The Coastal Star

Delray Beach: Neighbors challenge Atlantic Crossing developers in court

By Tim Pallesen
A citizens group has sued  Delray Beach, saying its density approval for Atlantic Crossing violates the vision for Delray to always be “a village by the sea.”
    City commissioners approved 40 housing units per acre for the East Atlantic Avenue project formerly known as Atlantic Plaza II on Dec. 4. The developer still needs site plan approval before construction can begin.
    The lawsuit claims the Dec. 4 vote was inconsistent with the city’s comprehensive plan that calls the central business district and surrounding neighborhoods the core of a charming village to be preserved.
    “We hope the developer and the city will work with us to design a project that preserves the charm of Delray Beach as a village by the sea and keeps the small-town feeling,” said Ralf Brookes, the attorney hired by the citizens group Save Delray Beach to file the lawsuit.
    Neighbors on both sides of the Atlantic Avenue Bridge fear the multi-use project will cause traffic congestion. Opponents met with Atlantic Crossing project manager Don DeVere on Dec. 17 to discuss possible revisions to the project. But the developer ended informal talks when Save Delray Beach filed its lawsuit on Jan. 2.
    “We think it’s unfortunate that the lawsuit was filed,” developer spokesman Bill Morris said.
    But attorneys have continued to work toward a possible settlement of the lawsuit. Brookes said Atlantic Crossing requested design drawings by three local architects working with neighbors. Those drawings were given to the developer on Jan. 22, he said. “We are trying to incorporate as many of their ideas and suggestions as possible,” Morris said.
    Morris said developer architects will address the concern that delivery trucks to restaurants and stores would enter the multi-use project from East Atlantic Avenue to reach loading docks.
    “We hope we can resolve this lawsuit,” Morris said.
    Save Delray Beach organizer John Papaloizos said the lawsuit was filed on Jan. 2 to comply with a court deadline 30 days after the City Commission vote on Dec. 4.
    “The lawsuit is a way to get our voices heard,” Papaloizos said. “We hope we can settle with developer.”
    The goal is for the developer and opponents to agree on a design before the Atlantic Crossing project goes before the City Commission for site plan approval.
    If approved, the $200 million project would have 356 apartments, 79,000 square feet of office space and 80,000 square feet of restaurants and retail shops.                              

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