Saturday, August 5, 2006

Lake Worth Corners - N/W Corner of Lake Worth Road and Boutwell Drive

(The uploading of .jpegs seems to be working now - that has been holding up this post. Apparently there is a limit on file size and the images used here are from gigantic files that I have shrunk from the original. Remember, all you have to do is click on the image to see more detail.)

Site Plan:

Elevations - Mixed Use Building:

Cross Section Mixed Use Building:

Elevations - Interior of Site - Residential:

Elevations - Town Houses:

Since the class that I just came back from was on "Urban Housing - Mixed Use Development", I thought this would be a good time to give an up-date from our PZHRPB meeting of 7/18. I am going to post some .jpgs made from super-garuganturan.pdf files (gives me an opportunity to work with Photoshop) and I hope they provide an adequate level of detail through the world of the Internet to your computer screen.

I will cut to the chase and tell you that we spent a lot of time of this project and asked them to come back to our second meeting in August (on 8/16). They need to address some site design concerns and other conditions that the Board thought were important. The project is part of a request made by New Urban Communities, who is also currently underway with Hammon Park just north of the downtown area.

This property is recently annexed into the City and was assigned a Residential Planned Development zoning designation allowing a maximum of 40 units to an acre. The idea here is to provide a signature entry to the Lake Worth Park of Commerce and establish some opportunity for increased density along a transportation corridor that will likely be the home of one of the City's Transit Oriented Development (TOD) districts (near the existing Tri-Rail station). It also helps establish a linkage along Lake Worth Road to Palm Beach Community College, etc. At a total of 200 units, it actually comes in much less than the maximum density of 40 units to an acre - more in the range of 26 units to an acre. If a project is going to rely on surface instead of structured parking, this is usually the maximum that can be accomodated. Any higher density would require structured parking of some sort. This is a good example of how even the permitted density may be higher, the built density can be - an usually is - much lower. Don't let that fool you though - this is still a "dense" project.

The unit sizes here are smaller and are in the ballpark of the size of unit that the City permits in the downtown. Likewise, the parking requirement here is also the same that we use in the "Core" area of the downtown. This is a less strict requirement that is supposed to reflect that there are other ways to move about in the the downtown area other than the single passenger automobile. We discussed this at length at our meeting - while it does make sense to acknowledge the proximity of the project to a transit stop - will it adequately meet the need of the residents and those that use the commercial/retail space (on the first floor of the mixed use building)? We are generally concerned about the amount of green/open area available to residents and the applicant, in response, pionts out the proximity to the County's John Prince Park to the south. The upper floors of the south building will have a tremendous view of Lake Osborne and the park.

Regarding the commercial uses in the building, I expressed considerable concern regarding one of the permitted uses proposed for the project. That being "Gourmet Food Stores, including Beer and Wine" - that is a very slippery slope and the Board agreed that this particular use should not be included since it could easily lead to a convenience store (a wolf in sheep's clothing).

We were also concerned that the applicant was saying it would be a "green building" but we determined that it was more the "sizzle to sell the steak" and there would be no real way, as proposed, to make sure that some level of LEED certification take place. That will be something that we want to hear more of a commitment about when they return. The Board is also interested in hearing more about the provision of affordable housing - a commitment for the longer term availability and sustainability of such units - rather than just providing smaller units than what is offered now in the marketplace. There are ten efficienies that come in around 400 square feet.

The applicant is also following through with FDOT on permitting on-street parking along Lake Worth Road.

The architecure is "modern", which is a nice departure from the over-used mediterrean revivial architecture that we are used to. Darrin Engel, our urban designer, had good things to say about it. These are Darrin's comments as contained in the staff report:

    The applicant has proposed a development that is of above average design quality. They have taken design inspiration from the nearby industrial park and allowed for many units to take advantage of great views over John Prince Park to Lake Osborne.

    • Overall the buildings are comprised of four different building designs that are compatible. These designs are located on the site so that at any one location you will see more than one building design.
    • The buildings are designed to provide good textural quality, great surface definition and a lot of deep shadows.
    • The designs of the buildings and site are of high quality and are creative. The overall project is unique are also unique and will provide a good sense of “place”.
    • It is my belief that the design is not trendy. The design has taken inspiration from the historical styles of Arte Moderne and the International Style. There is also some classical proportion systems shown along the street elevations.
    • There is not much for the project to be compatible with. Across Lake Worth Road is the park, north is industrial, east is an empty lot and west has residential. The project as proposed is strong and may hopefully inspire creative design in the immediate area.

As this will be coming back, I would like to hear what you think about this project.

