to the east of Federal Highway and south of Atlantic Avenue, were built between 1922 and 1943 in many architectural styles.
The Old School Square district, which straddles Swinton Avenue north and south of Atlantic Avenue, contains the 1913 Delray Elementary School that is now the Cornell Art Museum. The 1902 Sundy House, built by Delray Beach’s first mayor, John Shaw Sundy, also is in the district, to the south of Atlantic Avenue.

10829797097?profile=RESIZE_710xThe Colony Hotel and Cabana Club, designed by an Addison Mizner associate and built in 1926 at the corner of East Atlantic Avenue and Northeast Sixth Avenue in Delray Beach, is on the city’s Local Register of Historic Places. Tim Stepien/The Coastal Star

Local and national historic designations
Other than where the proposed district overlaps the existing Old School Square and Marina districts, only one building in the district — the Colony Hotel — is currently on the Local Register of Historic Places. The hotel, at 525 E. Atlantic Ave., was designed by an associate of Addison Mizner and built in 1926 in the Mediterranean Revival style. The current Atlantic Avenue bridge, built in 1952, also is listed.
In addition, Delray Beach has seven sites on the National Register of Historic Places, including the Marina and Old School Square districts.

Suggested Ocean Park barrier island district
Heisenbottle suggested the city consider creating the Ocean Park Historic District once more research is done.
He did not want to include the area in the overall Atlantic Avenue district because there are too many non-contributing buildings between the bridge and Gleason Street.
The Ocean Park district would include the Epic Surf Shop building at 1218 E. Atlantic Ave. Built in 1939, it was constructed in the Streamline Moderne style. Also of historic value is the Snappy Turtle building at 1100 E. Atlantic Ave., built in 1954 in the Masonry Vernacular style. Neither is listed on the city’s local register.
The proposed district’s survey cost might be included in the city’s new budget that started Oct. 1, said Gina Carter, city spokeswoman. Then, the commission’s planning priorities for development services will dictate when the survey will be done.

Atlantic Avenue district timeline and incentives
For the Atlantic Avenue district, “staff is anticipating taking the overlay to the city’s Historic Preservation Board by the end of 2022,” Anthea Gianniotes, the city’s development services director, said in an Aug. 26 email.
With the board’s expected approval, the proposed district would then go to the City Commission as an ordinance in early 2023. The second reading will include a public hearing.
But first, the city needs to hold a workshop on possible incentives available for the owners of historic properties to nudge them to consider adding their buildings to the Local Register of Historic Places and possibly the National Register of Historic Places.
The local register offers property tax abatements on the improvements made to historic buildings and the national offers federal tax abatements on restored properties that are not owner-occupied homes.
In Florida, buildings are considered historic after they reach 50 years of age and have a definable architectural style.
Petrolia directed staff at the workshop to see what else the city can do to persuade commercial property owners to designate their buildings. Other incentives could include transferring density and development rights outside of the historic district.
“Ask other cities what they have done when setting up their historic districts,” she said, “but be sensitive to the residents who live in the non-historic areas.”

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  • My mother and I rented what are now 3 storefronts on E Atlantic. My mother bought the business in 1964 and the store had previously  been in that location for a number of years(I heard that it had at one time been located a few storefronts east).  But when my mother bought it, it was where Sazio Express is now and included the 2 locations west, as well. The exterior is  Art Deco which I'm not sure passersby even notice. It would be a shame to allow this architectural history to be annihilated so of course, I totally support incorporating that area into the historic district.

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