Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Interesting history: Information sent to me from former Post reporter Scott McCabe back in 2007.


In 1913, “A two-story bath house, known as the Old Casino opens. . .”.


The timeline, 1912–2000, for our City of Lake Worth’s Beach and former Casino structures are below, compiled by Scott McCabe. Following the timeline is Mr. McCabe’s latest endeavors for those of you who recall him.

Note the tower on the north side of the former Casino:
This image is prior to the 1928 Okeechobee Hurricane which damaged much of the second floor and destroyed the former Casino’s tower.

Mr. McCabe sent me the historical timeline 10 years ago — in March of 2007 — from the City’s founding in 1912. Our Lake Worth Beach and a Casino structure located there (gambling, interestingly enough, was once permitted) has always been one of the City’s focal points and economic drivers that’s “gone off the rails” many times in the past.

Enjoy reading this timeline and keep in mind the current situation in historical context:
  • 1912: City leases oceanfront property from Palm Beach resident E.M. Brelsford.
  • 1913: A two-story bath house, known as the Old Casino, opens and serves as a gathering place for bathers and Saturday dances. Gambling is allowed until 1928.
  • 1918: Fire destroys the structure.
  • 1922: Lake Worth Casino and Baths opens, featuring a saltwater pool and an underground passage to the beach.
  • 1928: Boardwalk built; hurricane damages Casino tower.
  • 1947: Hurricane tears open the Casino’s roof.
  • 1949: Casino remodeled with $185,000 in bond money; upper level parking lot built near Casino building; pool changes from salt to freshwater.
  • 1951: Concrete promenade replaces boardwalk.
  • 1959: Pier opens.
  • 1973: John G’s Restaurant opens in Casino building, becomes famous for its huge breakfasts.
  • 1982: City Commission pays architects Peacock & Lewis $45,000 in January for plan to revitalize the Beach and Casino. The $3 million plan includes a restaurant, recreation area and pedestrian promenade. In June, residents petition Commission to stop Beach improvements.
  • 1983: Peacock & Lewis plan estimated to cost $8.5 million.
  • 1985: Commissioners accept renovation at $6.6 million in February, then finally cancel it in April. City then plans to build a convention center at Municipal Beach Complex.
  • 1986: Commissioners agree with consultants Botkin & Associates, Inc. that Casino should be demolished and rebuilt but take no action.
  • 1990: Underground passage filled in; commissioners contemplate building a miniature golf course at the beach.
  • 1993: Developer Pugliese Co. proposes movie theater, restaurant and apartments at the Beach.
  • 1995: Commissioners end talks with Pugliese in April; Bridge Design Associates submits study in July on the Casino building, reports it needs to be repaired but is salvageable.
  • 1996: Developer David Paladino proposes 160,000 square feet of shops and restaurants in August; the city takes no action; city surveys voters in November about their visits to the beach and what they’d like to see there.
  • August 1998: City officials ask more than 100 developers for ideas to improve the beach area.
  • November 1998: Four development teams, including Paladino, submit plans that include a hotel, park, timeshare, shops and restaurants.
  • December 1998: Commission aborts multi-million dollar plan for any redevelopment after residents complain.
  • March 3–4, 2000: City to hold public meetings to find out what residents want for the area.

Photograph below is the former Casino in 2000. Note the pool building: a former City administration built a new Casino without taking the aging municipal pool into consideration. Now the pool is shut down, possibly never to reopen at the Beach.
And the rest as they say, “is history”. In 2017, the City is still trying to figure out how to fix all the problems with the Casino and pool. Our newly-renovated Casino’ by the way, was actually 94% demolished in 2010; and it was “Greenwashed” too.

Scott McCabe was a reporter for the Post from 1998–2005. Use this link for his LinkedIn page.

Back then that newspaper had a “200,000-circulation”. Now that the Post has decided to chase the online “Chimera”, the print circulation is much less now and the newspaper is printed by the Sun Sentinel in Broward County. The Post if you didn’t know — “back in the day” was once a significant source of jobs for many here in Palm Beach County — as well an economic powerhouse for the region.

Now back to the timeline above: A developer seeking to renovate the Gulfstream Hotel may want to read over the timeline above several times. The Beach in the City of Lake Worth — you could say — is problematic. And it’s also a good idea to have a track record to demonstrate to the public you can complete a project here in the little City of Lake Worth.

By the way, have your read the Weekly Progress Report ending on Sunday, July 23rd on the Gulfstream Hotel in Downtown Lake Worth?

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