By Tim Pallesen
The race has begun between Delray Beach and Boca Raton to decide which city opens a Trader Joe’s first.
The California-based specialty grocer announced last month that it will open a store on South Federal Highway in Boca Raton sometime next year.
Delray Beach commissioners on July 9 gave zoning approval for a shopping center on Federal Highway at Linton Boulevard where a Trader Joe’s might open in the fall of next year.
Delray Beach residents were worried whether they had lost their Trader Joe’s when the company announced its Boca Raton location first.
“I’m concerned whether Trader Joe’s is coming,” Delray Commissioner Angeleta Gray asked the developer’s attorney at the July 9 hearing.
“There is a certain gourmet grocer that doesn’t want to be named, but you just named them,” attorney Jeffrey Lynne replied.
Lynne assured Delray commissioners that Trader Joe’s plans to open in both cities next year. The company declined to comment.
“It’s never been a situation of either Delray or Boca,” Lynne said. “A lot of people had their ego and pride hurt that Delray Beach was not announced first.”
The Boca Raton location at 855 S. Federal Highway received quick zoning approval largely because no nearby homeowners objected.
But the Delray Beach location was delayed for 18 months after a dozen homeowners in the adjacent Tropic Isle neighborhood objected.
Delray commissioners finally gave zoning and site plan approval for the Delray Place shopping center after concessions satisfied all the Tropic Isle homeowners except Nancy Schnabel, whose home will have the center on two sides.
“My home will have the look and feel of a prison,” Schnabel told commissioners.
“I would hate to be those people,” said Commissioner Shelly Petrolia, who cast the lone vote against Delray Place.
Other speakers at the July 9 hearing applauded the $30 million Delray Place as a catalyst for redevelopment along South Federal Highway.
Delray Beach Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Karen Granger called it “an elegant and attractive shopping destination.”
“This is a fabulous opportunity for South Federal to get a gateway,” Tropic Isle homeowners President Kelli Freeman said.
“This is huge for our entire city,” Commissioner Adam Frankel said.
“This area of Federal Highway desperately needs a catalyst,” Mayor Cary Glickstein agreed. “We need to get something going in that part of the city.”