By Mary Thurwachter

    Developers for Water Tower Commons received approval from the Lantana Town Council for several changes to the commercial plan for the 72-acre retail and residential project at the old A.G. Holley State Hospital site. But they’ll need to add something new to their proposal, as well — art.
    The call for public art came from Mayor Dave Stewart, who said at the Sept. 12 town meeting that he had recently “been educated on the benefits of art in public places.” He said he learned that developments with public art are more sustainable and attract good businesses and good residents.
    “I don’t want Norman Rockwell and stuff that costs a million, but I’d sure feel more comfortable having public art around there,” he said.
    Stewart’s suggestion was well received, although council member Lynn Moorhouse wondered if public art would translate to anything resembling The Siren, that well-endowed mermaid statue once commissioned as a work of art for Wellington.
    Moorhouse’s remark drew laughs. So did the tongue-in-cheek suggestion from Dave Thatcher, the town’s development services director, that a large statue of Mayor Stewart be added to the mix.
    The Water Tower Commons development team will need to come up with a proposal on art, and Town Manager Deborah Manzo was directed to work with the team. She was charged with the final thumbs up or down on public art on the site.
    The outline of changes for the commercial plan was presented by Sandra J. Megrue, of Urban Design Kilday Studios, who works for Lantana Development, a partnership between Southeast Legacy, headed by Kenco Communities’ Ken Endelson, and Wexford Capital, which owns the land just east of I-95 off Lantana Road.
    Requested changes included reducing the commercial area from 36.5 acres to 32.76 acres, reducing the commercial square footage from 270,111 to 231,150 and adding a Water Tower Park and a traffic circle.
    Reducing the commercial area was necessary in part to meet green space requirements and add parking spots, developers said.
    Another plan change will mean adding a sign or two on the 127-foot water tower that will read “Water Tower Commons.” A public park will be fashioned around the water tower. Planners had second thoughts about a water feature for the project’s main street in their original drawings. They want to replace it with landscaping to give it less of a country club entrance vibe.
    Stewart told developers he wants to see a top-scale development and would be looking at this first phase to see evidence of that. “Please don’t stub your toe because you might fall,” Stewart warned.
    Water Tower Commons is expected to create 700 new, permanent jobs and generate $13 million in new tax revenue for Lantana during the next 20 years. The commercial phase is expected to last about 18 months, followed by the residential phase.
    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.

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