By Jane Smith
The modified site plan for the Atlantic Crossing mixed-use development downtown was turned down in late January by a Delray Beach board.
Senior city planner Scott Pape told the Site Plan Review and Appearance Board that his department had hired yet another traffic consultant from outside the county to review the site plan modification. The modified plan called for either a one-way road into the garage or a two-way surface road for internal traffic.
“They concluded that the Jan. 21, 2014, approved plan was the optimal design,” he said. The one-way and two-way drives into the garage created too much internal conflict along NE Seventh Avenue without benefiting the traffic flow inside the project, Pape told board members. The alternate routes were designed last summer at the behest of the City Commission.
The city’s planning department had recommended denial. The board went along with that recommendation by a 5-1 vote. Board member Jim Chard, who voted no, proposed a complicated motion that would have allowed the project to move forward.
The development already had its site plan approved in 2014. That plan shows a two-way road into the garage.
The developers’ attorney, Brian Seymour of the Gunster, Yoakley & Stewart law firm, agreed that the two-way access road proposed last summer was dangerous. “We are not going to create anything dangerous,” he told the board members.
Bruce Leiner, president of the nearby Harbour House Homeowners Association, questioned whether the Atlantic Crossing developers have title to all the land they need to build their project. At issue, he said, is the ownership of two alleys.
“No title certificate was filed as of today,” he said on Jan. 27.
Most of the residents who spoke at the meeting were concerned about traffic. Retailer Bruce Gimmy, who owns the Trouser Shop on East Atlantic, called the area where Atlantic Crossing sits “a dead zone to the bridge.” He hoped it could move forward.
Karen Granger, of the Greater Delray Beach Chamber of Commerce, said she was “looking for a way to move this project forward because of the jobs and tax dollars it would bring.”
Board member Jim Knight said at the end of the meeting, “We spent all this time when the best solution was already out there.”
The proposed $200 million Atlantic Crossing sits stalled on 9.2 acres at the northeast corner of Federal Highway and East Atlantic Avenue in the city’s downtown. The project, developed by a partnership between Ohio-based Edwards Companies and Ocean Ridge resident Carl DeSantis, will contain 343 luxury condos and apartments plus 39,394 square feet of restaurants, 37,642 square feet of shops and 83,462 square feet of office space.
The developers sued the city in June, claiming the city has not issued a site-plan certification that was approved in November 2013 and affirmed by a previous City Commission in January 2014.
In the fall, the lawsuit was moved to federal court. The developers recently filed their third amended complaint and the judge put the case on hold until March 1 to allow the project time to go through the city’s approval process.
“We understand SPRAB’s action, which is consistent with the opinion of every traffic engineer who has reviewed access to and from the site, and we look forward to the City Commission review of this decision,” said Don DeVere, vice president of Edwards Companies.
As to the lawsuit, he said: “We hope the City Commission will work with us to reach an amicable settlement so we can finally get underway.”