Friday, September 24, 2021

On the agenda at this year’s CNU Florida Summit: The Cottages of Lake Worth Beach take center stage!

The City of Lake Worth Beach will be featured by the Congress of New Urbanism (CNU) at this year’s summit to be held on October 6th–8th.

Later in this blog post is a link for more information and to get registered.

The CNU, “is the nation’s most innovative and influential organization promoting the building and revitalization of great urban places. We are a multi-disciplinary organization comprised of architects, urban planners, developers, investors, engineers, academics, elected and career governmental officials, and citizen advocates.”

On Friday, October 8th the CNU summiteers will be visiting Lake Worth Beach. On the agenda is a walking tour of our historic cottages:

Click on image to enlarge:

Lake Worth Beach Mayor Betty Resch will be the day’s Special Guest. Wes Blackman will conduct the walking tour of the cottages.

For more information and to get registered for this year’s CNU Florida Summit click on this link.

Interested in learning more about the City of Lake Worth Beach and its historic cottages? The Cottages hardcover book will be available for purchase during the upcoming walking tour.

The front cover:
To learn more about the book use this link. The first edition was published in 2016; the second in 2017. Worth noting is another historic event in this City’s history in March 2019: By voter referendum the City changed its name to become Lake Worth Beach!

“We take a look back at the road that created Florida”, Post reporter Barbara Marshall wrote.

“100 years ago, Dixie Highway began winding through Palm Beach County, spawning today’s tourism industry.”

Dixie Highway is a historic highway in Lake Worth Beach.

Click on image to enlarge:

Does this lot look familiar? This is now the Gonz Auto Collision Center at 1401 N. Dixie Hwy.

And here is Gonz in the modern era getting with
the theme Lake Worth Beach!

Here is The Hulk in a Gonz Auto Club Car! Gonz has a newly updated website including new services.

Now back to the origin of Dixie Hwy.

Barbara Marshall at The Palm Beach Post published an article about the origins of Dixie Hwy. back in early 2016. It is easy to forget that the development of Florida is a relatively recent phenomenon. First came the trains, ushered in by Henry Flagler on the east coast and Henry Plant on the west coast of Florida. With the advent and mass production of the automobile in the early part of the 20th century the burgeoning middle class needed more and more roads for travel and leisure. That was the genesis of Dixie Hwy. — what we know as U.S. 1 — that goes right through the center of this City. The article details some of the old routes that made up the original road and where you can find other sections in Palm Beach County.

It’s true. Once upon a time this City had its
very own Chamber of Commerce.

This sign was at the corner of Dixie Hwy. and
Lake Ave., outside City Hall:

Further up north on Dixie Hwy. ‘back in the day’ was a popular restaurant called Christine’s. The structure survived. Most recently it was the Blue Front BBQ, an excellent example of roadside architecture from the Mom & Pop era when motels, small businesses, and restaurants lined Dixie Hwy.

Dixie Hwy. meant opportunity for the communities that lined it. Lake Worth (prior to the Beach) took advantage of that by having many motels, restaurants and attractions (including signs over the highway pointing travelers to the Beach, the Casino building, and the Gulfstream Hotel), all in the hopes of snagging dollars from tourists and create a local economy that could sustain the resident population. As you have read on this blog many, many times before, all that changed as the main source of vehicle travel switched to I-95 in the 1970s. Since then Lake Worth, and other cities to a lesser extent, have been trying to re-carve its niche in the “new” economy of the 21st century.

There are very few communities that celebrate their old historic roads that continue to exist and how crucial they were to early development. As a redevelopment effort and focus this City could consider designating a portion of the road as a Historic Highway. This might help attract tourists and visitors, classic car enthusiasts, history “buffs” and others just as Route 66 and now U.S. 27 in the State of Michigan are historic attractions.

The Palm Beach Transportation Planning Agency (TPA), to name one organization, could be the catalyst for this type of redevelopment and marketing effort. It has worked in other locations and we are already an attractive tourist destination. This would be another way to put us “on the map”.

Friday, September 17, 2021

Series of historic postcards of the Gulfstream Hotel

Old Covers: Palm Beach Life magazine. Sunny images for just ¢25!

March 22, 1927:

January 12, 1932:

January 26, 1932:

Two historic hotels in two downtowns. The Gulfstream Hotel stands tall. The Pennsylvania Hotel stands tall no longer.

Here is an excerpt from a Letter to Editor in The Palm Beach Post dated April 4th, 1994 written by “Wes Blackman”:

“It [the Pennsylvania Hotel] is one of the few remaining structures from the city’s glorious but fading past.

