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Palm Beach: Obstacles remain for Sant Ambroeus to open during day

Posted On: 03-07-2016

 By Andres David Lopez

Daily News Staff Writer

A proposed restaurant for Royal Poinciana Plaza is stirring up talk about parking, or a lack of it.

Town officials have outlined several options for Sant Ambroeus and its plan to open during the day. The matter is on the agenda for Wednesday’s Town Council meeting.

As of now, adding the restaurant and allowing it to open for breakfast and lunch — coupled with the possibility that the Royal Poinciana Playhouse will reopen — would produce a shortage of parking spaces, according to the Planning, Zoning and Building Department.

According to the restaurant’s special exemption application, the proposed 5,973-square-foot, 120-seat restaurant would not be open for lunch on days the Royal Poinciana Playhouse has a matinee.

Matinees are not currently authorized on weekdays, but the town’s 1979 agreement with the plaza allows the theater to be open for lectures and other special events and it places no restrictions on hours or days. And though the theater is not currently open, under the agreement all land uses must be included for purposes of calculating overall off-street parking requirements.

Because the 172 parking spaces required to operate the theater can’t be considered available for other plaza tenants, Planning and Zoning’s recommendation states, adding Sant Ambroeus to the plaza and allowing it to open for breakfast and lunch produces a daytime shortage of 101 spaces.

“An overall parking shortage exists, therefore triggering the necessity for an alternative solution in order to legally authorize the proposed use,” Planning and Zoning says in its paperwork.

One option, outlined in the recommendation, is to amend the 1979 agreement. This has been done over the years no less than 20 times.

“Perhaps another amendment could be crafted that would disallow daytime usage of the theater, reduce the number of seats in the theater (thus also reducing the parking requirement,) or otherwise be amended to remove the present obstacle to a new restaurant,” the recommendation states.

A second option is for Sant Ambroeus to apply for an off-street parking variance.

Reassigning “grandfathered” parking spaces from one business to another in the plaza, is the third option. An example, according to the recommendation, might be reassigning a portion of the 74 parking spaces for the Royal Poinciana Playhouse Supper Club to Sant Ambroeus.

Because the options presented by town officials require further study and paperwork, it is not likely the matter will be resolved at Wednesday’s Town Council meeting, said John Page, director of Planning, Building and Zoning.

“Council members may voice their opinion about which options they might prefer,” Page said. “Our town attorney will be there to help sort out through any legal questions.”

Letters of support

Members of the Fanjul family, which controls the world’s largest sugar refining operation, were represented among more than 25 people who sent letters and emails to the town in support of Sant Ambroeus.

Palm Beach residents José “Pepe” Fanjul Sr. and his wife, Emilia, have an apartment near a Sant Ambroeus location in Manhattan, according to an email sent by the Fanjuls, and they can vouch for the restaurant’s quality of food and service.

The couple’s daughter-in-law, Lourdes Fanjul, also sent an email to Town Manager Tom Bradford.

“It is very exciting that they have selected Palm Beach to open their only restaurant outside of New York,” Lourdes Fanjul wrote. “My family and I are certain many of the town’s residents would greatly enjoy having Sant Ambroeus in the neighborhood.”

 

 

Source: Andres David Lopez, March 7, 2016, Palm Beach Daily News

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