By Jane Smith

    The iPic movie theater moved closer to becoming a reality after a Delray Beach review board approved site plans in mid-January. Next stop for the mixed-use project will be the Feb. 22 meeting of the Planning & Zoning Board.
    In contrast with the luxury theater’s December appearance before the Site Plan Review and Appearance Board, where the project was tabled for various issues, the January meeting went smoothly. Only two residents spoke against the project’s impact on traffic in the downtown; at the December meeting eight residents pointed out traffic problems.
    The project sits on 1.6 acres, just south of Atlantic Avenue and between Southeast Fourth and Fifth avenues. The land is owned by the city’s Community Redevelopment Agency.
    During that four-week break, the iPic owners turned the nearby Martini property into a loading zone for deliveries and a staging area for emergency vehicles. At the request of the city’s Fire Department, iPic will restrict parking there to emergency vehicles. Four public spaces will be eliminated.
    The owners also addressed objections to the limited turning room in the garage by revising the layout to show enough maneuvering room for a vehicle that is 11.3 feet long. Board member Jim Knight pointed out that a Volkswagen Beetle is 13 feet long and an SUV averages about 16 feet. Even so, he ultimately voted for the project’s site plans because two board members who are architects said the revised garage was adequate.
    Architect Roger Cope said, “I’m not going to pick apart their garage, I think they’ve done the best possible job.” He called the design “iconic.”
    Board member Andrew Youngross voted against approvals for the site plans, saying, “The size of the project just doesn’t fit here and it’s not harmonious with the neighborhood.”
    Jose Aguilar, the board chairman and an architect, agreed: “I personally feel it’s too large.” He voted against the site plan for iPic but for the site plan for the Martini property.
    Nearby resident Sandy Zeller, who is the president of the Marina Historic District Homeowners Association, said iPic’s November traffic analysis showed 15 percent of its 1,770 new trips would come from the ocean side of Delray Beach. When traffic backs up along Atlantic Avenue, he said, many would cut through the Marina District. Because it’s a historic district with few sidewalks, curbs or street lights, he wanted the developer to pay to install street lights.
    “We can’t control how people get to our project,” said Bonnie Miskel, an attorney for iPic.
    But Cope sided with Zeller and proposed a solution that would require the developer to monitor the traffic in the Marina Historic District 12 months after receiving 90 percent of its permits.
    But that wasn’t concrete enough for Zeller. He wanted the developer to install the lighting as soon as  iPic opens, not wait until a traffic study is completed and decisions made on what traffic threshold would trigger action and who would pay for it.

    He said he talked with Miskel after the meeting and pointed out two streets that would be the travel path to iPic. He didn’t get a firm commitment but said she promised to look into it.

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