10746044276?profile=RESIZE_710xBy Mary Thurwachter

Is a fishing pier in the future for Lantana’s public beach?
Dana Little thinks that’s a capital idea, one he came up with himself, he told the Town Council during its July 25 meeting.
Little is the urban design director for the Treasure Coast Regional Planning Council, a public agency the town is paying $169,800 to put together a master plan. He and his team have been working with experts on marketing, real estate, and architectural design, as well as town staff and about 60 residents who took part in a charrette on July 9. Ideas for Lantana’s future have been culled from all of them.
“When you think about activating your waterfront, what about a pier?” Little asked. “It seems kind of far-fetched. Piers have been around forever. Nobody builds piers anymore, you think. In fact, the Juno pier was built in 1999, so that’s in very recent memory. The pier could become a destination for people for fishing or just hanging out, or dining.”
For the beach, which Little called “an enormous, hugely important and sacred asset,” ideas included adding a wedding pavilion or a building with a combination of ground floor sundries and upstairs meeting space for expanded dining, a cabana area, spaces for kayak and paddleboard rentals, and a pier.
“The idea here is to obviously be respectful of the dune itself — not overbuild it — and expand upon what’s already there,” Little said. “You’ve got the opportunity for expanded seating, whether it’s for the Dune Deck or another type of dining venture beyond what you have out there today, which is the empty pavilion. We think you can add to the beach and be very sensitive about it.”

Too much retail?
Real estate analysts hired by the planning council reported that the town has a strong housing market with the potential for 350 new housing units, some of which have been allocated at Water Tower Commons and the proposed Kmart site.
On the other hand, Little said, “you’ve got very, very limited office potential, a little bit more room for industrial and a market potential for up to 220 hotel rooms.”
What was shocking, Little said, was the revelation that Lantana is significantly over-retailed.
“You have 91 to 95 square feet of retail in this town for every man, woman and child,” he said. “The national average is 24 square feet. You’ve also got very little vacancy, 4-5% vacancy. So, there’s not a lot of retail growth potential.”
This is important to know, Little said, “because we don’t want you to go forth and build a lot of retail when you can’t support it.”
During his progress report before a chamber filled to capacity with council members and other residents, Little — armed with slides showing artist’s renderings and market analysis — presented some of what the visionaries had come up with.
Besides the beach, ideas for other parts of the town included:
• Adding even more housing to Water Tower Commons, where developers have struggled to attract retail tenants.
• Keeping one or two historical buildings on Ocean Avenue and redeveloping the other parcels with three-story buildings and significant parking in the rear.
• Redoing on-street parking with shade trees and less asphalt on and around Ocean Avenue — and better managing available parking to avoid need for a garage.
• Reconfiguring the municipal campus on Greynolds Circle with plans for a new town hall and more green space.
• Addressing the redevelopment of the Kmart shopping area in phases and lining the streets with buildings that eventually could be mixed-use. The idea is to make the area an extension of the town, not walling off a piece of it as a current proposal does, Little said.
Little will be back in several months with a draft of the master plan.
“You’re not obligated to do anything with it, but by adopting a plan you send a message to the development community, the investors that you don’t even know about, and your residents as well, that we have a game plan and we’re going to start moving forward with this and we’re going to start chipping away piece by piece.”

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