Click on image to enlarge: 

Gulfstream Hotel in the City of Lake Worth, the Pennsylvania Hotel, and the Belleview Biltmore in Belleair: What history teaches us about historic preservation.

Newspaper clipping, front page of Palm Beach
Daily News (aka, The Shiny Sheet), Sunday,
February 19th, 1995:

The process of demolishing the Pennsylvania Hotel began much earlier than 1995. There is a name for that. It’s called “demolition by neglect”.

Friday, September 10, 2021

Meet the final five candidates for city manager in Lake Worth Beach.

Here are the details for the upcoming event:

Click on image to enlarge.

Sunday, September 5, 2021

That vacant block, a long-time eyesore on N. Dixie Hwy. between Dartmouth and Cornell drives in Lake Worth Beach.

That prominent eyesore is located in the Lake Worth Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA) district. It wasn’t always an eyesore. It was once a popular destination for residents and visitors alike, like World Thrift is today here in this City.

Who would have thought when World Thrift opened it would attract so many customers from the Town of Palm Beach and West Palm too? Across the street though is an empty lot. An eyesore.

That empty lot on one of our major thoroughfares — actually three lots which include 2302, 2314, and 2318 N. Dixie Hwy. — was once a thriving part of this region in Central Palm Beach County, the former Patio Coffee Shop:

Across the street from where the Patio Coffee Shop once stood, at 2401 N. Dixie Hwy. is where the former Park Avenue BBQ was located. That parcel is now a spillover parking lot for World Thrift, a very nice parking lot indeed, nicely landscaped and tidy. Meanwhile, across the street, the 2300 block remains underutilized.

Wednesday, September 1, 2021

The City of Lake Worth Beach in the Movies: “Body Heat.”

A friend let me borrow this DVD from her collection. She’s a big fan of film noir and likes this 80s version of the genre due to its setting. The movie Body Heat stars William Hurt, Kathleen Turner (many think that this film launched her career), Ted Danson, J.A. Preston and Mickey Rourke.

Two fictional towns, besides the real West Palm Beach (a city without a beach) and Miami, are settings for the movie. One of these is Miranda Beach which is where William Hurt’s lawyer character has his office (now called the City of Lake Worth Beach). The film was released in August 1981. Our heat and humidity nearly becomes the main character of the film. The combination probably played a role in the naming of the film.

You really need to watch the movie for the identifiable Lake Worth Beach scenes. You can check out what the downtown looked like back then. There are many other scenes but here are three recognizable glimpses of our past.

“Ned Racine”, actor William Hurt, with City Hall in the background. Click on images to enlarge.
A typical hot, humid summer day in “Miranda Beach”.

In this scene above, Ned Racine, Hurt’s character, is walking down Lake Avenue and we clearly see the current City Hall behind him. He eventually crosses the street and you can see a view east. Not sure if it was part of the movie set or not, but most of the buildings look occupied and there is a lot of street traffic.

His ‘office’ was somewhere in that first or second block east of Dixie Hwy. He also ducks into the former L’Anjou for dinner and he makes a comment about making enough money to eat there once a month if he doesn’t order an appetizer.

Note the makes and models of the cars in this scene:
“Ned” with a cigarette in hand walks down J Street.

The scene above is “Mr. Racine” walking north on J Street. I am guessing that the liquor store sign is where Propaganda is currently located. There is also a coffee shop called “Stella’s” which is home to a couple of scenes. Some people think that it was the former Junior’s at the southwest corner of J Street and Lucerne Ave. However it seems to be where the current AG Edwards office is.

In the picture below, you can make out City Hall in the background on the left. Notice the large glass storefront that is not there now.

Ted Danson in his earlier days as an actor:
Was this actually a coffee shop called “Stella’s” across from City Hall? Or just the setup for a movie scene? “Ned” is smoking another one. Inside the shop. Remember, this is circa 1980.

There might have been a coffee shop there. If anyone can confirm this, great! I really encourage you to watch the movie even if you may have seen it before.

Apparently, many residents were used as extras and you might see someone you know. It might be worth having a ‘PG13’ community showing of this movie sometime. Madison, Indiana shows Some Came Running, made in 1957, and is set in their historic downtown each year as part of a summer festival.

