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Plaza and Royal Poinciana Way plans off table; Worth Avenue makeover begins

Posted On: 05-23-2010

By David Rogers

Updated: 7:42 p.m. Saturday, May 22, 2010

Posted: 5:18 p.m. Saturday, May 22, 2010

Plaza managers withdraw redevelopment plan

Sterling Palm Beach’s long-discussed plan to redevelop the Royal Poinciana Plaza came to a halt — perhaps temporarily — in March when a lawyer for the plaza managers withdrew the application.

In addition to adding mid-rise condominiums to the 12-acre, landmarked site, Sterling’s plans called for removing the Gucci addition from the center of the two John Volk-designed commercial buildings, adding underground parking, demolishing all but the eastern facade of the Volk-designed Royal Poinciana Playhouse, removing the Slat House, greatly increasing the green space and constructing a new, multipurpose theater.

The withdrawal came after a Preservation Foundation of Palm Beach-commissioned survey in early February indicated 63.8 percent of the 509 respondents opposed condominiums at the plaza (47.5 percent said they were “strongly against” such development and 16.3 percent said they were “somewhat against” it).

The Palm Beach Theater Guild hailed the survey. It plans to place an amendment on the November ballot that would give town voters the power to approve or deny any proposals to de-designate town landmarks that have public access.


Worth Avenue going from ‘tattered’ 
to tailored

A bright spot for the season was the April 5 start of a $15.8 million face-lift for Worth Avenue.

The renovation, designed by Bridges, Marsh and Associates and paid for by Worth area property owners, involves widening sidewalks, burying utility lines in the “sight line” of the district, constructing a piazza on Hibiscus Avenue, creating a passive park with a “living wall” in the triangle west of Saks Fifth Avenue, installing a monumental clock tower at the street’s east end and more.

When he introduced the project early this season, architect Mark Marsh said the famed retail district needed to be refreshed.

“It’s like a pretty girl in a tattered dress,” Marsh said.

The street’s wardrobe change is expected to be complete by mid-November.


Council denies Royal Poinciana Way overlay

For three years, the Testa family had sought the easing of parking space requirements and residential density on Royal Poinciana Way so it could construct four residential/commercial buildings and a new, smaller restaurant where its current restaurant and the adjacent, shuttered gas station now sit.

In April, the Town Council voted to deny a recommendation from town staff and the Planning and Zoning Commission to establish a zoning overlay for the Royal Poinciana Way business district. The overlay would have decreased parking space requirements by 40 percent, permitted taller buildings than currently allowed and increased allowable lot coverage by 10 percent, to 80 percent.

Tom Testa argued two years earlier that the current codes are too restrictive and noted that the street — which has a number of empty storefronts — has long needed a boost.

Susan Markin, a former councilwoman, disagreed.

“It will look like CityPlace, which is not what we want,” Markin said in April, referring to the potential impact of an overlay. “We don’t want more condos. We don’t want taller buildings with apartments over them, now or ever.”

Source: David Rogers, May 23, 2010, Palm Beach Daily News



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