By Jane Smith
The Atlantic Crossing project continues to plod through the Delray Beach approval process.
The 9.2-acre development, slated for the northeast corner of North Federal Highway and East Atlantic Avenue, already has its site plan approved but it is awaiting certification.
The latest snag concerns the type of access road off Federal Highway into the development. Should it be a two-way road, similar to Atlantic Court, which no longer appears on its site plan? Or should the entry lane from Federal Highway go directly into the underground garage?
City commissioners agreed in June that they are not traffic engineers and hired Simmons & White from West Palm Beach to review the two options at a cost not to exceed $12,500. Rob Rennebaum, the firm’s president, said to the commission in early July, “The developer offered up the road options to make the project better.”
He reminded commissioners that the project sits in a traffic concurrency exemption area — meaning it is not subject to traffic studies and any resulting required road improvements outside the development itself. “The policies were developed to promote this kind of development in the downtown core,” he said.
His firm determined the second option of the one-way road was preferable. The first option would lead to “internal conflicts in the central core,” he said.
But after repeated questions from Mayor Cary Glickstein, Rennebaum said the one-way road was “just slightly better when considering all of the factors, including neighborhood concerns.”
His firm’s report called the two-way surface road a “back alleyway.” At the meeting, he said, “Delray Beach has a clear grid system of streets without mid-block connections anywhere. During the public comments, people said they want it to be more of a street, but it’s not. It’s a kind of a mid-block alley.”
At the June 16 special meeting when the east-west road was discussed, the developer’s planner said, “If you have to create a road that will support that kind of weight, the only thing you can do is make the parking garage deeper. Part of the flaw in the previous plan with Atlantic Court was that the parking garage was well below the water table, which opened another logistical issue of how you build it.”
During the public comment period at the July 7 meeting, a letter from Bruce Leiner, president of nearby Harbour House condos, was read into the record. His residents want a fully functioning east-west road able to handle the weight of commercial vehicles. “Anything less is not really a road,” Leiner wrote. He added his association is considering intervening on the city side in a lawsuit filed by the developers against the city.
Also on July 7, City Attorney Noel Pfeffer revealed the city was not properly served with that lawsuit, but he expected proper service by the end of the week. The city was served July 9 and it has 40 days to respond.
In late July, Pfeffer explained that he has been staying in touch via the telephone with the Atlantic Crossing team and at the same time is working on a response to the developer’s lawuit, which he hopes to file in mid-August. The response is due Aug. 18.
Atlantic Crossing, a joint venture by area resident Carl DeSantis and the Edwards Companies of Ohio, will have 80,000 square feet of restaurants and shops along with 79,000 square feet of office space and 356 luxury condos and apartments when finished. The $200 million project received site plan approval in January 2014.
In other actions on July 7, the commission voted 3-0 to:
• Rescind and rebid the contract for the beach gazebos after Republic Construction discovered a bid error and wanted to pass.
• Table amending the historic structure relocation ordinance until Aug. 18, and
• Approve the amended historic structure demolition ordinance.
Commissioners Shelly Petrolia and Jordana Jarjura did not attend the meeting.