12127796083?profile=RESIZE_710xA nine-block stretch of Atlantic Avenue, the center of Delray Beach’s cultural, dining and entertainment hub, should become the city’s sixth historic district, the city’s Planning and Zoning Board voted 3-1 following a public hearing June 19.

The recommendation will go before the City Commission sometime in August for a final determination.

If approved, it would become the first historic district since the city approved the initial five districts back in the 1980s and 1990s.

Chairman Chris Davey and board members Joy Howell and Allen Zeller voted in favor. Board member Julen Blankenship was opposed. Three members — Christina Morrison, Christopher Brown and Gregory Snyder — were absent. Morrison has announced a bid for the City Commission in March.

Two other city panels, the Downtown Development Authority and the Historic Preservation Board, have weighed in on the issue. The DDA voted 3-2 against a district on June 12 and the HPB voted 7-0 in favor of a district on June 7.

Arguments for and against creating a district ran along the same lines at each meeting. At the HPB meeting, attorneys for several of the property owners along the avenue objected to the proposed district, citing government control of private property rights and other restrictive concerns.

City staff disputed those concerns and preservationists contended the district designation enhances property values and would protect the scale and the feeling of a city that calls itself the “Village by the Sea.”

Prominent Coral Gables architect Richard Heisenbottle was commissioned by the city to study the viability of potential historic districts from Interstate 95 to State Road A1A.

Heisenbottle determined there were not sufficient numbers of historic structures between I-95 and Swinton to qualify for designation.

East of the Intracoastal Waterway, he also found few buildings of historic value on Atlantic.

However, Heisenbottle identified a roughly four-square-block area on the south side of Atlantic that appeared to have the makings of a potential historic district, which was dubbed the Ocean Park district and contained several historic buildings.

The district, which would require more study by the city to see if it would qualify, is roughly bounded by A1A on the east and Gleason Street on the west, from Atlantic Avenue to just south of Miramar Drive.

As for downtown Atlantic, his research was clear, showing that more than 60% of the buildings between Swinton and the bridge were historic. To create a district, 51% of the structures need to be considered historic.

Several of the buildings along the avenue are around 100 years old.

If approved by the City Commission, the proposed Atlantic Avenue Historic District would stretch from Swinton Avenue to the east side of the Intracoastal Waterway bridge and a block or so north or south of the avenue.

— Staff report

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