By Jane Smith
When Delray Beach residents saw royal palms lying on the side of East Atlantic Avenue, they took to social media to bemoan the loss of the majestic palms.
“Just terrible,” said a Facebook poster on Aug. 22. Several others thought the palms died from lethal bronzing. Others said the removal was “horrible.”
But most of the palms still had their root balls.
Turns out the royal palms were moved to new locations in the city. Ten were replanted in Veterans Park and two on the grounds of the Old School Square campus.
The moving and replanting was done by Bermuda Landscaping, paid for by the developer of Atlantic Crossing, a 9.2-acre project at the northeast corner of North Federal Highway and East Atlantic Avenue. The palms were moved to make way for new underground wastewater lines, wrote Don DeVere, vice president of Edwards Cos., the Atlantic Crossing developer. His comments came via email from the project’s publicist, Andrea Knibbs.
“The lines are being relocated from the interior of the eastern block to run parallel along Atlantic Avenue, then north along the boundary with Veterans Park,” DeVere wrote.
Palm Trail resident Gayle Clark, who is also a residential Realtor, said the noise is just “horrible. It goes 24/7 from the pump, the cutting of trees and paving over everything.”
A nature lover, she was sad to see two, 40-foot-tall palms lying on their side without their root balls. “They were the most majestic,” she said.
Pumping will be ongoing
Another nearby resident, George Walden, said, “Here’s what I don’t understand: If you want to maintain the beauty and integrity of Delray Beach, who would build an underground garage at the water table and so close to the Intracoastal and think it’s going to work?”
DeVere has said that after the garage is finished it will still need pumps and backup generators to use when the power goes out.
Atlantic Crossing has dewatering permits from the South Florida Water Management District and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection.
The Water District permit allows the contractor to dewater 12 feet below grade at the rate of 1.5 million gallons a day, or more than two Olympic-size swimming pools a day. That permit expires March 31, 2021. The project had not exceeded its sediment limits, called nephelometric turbidity units, in the past six weeks through mid-August. Its dewatering permit allows a maximum reading of 29 NTUs above the turbidity level of the Intracoastal.
Turbidity measures how clear the water is.
John Miller, a former chair of the city’s Historic Preservation Board and a secretary of the Delray Beach Historical Society, said the filtered water flowing into the Intracoastal at the eastern end of Northeast First Street looks dirty.
As a boater, he’s concerned that the sediment will build up on the western side of the Intracoastal and have to be dredged.
DeVere wrote, “We’ve worked through the site preparation and excavation for the first section of the western garage and will begin the concrete form work and underground utility work within the first couple of weeks of September.”
He projected that the groundbreaking for the first retail/office building at the northeast corner of Federal and Atlantic will take place by the end of 2019. The midblock of Federal will see the start of the luxury apartments by mid-2020.
“The western block is fully financed with a $110 million construction loan and a $45 million preferred equity investment,” DeVere wrote. In January, Fifth Third Bank of Columbus, Ohio, lent the construction money. Pearlmark Real Estate Partners of Chicago made the recent investment.
The massive, mixed-use project will have 261 apartment, 91,000 square feet of office and retail space, 444 parking spaces and 82 condos.