New Push to Redevelop Prime Land on West Atlantic Avenue
By Leon Fooksman
Over the years, clusters of prime real estate along Delray Beach’s West Atlantic Avenue have stood undeveloped. Builders have proposed plans for shops, offices and housing units, but for various reasons, those projects never materialized.
Now, a major landowner, the Delray Beach Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA), believes the timing is right for a substantial redevelopment project that will create jobs and businesses along the corridor between Interstate 95 and Swinton Avenue.
The CRA is set to issue a request for proposals (RFP) for developing nearly eight acres of assembled properties on the south side of West Atlantic Avenue between SW 10th and Sixth avenues. The RFP calls for the single-phase construction of new commercial, residential and office complexes.
“These are great properties,” said Elizabeth Butler, the CRA’s marketing and grants coordinator. “They are primed for redevelopment as we come out of this recession.”
The CRA is focusing on these sites as the agency and the City have renewed their emphasis on redevelopment in the West Atlantic Avenue community, Butler said.
A new economic development director was recently hired to attract new companies to the area.
Also, new economic incentives, including the Job Creation Bonus and the Relocation Development Incentive programs, were initiated to offer cash to companies that bring new jobs to the CRA district. These and other enticements are expected to generate interest from across the region.
As an additional move to improve the area, the CRA is moving forward on designs for an attractive gateway feature on West Atlantic Avenue to welcome visitors into the downtown district.
In the meantime, city officials are learning from residents and business owners what types of new businesses are best suited for the West Atlantic Avenue community. An updated study of commercial clusters along West Atlantic Avenue has identified demand for uses such as a moderately priced hotel, a jazz or comedy club, a well-known restaurant, a bank, and a pharmacy, Butler said.
“We’re taking the community’s pulse to see what’s needed, and we have the economic incentives to help make it happen,” Butler said. “Our long-term goal has been to make development along Atlantic Avenue seamless from I-95 to the ocean.”
For the RFP, the CRA has been steadily assembling the roughly two dozen parcels of land along West Atlantic Avenue as they became available over the past decade. Many of these properties consisted of dilapidated buildings, which the agency demolished to reduce the blight that was burdening the adjacent neighborhoods.
The goal has always been to sell the properties for redevelopment, Butler said. In recent years, the CRA had issued other RFPs on the land and attracted builders, but declining real estate values and hardships in getting construction loans made it challenging for any of the proposals to move forward.
Today, as the economy heads toward recovery and with the economic development incentives in place, officials are optimistic that this is the time for the right development team to come along.
“Everything is in place to build an attractive destination,” Butler said.
For more information about the RFP: RFP for West Atlantic Ave in Delray Beach Florida
Leon Fooksman is a journalist who writes for Delray Beach Community Redevelopment Agency. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.