Lantana: Town scoops up waterfront land at bargain prices

By Mary Thurwachter

For the second time in seven months, Lantana plans to splurge on a waterfront land purchase on the west side of the Intracoastal Waterway just north of Ocean Avenue. The town will spend $965,000 for lots at 206, 210 and 302 N. Lake Drive. 

When last sold in 2005, the price for the land was $3.3 million. The current market value, according to the Palm Beach County Property Appraiser, is $1,223,074.

In December, the town bought Intracoastal property just steps away at 106-122 N. Lake Drive for $1.2 million. That property last sold in 2006 for $5.3 million.

Money for both buys came from the town’s reserves.

Most Town Council members were supportive of the move to scoop up waterfront properties at such bargain prices.  In December, Stewart said buying the land was an opportunity similar to the $4,000 Lion’s Club 1940s land purchase, which eventually gave the town a beach.

At the council’s June 11 meeting, Stewart said he thought the effort was a “great opportunity” that would preserve waterfront property for future generations, which is one of the town’s long-range goals. 

“We’re not walling in our town like other cities that gave up their waterfront,” Stewart said.

The town hasn’t said what its plans are for the land, although there has been some speculation about turning it into a park.

Not everyone supported the purchase. Council Member Tom Deringer, who voted against the land buy in December, also cast the lone “no” vote on the current investment.

“Why are we purchasing more property?” he asked. “We didn’t even have enough money last year to have fireworks. We haven’t had enough money to fix the parks we have and yet we’re buying more?”

Last year, the town dipped into its reserves to balance the budget and make some needed improvements, including road and drainage repairs and some landscaping.

Since parking for restaurants and shops on Ocean Avenue is at a premium, some have suggested the newly acquired properties be turned into a parking lot.

There will already be some relief to Ocean Avenue parking woes since the council gave a thumbs-up to a rezoning request from Wayne Cordero at The Old Key Lime House to build a parking lot next door at 106 S. Lake Drive.

A house owned by Cordero will be torn down to make room for the parking lot.       

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