By Mary Jane Fine
Right now, the project has something of the feel of a Mickey Rooney “Hey gang, let’s put on a show!” movie, all vision and enthusiasm and tons of raw energy. And project architect Bob Currie will be the first to tell you that it’s definitely a group undertaking; to date, it has involved the city of Delray Beach and its officials, the Beach Property Owners Association, the Community Redevelopment Agency, Northern Trust Bank, Ocean Properties and everyone involved in the planned talent-show fundraiser.
The only thing missing just now is the money to pull all this off.
The project? A brand new beach pavilion, down where Atlantic Avenue meets A1A and the ocean.
The idea is hardly a new one; it’s been envisioned and argued over and planned for, its need agreed upon, for years.
“It grew out of this frustration that this is our most important place in town, and it’s totally neglected,” Currie is saying, sitting on one of the half-dozen gray-painted benches that occupy the current pavilion. “Well, not totally neglected, but pretty neglected.”
He glances up and points out one of the flaws: “See, this is just a standard truss that you can buy in a store. And that” — he indicates the underside of the roof itself — “is just plywood.” The new pavilion, the one pictured in his hand-drawn rendering (“I’m a dinosaur,” he says, explaining his non-use of computer design-software) will employ “real dimensional lumber” and tongue-and-groove decking.
But such talk is putting the pavilion cart before the funding horse — Andy Katz, a vice president of the Beach Property Owners Association, says that “money seems to be guiding all city issues these days, for obvious reasons,” alluding to the economic woes that have kept city purse strings tight.
The BPOA itself has promised $10,000 toward the project, its estimated total cost about $240,000.
In hopes of closing that yawning gap, the city will host, on March 10 at the Crest Theater, “Delray’s Got Talent,” an event described in the press release sent by the BPOA’s Susan Hurlbert as “a red-carpet evening of music … headlining many of the best classical, jazz, country and rock ’n’ roll performers in the area.”
The $100 tickets are available through Old School Square.
The project specifics grew out of the Beach Area Master Plan charrette, emceed by Perry King Neubauer and held at the Marriott in November 2009:
The pavilion is Phase One of an overall overhaul of the beach area. Replacing benches and trashcans and beach showers with classier versions. Trading coin parking meters for, perhaps, the pay-by-numbered-space style. Designing dual paths for walkers and bike riders. Redoing signage in the area.
In August, the city accepted the plan.
The pavilion itself will be a replica of the original 1927 pavilion, which cost $720 to build and succumbed, not long afterward, to a hurricane. Its updated descendant will be built to withstand a Category 5 storm, a green-and-white-striped aluminum roof that will look like but outperform its canvas ancestor.
“Oh, but you know what the most important thing is?” the architect asks, before answering his own question. “People want to see the ocean. You want to come here and you want NOT to be in Kansas. You want to see the ocean.”
The man working to ensure that ocean view is working gratis. “It’s my town,” Currie says. “I’ve been here for 40 years, and this town’s been good to me.” And he to it. Among his many architectural projects: Caffe Luna Rosa, the original Marriott hotel, Berkshire by the Sea, the Waterway East offices, Veteran’s Park, Old School Square, the Sundy House restaurant, Delray’s City Hall.
The timeline for the beach-area renovation remains somewhat flexible, dependent on the tides of good fortune — of the spendable kind.
“We’re hoping in the one- to two-year horizon for the pavilion” — a kind of project kick-start, says Katz, “to set the tone for the rest of the work.”
And the determination is there that this show must go on. Its architect and all those involved can see it clearly:
the new made old again.
IF YOU GO
WHAT: “Delray’s Got Talent,” a limited-seating fundraiser for the new Beach Pavilion
WHEN: March 10
WHERE: Crest Theatre, Old School Square
HOW MUCH: Tickets are $100, available through Old School Square
FOR MORE INFO: Call 243-7922