There have been other movies filmed here in the City of Lake Worth Beach too. One used the Gulfstream Hotel as a backdrop in 1984’s very unsuccessful Harry & Son, directed by Paul Newman. It was panned by the critics. One of the stars, Robby Benson, earned a Razzie Award nomination for Worst Supporting Actor.

By the way, other scenes in Body Heat were shot in Manalapan and Hypoluxo. Strangely, no scenes at all from Lake Osborne Drive.

Tuesday, August 24, 2021

“At first I thought it was a joke,” board member Phillip Spinelli said. . .

“[T]hey were dead serious, and then I was like, ‘Oh my God.’
It’s like calling the Vatican
Church Joey.”

Below is more recent history about the Gulfstream Hotel in the City of Lake Worth Beach many of you will find drop dead hilarious. And many long-time residents will recall a name or five from an old newspaper clipping published in the Post fourteen years ago. This clipping had to be cut and pasted the old-fashioned way for this blog because the news article in print spanned recto with five very short columns above the fold.

You’ll also note the spelling, “GulfStream” with a capital ‘S’ as some liked to title this famous landmark. The historic name for the hotel was ‘Gulf Stream’ (two words) and blended over time into one (called a portmanteau). The current and most commonly accepted usage is “Gulfstream” with a lowercase  ‘s’.

Without further ado. . .

Hope you enjoy this blog post about
“Frank discussions”.

Take special note of the date,
December 23, 2005:

“Frank” as in Frank Zappa? Frank Sinatra?
Or other famous “Franks”?

Column one under banner headline.
Click on image to enlarge:

CSC Lake Worth was the developer that owned the Gulfstream in 2005. The Great Recession began in 2007 and the rest is history as they say.

And the balance of the article by staff writer
Tanya Wragg continues. . .

“At first I thought it was a joke,” board member Phillip Spinelli said Thursday. “Then they were dead serious, and then I was like, ‘Oh my God.’ It’s like calling the Vatican Church Joey.”
     Spinelli, who said he otherwise thought the project was “a great idea,” added: “That may be OK in South Beach or downtown Clematis with a brand-new hotel of something, but this is the GulfStream. It’s a historic building.”
     During the meeting, which lasted more than five hours, CSC Lake Worth, which paid $13 million for the hotel in July [2005], asked the board to approve modifications to the 1925 structure. They include adding French doors and balconettes, reducing its units from 160 to 90, and demolishing three adjacent buildings.
     Hotel Frank would be a tribute to famous “Franks”, such as Frank Zappa, Frank Sinatra and comedian Frank Miller, said CSC Lake Worth President Adam Schlesinger, adding his attorney, former CRA board member Frank Palen, to the list.
     “Frank is such a great name and so many great people in American history have been named Frank. It’s (Lake Worth) a city that is receptive and warm to everybody,” Schlesinger said Thursday.
     Board member Jon MacGillis said he would have liked an emphasis on The GulfStream, rather than Hotel Frank.
     “The applicant did stand up and give a good explanation behind Frank,” he said Thursday. “Some board members were concerned that maybe residents would be offended by taking out the GulfStream name. It’s a new hip idea and concept they’re trying to float to attract a new type of clientele they see is in that area.”
     The announcement was made at an otherwise empty meeting, which only a handful of residents attended. The city might have seen more had the locals Schlesinger said he planned to pay to speak for his project showed up.
     Schlesinger on Wednesday confirmed reports he planned to hire local actors to talk for the project meeting. He said he went through an advertising agency to look for extras. He planned to show them the project. Then, if they were in favor of it, he’d pay them to support him at the meeting, he said.
     “We just want to get as many permanent residents as excited as we are,” he said.
     The historic board approved many of CSC Lake Worth’s modification requests, but deferred voting on the demolitions until February.
     Sharon Jackson, the city’s community redevelopment director, said the preservation board may negotiate on the name with CSC, which does not need the board’s approval for the name.

Thank You for visiting today and on a
more serious and somber note. . .

Excerpt from a Letter to Editor in The Palm Beach Post dated April 4th, 1994 written by “Wes Blackman”:

“It [the Pennsylvania Hotel] is one of the few remaining structures from the city’s glorious but fading past.

Click on image to enlarge: 

Gulfstream Hotel in the City of Lake Worth,
the Pennsylvania Hotel, and the Belleview Biltmore in Belleair: What history teaches us about historic preservation.

Newspaper clipping, front page of Palm Beach
Daily News (aka, The Shiny Sheet), Sunday,
February 19th, 1995:

The process of demolishing the Pennsylvania Hotel began much earlier than 1995. There is a name for that. It’s called “demolition by neglect”.