This is a motion, which failed, but laid out the list of conditions that the Board was looking at and gave direction to the applicant to address when they return. Also, we wanted direction from the City Attorney as to the legality of requiring a contribution to the City's parking fund for a project that is outside the City's Core downtown area:

Action: Vice-chair Spinelli motioned and seconded by Herman Robinson that the Board approve the applicant’s request to amend the Lake Worth Corners Residential Planned Development (RPD) to incorporate the site plan; the RPD development standards and principal/permitted uses subject to the following conditions:
  1. no plastics
  2. no EFI’s
  3. HOA replace windows
  4. address font on signage
  5. applicant to apply and pay for design, construction and installation of Park of Commerce sign
  6. address bus stop
  7. apply for and receive at least bronze level Leeds certification
  8. parking on Lake Worth Road should be limited to two hours
  9. applicant to design build and pay for a walkway to John Prince Park
  10. applicant to deed restrict 10 units
  11. applicant pay for 15 parking spaces in the Lake Worth Core area at a rate of $15,000 per space
  12. change the design of the pool middle to a diamond or other shape to increase the width
  13. increase the landscape to 150-200 trees and shrubs to bring impervious cover up to code

  14. signage on building to coincide with blueprints
  15. eliminate retail space usage that fall under the category gourmet shops specifically: wine, beer, and cheese and others that apply

"Political advertisement paid for and approved by Wes Blackman for Commissioner – District #3"

Thursday, August 3, 2006

Assorted E-mail Conversations re: Beach Negotiations

I thought you might be interested in the following e-mail thread regarding the concern regarding the possibility of a hotel on the beach. This concern was raised after our first day of negotiations. Subsequently, one of the agreed upon terms was that no residential or hotel use be built on the beach. Here it is: (my responses in bold)
Hello Paul,

A few points that some of us believe should be addressed before a contract is decided upon. We consider these to be very important.

1. Is the drawing to scale? The developer said yes but that is not good enough. We need to be sure that the commission and the public see an accurate drawing before the commission is asked to make a decision.

2. The elevations of the building need to be written into the contract. "Two stories" stated verbally is not sufficient. How many feet in elevation?

3. I have sent a request to Wes, asking for clarification about the possible implications of a zoning change, specifically whether a hotel could then be built on the beach. Please make sure that this is addressed before a zoning change contingency is written into the contract.

Thank you,

Laurie Decker
Annabeth Karson

Hello Wes,

After the beach negotiation meeting today, a concern is being raised that a change in zoning could allow a hotel to be built on our beach. Please address the possible zoning changes that could allow this to happen. I hope you will agree that this needs to be discussed before a zoning change contingency is included in the contract with the developer.

Wes, please address the possibility of the developer building a hotel on our beach from the zoning perspective.

Thank you.
Annabeth Karson
Laurie Decker
Well, if we were to craft language that allowed hotels on the beach, that would be possible. Technically speaking. That would probably entail a land use plan change (reviewed by the State of Florida and also would entail a major change to our zoning regulations). I cringe at the thought. The concept of residential (I place hotels as a quasi-residential use) was completely ruled out after the last (circa 1998+ or -) attempt. It just would not happen politically (a prediction with 99.9% assurance) and I am sure that Palm Beach would have something to say about it too. And, nothing that happened today would indicate that was a possibility.

No one in their right mind, and I include myself in that group (please back me up on this!), would allow that to happen. Perhaps that is why nothing has been changed related to zoning on the beach in that the fear of such a prospect prevents any action that would allow something that we would actually want on the beach.

A cold day in H-E-double toothpicks comes to mind...

I repeat...nothing happened today that would indicate that was even a remote possibility.

Wes Blackman

How can the size of their ballroom work without a hotel? It can't. Partitioning to hold multiple weddings? That's ridiculous, don't you think? Why would we need a ballroom to hold 500-650 people? Can you imagine the traffic jam for events??? Will PB go for that?

You would be surprised about the demand for covered, air conditioned space that can accommodate a large group of people. Add our location of the Atlantic Ocean beachfront and demand would increase, independent of a hotel. In our area, it really would not rely on a hotel to "feed" the need. Many times, instead of holding multiple events at the same time, partitioning allows for set up of another function while another is going on. I think, and this is based on some experience, that it would be a rare time when all four areas (if there are that many) are being used at the same time. You could always condition such a use so that operationally it could not have more than X (2,3, or 4) functions going on at the same time. You could also condition such an operation so that large events (singularly or collectively) occur only in the evening when the parking demand for beach related use is at it lowest.

When we as a City create a list of permitted uses for the beach, it could exclude hotels by not listing them as permitted uses. Also, there are many hotels in the area that don't have adequate ballroom facilities and may want to supplement their offerings with an off-site location such as a ballroom at the beach. It may also provide opportunities for revenue sharing with the City if the revenue gained from such a venue is beyond a certain amount.

