Citizens for Thoughtful Growth West Palm Beach

Below is a piece written by Citizens for Thoughtful Growth West Palm Beach, and includes a piece in the PB Post written by Tony Doris. Everyone receiving this e-mail was asked to share it, so that is what I am doing. WPB Watch will follow up with a story later in the week. Thanks for taking the time to read and understand and hopefully attend the important meeting listed below.

Please share this information
To tidy up one detail before we move to the next block buster news:
CMX Zoning/Carefree update
CMX Zoning Proposal

The CMX Zoning proposed by the City for Dixie Highway from 25th Street South to the City Limits (spillway) was voted down 6 to 1 by the Planning Board at the April 17th Meeting. As you may know, the CMX Zoning Proposal would have allowed the Carefree Theater Project to move forward as it is currently being proposed.

Thank you to everyone who attended and spoke. You did a great job.

The Planning Board is an advisory board to the Commission, so it is possible that the proposed plan could still move forward for approval at some point in the future.
According to statements from City Hall the plan is off the table for now. Stay tuned, as we know things change rapidly.

Okeechobee Business District ——–It’s BACK

The Zoning and Land Use Changes for the Okeechobee Business District that would have enabled the construction of the 25 Story One Flagler (or something similar) immediately behind the Christian Science Church met with defeat last year by a 3-2 vote of the City Commission.

The City is bringing the proposal back through the process AGAIN. Notices were mailed out to surrounding property owners and residents this past week.

The other issue that was rolled out this week was the new “Mobility Plan” to address congestion and other traffic issues on Okeechobee Blvd. and other areas of the downtown.

AND….In case you missed it, the PBC Tourist Development Board is investigating the need and economic feasibility of expanding the Convention Center and the Kravis is building an additional parking garage and expanding the lobby. Won’t that make Okeechobee a fun place to navigate?

The following meetings are scheduled and we really need a BIG turnout for every meeting as the lack of turnout is often used as justification that people have no problem with what is being proposed!

Planning Board

Tuesday May 15th at 6 pm in the City Commission Chamber at City Hall

Downtown Action Committee

Wednesday June 13th at 9 am in the City Commission Chamber at City Hall

Unfortunately, we have no details other than a legal description of the three requests that were sent out.

After a citizen asked for additional information, they received an email from a City staff member stating that the staff report and backup would be made available to the public on Friday May 11th at 5 pm on the City web site. So if anyone has questions, that would give them one full working day prior to the day of the Planning Board meeting to get information. We will send out an update as soon as we have anything new.

Below is a very informative article written by Tony Doris on the front page of the Palm Beach Post. Our local press is vital, or we wouldn’t get any information at all.

Is 25-story waterfront office back on table despite height concern?

By Tony Doris – Palm Beach Post Staff Writer

The battle lines over downtown waterfront development have re-formed.

Fresh off last year’s 3-2 defeat of the Okeechobee Business District plan, Mayor Jeri Muoio has told staff to study the rezoning effort again, to help attract desperately needed Class A office construction downtown. Two of the three city commissioners who voted against the plan are gone, raising the prospect that yeas will out-number nays this time around.

At the heart of the fight last year was The Related Cos.’ proposal to build a top-flight, 25-story tower 300 feet from the waterfront, in a zone that currently allows no building taller than five stories. Muoio’s staff proposed the new zoning district ostensibly to promote office construction generally but it was clear the only project on the table that it would immediately promote was Related’s, the city’s most prolific development firm, and that stirred opposition.

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A bloc of residents fearing blocked views and traffic logjams on Okeechobee Boulevard, Flagler Drive and the Royal Park Bridge, fought the city and the firm, despite the promise of jobs, attractive architecture and an endowment to preserve the historic, African American-designed First Church of Christ, Scientist. Town of Palm Beach officials expressed concerns over the project’s potential to impede access over the bridge.

But at a mayor-commission work session Monday, during a discussion of a consulting team’s just-completed “mobility study” of downtown traffic solutions, the mayor turned to her director of development services and urged him to try again.

The city needs to make sure it has places for people to live and work, the mayor said. It has plenty of the former, with several apartment buildings about to come on line, but not enough Class A offices, she told Development Services Director Rick Greene.

“If they can be working downtown, that cuts down the use of cars, significantly…. I would like to ask my staff to take another look at the Okeechobee Business District and see if we can work this through, including recommendations that are in the mobility study…. Let’s look at how we can bring more jobs into the city by having more Class A office space.”

Within days, the district was on the agenda once again, for the city’s Planning Board to consider. That meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m., Tuesday, May 15 at City Hall. Groups that opposed the District proposal the first time are urging members to show up in force.

It’s unknown how the revived proposal will differ from the original, and whether it will gain be drawn to include the Related site, which was roundly criticized as “spot zoning” last time. The new plan has not been made available to the public.

City Commissioner Paula Ryan, whose district includes downtown, said Friday she was open to creating an Okeechobee Business District if it was more than just a redrawing of zoning lines. The city should see it as “an innovative district” whose provisions include incentives for connectivity with surrounding neighborhoods, transportation alternatives to connect people with their offices and other destinations, and affordable housing, she said. With the right provisions, it could help transform the area into “a massively connected mixed-use corridor,” Ryan said.

CityPlace officials have not said whether they would revive their One Flagler office tower project, which they spent many months designing and trying to sell to the community, only to lose the chance when the commission voted the district down.

Gopal Rajegowda, senior vice president of The Related Cos., said recently that for the moment the company is focused on starting another downtown office tower. That 18-story tower, 360 Rosemary, is slated to rise at the corner of Rosemary Avenue and Evernia Street, possibly as soon as later this year.