By Jane Smith
The city and the Atlantic Crossing developer have spent the past month trading settlement offers. Before the April 4 Delray Beach City Commission meeting, commissioners will meet in a closed-door session with their attorneys and administrators to discuss the latest offer from the Ohio-based Edwards Cos.
In June 2015, Edwards and its partner sued the city, charging it stalled the 9.2-acre, mixed-use project in downtown Delray Beach. The developer sought millions in damages.
Edwards agrees to the city’s latest offer overall, but it wants to fine-tune the details, Dean Kissos, chief operating officer, said in mid-March. The details include who is responsible for paying for traffic calming efforts in the Marina Historic District.
“It’s important to specify how each party will satisfy its obligations when it comes to executing the project’s conditions of approval,” Kissos wrote in an email, provided by the project’s publicist.
“We’re ready to move forward once the city signs the addendum. With the final agreement in place, we can end the still-pending lawsuit, provided there is no third-party legal challenge, which would void the settlement.”
On March 1, the Delray Beach City Commission, which at the time had four commissioners, unanimously agreed to counter the developer’s settlement offer with its own set of conditions. The Atlantic Crossing developer would:
• Create a two-way road into the project from Federal Highway.
• Move the underground garage entrance into the project’s interior.
• Contribute $175,000 to a shuttle bus prior to the issuing of a certificate of occupancy for the first vertical, above-ground building.
• Pay for the design, permit and construction costs of a mast arm traffic signal at the intersection of Northeast First Street and northbound Federal Highway before receiving the first site development permit.
• Temporarily close Northeast Seventh Avenue during construction. One year after the last building is finished, the city will evaluate traffic in the area and decide whether to keep the entrance closed permanently, partially closed or left open with traffic calming devices paid for by the developer.
• Pay for traffic calming in the Marina Historic District, according to city standards and before receiving a certificate of occupancy for any vertical, above-ground building.
• Agree to keep construction traffic and parking out of the Marina Historic District.
At one time, a contribution of at least $500,000 to renovate Veterans Park was included in the settlement discussions. The park sits between the project and the Intracoastal Waterway.
But the contribution disappeared about the same time the city’s Community Redevelopment Agency switched zones for its economic stimulus grant.
Edwards had applied in August 2014 for a $2.1 million grant when the CRA had a different executive director. The stimulus program ended in September 2015, followed by a January 2016 vote by the CRA board members to provide subsidies only to projects west of Swinton Avenue. Atlantic Crossing sits east of Swinton in the central business district.
The current CRA executive director wrote to Edwards in February 2016 to let it know about the changes.
Despite that vote, the iPic theater complex, part of the central business district, recently received a $400,000 CRA subsidy, payable over 10 years.
If commissioners approve the revised settlement in the closed-door session, they still will have to accept the terms at a public meeting.
Then, Edwards would take its revised site plan through two city boards — Site Plan Review and Appearance and the Planning and Zoning — before returning to the City Commission.
When complete, Atlantic Crossing will have 82 luxury condos, 261 apartments, 83,462 square feet of office space, 39,394 square feet of restaurants and 37,642 square feet of shops at the northeast corner of Federal Highway and Atlantic Avenue.
By Jane Smith