How Far Is Palm Coast From The Beach

Inevitably West Palm Beach is growing.

The nora district is proposed to be the newhome to hip restaurants, bars, shops, and apartments in West Palm Beach, Florida. The district's borders Palm Beach Lakes Blvd., left, and the FEC tracks, right, and and south to 7th Street and East to Dixie Hwy. © GREG LOVETT/THE PALM BEACH POST The nora district is proposed to be the newhome to hip restaurants, bars, shops, and apartments in West Palm Beach, Florida. The district's borders Palm Beach Lakes Blvd., left, and the FEC tracks, right, and and south to 7th Street and East to Dixie Hwy.

The key is for it to become a better West Palm Beach, not a replica of overdeveloped Fort Lauderdale and Miami but a charming, livable burg that thrives economically.

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Proposals like the Nora District, short for North Railroad Avenue, for 12 now-dusty acres just north of downtown, would provide a share of that promise, if done right.

Envisioned as an incarnation of Miami's eclectic Wynwood — and by some of the same developers — the zoning district would encompass a wedge of land roughly from the Flagler Memorial Bridge approach in the south (North Quadrille Boulevard) to near the Good Samaritan Medical Center in the north (Palm Beach Lakes Boulevard), between North Dixie Highway on the east (U.S. 1), and the Florida East Coast Railway tracks in the west.

As reported Sunday by The Post's Alexandra Clough, investors have been purchasing an assemblage of lots there for years and have been working quietly with the city since about 2019 on how to revise zoning and land-use regulations to accommodate the area's rejuvenation. The plan was crafted to allow coordinated, denser construction profitable for the current developers, West Palm Beach-based NDT Development and Miami's Place Projects, while appropriate and life-giving to a well-located but neglected part of town.

801 and 805 N Railroad Avenue in West Palm Beach Monday, Oct. 11, 2021. These addresses, as well as 909, are slated for redevelopment to an artsy district in the style of Miami's Wynwood. © (LANNIS WATERS / THE PALM BEACH POST) 801 and 805 N Railroad Avenue in West Palm Beach Monday, Oct. 11, 2021. These addresses, as well as 909, are slated for redevelopment to an artsy district in the style of Miami's Wynwood.

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What merits less enthusiastic endorsement is that the plan would hand the developers up to $15 million in cash and tax cuts, as approved this week by the city's Community Redevelopment Agency.

The CRA, designed to revive blighted areas, gets its money as it spurs development within its boundaries, by pocketing tax revenues that stem from the increased property values. So, if the project wasn't undertaken, the CRA wouldn't have that much money to begin with. And in this case, much of it is meant for redoing the streetscape and other infrastructure for the project.

Still, city commissioners, before handing out approvals Nov. 29, need to carefully evaluate whether it's necessary to toss a multimillion-dollar development team $15 million the city sorely needs to incentivize a presumably already profitable venture. Incentives are fine but not giveaways. 

A rendering of the Nora development, rehabbed warehouses along North Railroad Avenue north of West Palm Beach. © NDT Development and Place Projects A rendering of the Nora development, rehabbed warehouses along North Railroad Avenue north of West Palm Beach.

One would like to think the city's real estate team is as skilled at deal-making and negotiating as the developers, but there's little evidence of that.

The city and its CRA have dished out millions for projects that, while promising, came in far over budget and were years delayed. An easily manageable project to give small shops and start-ups innovative spaces to pop up on the city's historic main street, at 314 Clematis St., for example, morphed into a $7.5 million purchase of prime downtown real estate by the CRA, not to mention the millions more needed to rehabilitate the 1923 structure that had previously failed as an hookah lounge.

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The same team that spearheaded that project oversees the CRA now. They've worked hard at many good projects, particularly in the city's troubled Historic Northwest neighborhood. But the Nora project, at about $520 million, is West Palm's biggest ever other than CityPlace, rebranded Rosemary Square, and begs professional oversight.

Another aspect that merits attention is how hard the city and CRA will work to earn community buy-in. This project merits repeated outreach to nearby residents and businesses, as well as those throughout West Palm, to solicit concerns and ideas.

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The CRA's longtime staff has demonstrated, with the Sunset Lounge/Heart & Soul Park projects, among others, that it knows how to knock on doors, meet with community leaders and hold public outreach meetings. The administration needs to insist upon that approach here and enforce developers' pledges to include local, minority- and women-owned businesses on their teams and to provide jobs and training. Despite its excellent location close to downtown, this is an area that needs an economic boost that is sustainable.

The nora district is proposed to be the newhome to hip restaurants, bars, shops, and apartments in West Palm Beach, Florida. A partial view of the area with FEC tracks on the right looking south to downtown. © GREG LOVETT/THE PALM BEACH POST The nora district is proposed to be the newhome to hip restaurants, bars, shops, and apartments in West Palm Beach, Florida. A partial view of the area with FEC tracks on the right looking south to downtown.

Finally, while the city needs to address the proposal with care and caution, it needs to act quickly and not allow the project to bog down in the bureaucracy that has added years onto many other projects. Real estate up-cycles only last so long and this project needs to get out of the ground while the money and willpower are ready to go.

Those concerns aside, we're encouraged to see the city thinking big. Many projects are underway that hold great promise for West Palm Beach, and this is one of them.

This article originally appeared on Palm Beach Post: Create a Wynwood-like district in West Palm Beach, but do it the right way | Editorial

Source : https://www.msn.com/en-us/money/realestate/create-a-wynwood-like-district-in-west-palm-beach-but-do-it-the-right-way-editorial/ar-AAPKcNe

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