Anything proposed there would have to meet the Countywide traffic performance standards - meaning a traffic study would have to be reviewed and approved by Palm Beach County. Again, the hours of operation would be looked at as it related to peak hour traffic and the projected peak hour demand for such a facility.

There have been many times that I have been a part of large Lake Worth related events that had to be held in West Palm Beach or unincorporated Palm Beach County since the City didn't have access or its own facilities to accommodate such numbers. The City could strike a deal for priority scheduling for events, etc. It really is not that far out as you may think.

If the primary source of traffic is "off island", I don't see Palm Beach having a great concern over the use of such a facility.

I think if you contemplate this a while, the prospect will seem more within the realm of the possible, without many harsh impacts.

We can discuss this more and I am sure we will, as a community, before it would come to pass. In the process, we would identify areas that might need additional controls. Please realize that we can only allow a hotel to built by including it as a permitted use or a conditional use. If it isn't there, no hotel.

I'd appreciate knowing your thoughts once you think about the prospect for a while.

Wes Blackman

Thanks for replying . . .
Also, there are many hotels in the area that don't have adequate ballroom facilities and may want to supplement their offerings with an off-site location such as a ballroom at the beach. It may also provide opportunities for revenue sharing with the City if the revenue gained from such a venue is beyond a certain amount.
We know this, Denise has researched it. But it's my understanding that the city is not asking for revenue sharing, only $500,000. I think this is a huge mistake that we'll regret for two decades, if this project comes to fruition.

I also think that we aren't asking for much in return for use of the beach. And, there didn't seem to be any support from the negotiating team for any kind of escalating clause over time, which amazed me. (Ed note: There is a max CPIU increase of up to 5% after the first year)


Are you only amazed?? I'm on the verge of apoplexy, to quote Howard Cosell.
What on earth are they thinking?? Do you think we're going to walk away from millions? Could we (THEY) possibly be that desperate for a building?

I happen to live in the out-skirts of Apoplexy, a large and thriving metropolis within my being. Perhaps exposure has diluted its affect over time. LOL - where did that come from?

I do not understand the mind set of those that represent our fair City. Somehow, we always must have our hat in our hand, two cents in our pocket and are pressed to the wall for last minute decisions. Plus, we never adequately realize the assets that we posses that others would either only dream of or beg for. To hear Paul Boyer talk today, he was interested in just getting one check for one amount ($500,000) and not looking for complications, like formulas or revenue sharing clauses.

You would be hard pressed to find a municipality with 18 acres of property with essentially dual water frontage, in Florida or the east coast, period. We should be in the cat bird's seat, but we are just looking for table scraps. And to think this is a 30 + year odyssey further perplexes the already perplexed.

Are you planning to mention these issues to Paul or the attorney? Or Corey? Or to ask them what their rationale is for being so poverty-minded?

I hope to have the opportunity. (I did bring this up during the second day of discussions)


And if you know about the potential overflow of events from the area hotels, you should also know the prices they charge for venues that don't open onto the Atlantic.
Denise has claculated a conservative estimate of revenues that a ballroom that size could generate and it's huge.
Of course, we probably won't make them show us their financials for the next twenty years, so they can continue to mislead us about how much they're making. Not our business, right? Don't ask for too much or they might walk away from the sweetest deal that ever fell into their laps.
And as developers go, they don't seem to be too crafty. It's terribly embarrassing that they're besting us at the negotiation table.

Hi Wes,
Thanks for the quick response. I appreciate your opinion that the political will to allow a hotel on the beach does not exist at this time. However our question was about the zoning. You write that allowing a hotel would entail "major" changes to the zoning. Would these major changes necessarily be more "major" than needed to allow the current beach proposal?
The rest of the beach has hotels or condo buildings on it, so why would the State of Florida not approve the change? And why would Palm Beach have anything to say, especially considering their beach has hotels as well?
With the wrong city commission, we can never be sure that the concept of a hotel could not come back. I thought the concept of a 50,000 sq ft structure on the beach was also completely ruled out after the "last attempt". So much for that.
Does a hotel require the same zoning as residential? (Can you build a hotel in a multi-family neighborhood?) Or does a hotel require commercial designation?
I am glad to know that the idea makes you cringe. Our question, however, is about the zoning:
Would the zoning changes that would allow for the current beach proposal also allow for a hotel on the beach?
Hope this can be answered with something akin to a yes or no, and why.
Thanks again.

Would the zoning changes that would allow for the current beach proposal also allow for a hotel on the beach?


Would these major changes necessarily be more "major" than needed to allow the current beach proposal?


The rest of the beach has hotels or condo buildings on it, so why would the State of Florida not approve the change?

