By Mary Thurwachter

    As developers prepare to build Water Tower Commons, a 72-acre retail and residential project on the site of the former A.G. Holley tuberculosis hospital east of Interstate 95 on Lantana Road, hundreds of trees need to be moved or replaced.
    “According to the tree survey performed by the applicant, the site has 451 total trees of various types,” said Dave Thatcher, Lantana’s development services director.  “Of those, 137, about 30 percent, are considered protected. The remaining 70 percent are not protected and can be removed.”
    Thatcher said property is being cleared and a fence will be placed around the perimeter.
    “The developer (Lantana Development LLC) will relocate 50 protected oaks from their original location to another spot on the property,” he said. The remaining 87 protected trees, with an average diameter of 15.7 inches, will be replaced with 512 new 4-inch-thick trees.
    Thatcher said there was a lot of misinformation floating around about what was going to happen to trees at the site. Even if the new trees aren’t as big as some taken down, there will be more trees in the end. And all the melaleucas, an invasive species, will be gone.
    Water Tower Commons is the biggest project ever in Lantana, Thatcher said. The site is about 4 percent of the town’s total land.
    The development is expected to create 700 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, a partnership between Southeast Legacy, headed by Kenco Communities’ Endelson, and Wexford Capital.
    Plans show more than 208,000 square feet of retail space, including a grocery store, pharmacy, restaurants, bank and fitness center. 
    Office space will be available, too, and plans call for more than 1,000 residential units on the north side of the property.

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