By Tim O’Meilia
The Imperial House might not wash into the sea this hurricane season after all.
Construction of most of a new $500,000 seawall to protect the 58-unit cooperative from
unrelenting erosion was completed just as turtle-nesting season began March 1.
Actually, the building needed a five-day extension to get the work done.
“We got it in by the skin of our teeth,” said Bonnie Fischer, the new president of the Imperial House. “We accomplished a lot in a very short time.”
The new seawall won’t be tied in to the neighboring town of Lantana seawall until November, South Palm Beach Town Manager Rex Taylor said.
The six-story Imperial House wasn’t bailed out by the government but by the Mayfair House, its neighbor five buildings to the north.
The Mayfair House, which just completed its own $1.6 million seawall, allowed
Imperial House access to the beach for heavy equipment and materials through
the Mayfair parking lot for $35,000.
The town of Lantana wanted to charge more than $200,000 for beach access, mostly to
make up for the cost of redesigning its own seawall when Imperial House did not
install one in 2008.
Fischer erected a yellow-and-green thank-you sign in front of Imperial House. “Thank
you, Mayfair House, for being such good neighbors. Now we are safe because you
cared,” the sign reads.
The Imperial House was evacuated briefly in November when waves lapped against a
sidewalk surrounding the building. Emergency boulders and rubble was carted in
to prevent any collapse.
“We’re very grateful to Mayfair that they allowed us to use their property,” Fischer said. “I know it was disruptive to them.”
The construction slightly delayed work at the Mayfair House. Painting, landscaping and the pouring of concrete steps has yet to be completed.
“They were very gracious about it,” Mike Nevard, chairman of the Mayfair’s seawall committee, said of the Imperial House. “We were glad to help.”
A 33-foot section on the south side of the Imperial House is not finished,
although wood forms, rebar and Fiberglas are in place. Taylor said permitting
issues remain to be resolved with that section. The Lantana seawall will tie in
along the area.
“I have a level of comfort on the east side,” Fischer said, “but not along the south. The dune is still eroding.”