Because they would require an analysis regarding the need for essentially converting our "Preservation, Recreation and Open Space" district into a quasi commercial/residential zoning district that would require a modification to the future land use designation which underlies the property. It would be perceived that we are taking out land that was predominantly used for public recreational purposes and initiating a change which would allow a substantial (not ancillary) quasi-commercial use. I am not saying that this is impossible - the sun "could" rise in the West tomorrow, but the probability of that is extremely remote. I consider such a notion (allowing hotel uses on the beach) in that category. They may also have issues regarding the intensification of development allowed on the beach which is in a coastal high hazard area.

As with any question like this, this is an opinion of what is possible or probable. It is only my opinion and much of my opinion is also based upon on what I see and perceive as the public and political will not to have a hotel at our beach.

Does a hotel require the same zoning as residential? (Can you build a hotel in a multi-family neighborhood?) Or does a hotel require commercial designation?

Hotels are treated in both ways in terms of what zoning districts in which they are allowed. There are what I refer as quasi-commercial uses, but also have a multi-family residential quality to them. Many times they would be permitted through a permitted by "special use " approval, which involves meeting a higher standard(s) than other uses permitted by right within the same zoning district. I could walk you through our zoning regulations and show you how hotels/motels are regulated in both our commercial and multi-family residential districts if you want.

I thought the concept of a 50,000 sq ft structure on the beach was also completely ruled out after the "last attempt".

There are currently no regulations within our PROS zoning district that allow for any use other than open air recreational uses. In order to accommodate anything different out there than what is there we need to establish regulations that deal with the proportion of the site that can be covered by impermeable surface (ground coverage) and by building (building coverage), setbacks, proportion of the site that can dedicated to any use other than recreational use, etc. If this has been a twinkle in the eyes of Lake Worth for over 30 years, you would think that somewhere along the line these changes would have been made to the zoning regulations that relate to this property. The fact that those changes haven't been made tell a lot about the difficulty of doing anything there - politically - than what is there now.

Again, my opinion.

Wes Blackman

There should be a whole series of reporting requirements (audited financials) that could be used as a basis for revenue sharing. Also, part of our sharing should be an almost "right of first refusal" on the use of those facilities. We should take the stand that this is essentially ours, but when we are not using it, other people can use it.

I will mention this, but as moderator it is a bit out of an impartial and functional role.


Thank you for all the comments. The clarification is appreciated.


"Political advertisement paid for and approved by Wes Blackman for Commissioner – District #3"

I'm back!

Had a great time in Boston. Got to spend some time with my Dad early on, saw a cousin in the Boston area (had a lobster fest there, yummmmmmy) and then the rest of the time I stayed in Cambridge. I attended a class on Urban Housing and Mixed Use Development for two days. About 14 people in the class, from all over the country - one from Louisiana and he had some interesting input regarding the Katrina rebuilding effort.

The class was facilitated by Johannes Van Tilberg of Van Tilberg, Banvard & Soderbergh, AIA - he is based in Santa Monica and is both architect and developer. I have plenty of examples of his work (some of which was built on 50 x 150 lots - they could almost be air-lifted from California to Lake Worth!) and will be putting them in an electronic format - posting them here. Unfortunately, Blogger is having trouble right now with the uploading of photos, so as soon as that is resolved you'll be able to see some examples.

One of the class projects was to split into four groups and go around Cambridge and scout out a potential site for redevelopment. We then made a presentation on feasibility, issues and a financial pro-forma. The amazing part of that was that three of the four groups independently chose the same site - a Harvard-owned parking lot on Church Street. We all had different approaches. Educational and entertaining. Cambridge is notoriously difficult when reviewing and considering projects for approval - that is the main reason nothing is being built or redeveloped. Harvard Square is a great student. younger crowd retail area and the empahsis is definitely pedestrian.

They enjoyed my stories of Lake Worth and I showed them this website for them to get an idea of the types of projects that we are seeing here. By the way, the three story townhouse is a model that is being used around the USA. We are definitely not alone.

I really can't wait to upload some of the images here, but will have to wait until the Blogger issue is fixed. That is also delaying another post regarding one of our mixed-use projects on the corner of Lake Worth Road and Boutwell Road - that and I do have to work for a living - my dogs need food!

I did get back yesterday afternoon, but had a scheduling conflict so I was unable to attend most of the PZHRPB meeting - started it, but had to leave after the presentation on the pier. I understand that the Board approved a very nice law office project just to the north of the CVS building - two story with parking, for the most part, concealed and underneath the second floor.

That's all for now. More is on the way, just wanted you to know that all is well and you will be hearing more soon.

Oh, and Delta redeemed themselves on the way back. No problems at all.

"Political advertisement paid for and approved by Wes Blackman for Commissioner – District #3"