By Mary Thurwachter
Months of delays and discussion between the town and the developer resulted Dec. 14 in site plan approval from the Lantana Town Council for Water Tower Commons. The 72-acre retail and residential project will be built on the site of the state-owned A.G. Holley tuberculosis hospital east of Interstate 95 on Lantana Road.
It was a historic event for the town, said Mayor Dave Stewart, who has been working for a decade to get the state to sell the property so it could be developed and on the tax rolls.
It is also the biggest project Lantana has ever seen, said Dave Thatcher, the town’s development services director. The site represents about 4 percent of the total land in Lantana.
The development is expected to create 700 new, permanent jobs and generate $13 million in new tax revenue for Lantana during the next 20 years, according to Ken Endelson, vice president of Lantana Development LLC, a partnership between Southeast Legacy, headed by Kenco Communities’ Endelson and Wexford Capital.
Plans include more than 208,000 square feet of retail space, including a grocery store, pharmacy, restaurants, bank and fitness center. Tenants have yet to be revealed.
Office space will be available, too, and future plans call for more than 1,000 residential units on the north side of the property.
The commercial phase will take about 18 months. After that, the residential phase will begin and a site plan for that should reach the town in about six months.
An old water tower at the center of the site will become the signature for the center after it has been renovated and equipped with lighting to highlight the historic marker at night.
Some residents quibbled about using the 127-foot, nonfunctioning water tower as the center’s namesake.
“It’s preposterous to call it iconic,” said resident A.C. Brooks. “It’s a reminder of all the people who died horrible deaths there. The water tower should be in the bottom of the ocean as an artificial reef.”
But the developers said the tower represents history and is an important focal point for the center.
The developer agreed to all the town’s conditions. A proposal to cap building heights in the residential section at 75 feet was reduced to 55 feet.
Council member Tom Deringer said he was pleased with how things worked out.
“They were responsive to everything we said,” Deringer said after the meeting. “At first they wanted a gas station and we didn’t want that and they removed it. They wanted the fitness center off Eighth Street and we wanted residential only there, so they moved it.”
Palm Beach County officials said the development had met traffic performance standards, with some conditions.
Developers will add a traffic signal at the entrance of the property and will be changing the westbound right-turn lane on Lantana Road between the existing shopping center and Interstate 95 to a shared through-right lane.
A.G. Holley hospital was built in the early 1950s on state-owned land and sold in 2014 for $15.6 million to Lantana Development.
By Mary Thurwachter