Sunday, August 22, 2021

“A Riddle”. Poem by poet unknown. Guest at Gulfstream Hotel. Lake Worth [Beach], Florida. 1963.

        “ A lake ~ and swinging palm trees,

               The Ocean ~ deep and green ~ ”

Click on image to enlarge:

The image above is from the 2015 Coastal Observer series about the history of the Gulfstream Hotel. The first issue was titled, “Dog Days and Glory Days”.

From that series, a poem. . .

. . . can you guess My riddle?*

Some folks, they like a riddle,
Now here is one for you.
It’s square, not deep, but open
Soft breezes blowing through.

Beyond the sky is lovely,
While clouds go sailing o’er.
I hear the call of song birds,
A distant train’s low roar.

A lake ~ and swinging palm trees,
The Ocean ~ deep and green ~
Now can you guess My riddle?
It’s my window ~ at Gulf Stream

*Poem about the Gulfstream Hotel from December, 1963 titled, “A Riddle”, written anonymously by a visitor to the hotel. Poem reprinted in the Coastal/Greenacres Observer (publisher: Lake Worth Herald) on October 29th, 2015.

Wednesday, August 18, 2021

Comment by Yours Truly Under Public Comment at the August 17, 2021 Regular City Commission Meeting re The Gulfstream Hotel

"I’m offering this public comment to urge fellow Lake Worth Beach residents to voice their support for the Gulfstream Hotel rehabilitation project this coming Thursday night (8/19). There is strong public support for the redevelopment of the entire block where the historic hotel sits. It was in March of 2020 that Question 3 appeared on the ballot, just before the pandemic hit. I’d like to remind you that it was both a Presidential Preference Primary and Uniform Municipal Election in Palm Beach County. A total of 4,365 people voted on Question 3 which would allow any future construction to be to a height of 87 feet, which corresponded to the height of the historic hotel. It was a large turn-out for a municipal election. The “yes” votes carried the day by 81.82% of the votes cast. The lowest percentage of yes votes in any precinct was 73.4 percent.

Mayor and City Commissioners, that is what is called a mandate. The voters of Lake Worth Beach realized that to save our Gulfstream Hotel, which is on the National Register of Historic Places, new development would need to happen on the block. This will create the economic engine that restores and provides a beneficial use for the community and its foreseeable future. The historic hotel will once again take its rightful place as a centerpiece of hospitality and commerce that it was meant to be.

We as a community are concerned about saving endangered species. Let me introduce to you an endangered species that the Lake Worth Beach community wants to preserve and cherish. As an early 20th Century Florida Boom era hotel, the Gulfstream Hotel is one of few examples left. There are many reasons for this as the expectations of the traveling public have changed over the years for larger rooms and more amenities. As a certified urban planner, specializing in historic preservation, I’ve been witness to, and have been the undertaker for, demolition of too many historic hotels from that era. We need only look to West Palm Beach. It lost two historic waterfront hotels in the Pennsylvania Hotel and the Hotel George Washington. 

To those 3,408 people who voted “yes” on Question 3, I urge you to submit a public comment for Thursday’s meeting in support of preserving the Gulfstream Hotel in the manner it deserves.Thank you!"

Tuesday, August 17, 2021

Important Notice from the City of Lake Worth Beach re Public Meetings

 Virtual Commission Meeting Notice

Due to the recent increase in COVID-19 cases, in an abundance of caution Lake Worth Beach will return temporarily to virtual only meetings. To allow meetings to continue with proper social distancing, only Commissioners and key personnel will be allowed into the meeting location and the meeting will be livestreamed for all to view. This week the City Commission will be meeting at City Hall for the Commission Meeting scheduled for Tuesday, August 17, and the Gulfstream Hotel Work Session scheduled for Thursday, August 19 (this meeting has been moved from the Casino Ballroom to better accommodate the transition to fully virtual). Members of the public will be able to watch both meetings live online at

Those who wish to participate in Public Comment for either meeting may submit their comment via the City website ( The City will accept such public comment cards up to fifteen (15) minutes before the start of the meeting. There are two options for submitting a public comment.

1) Live Public Comment: Once the comment is submitted the resident will receive an email with confirmation of the comment and another email from Zoom with details on how to access the meeting to read your comment(s) into the record. If a resident wishes to provide a live comment they must be available on Zoom and logged in with their real name in order to speak.  

2) Clerk Read Public Comment: Check the checkbox if you prefer the City Clerk to read the comment(s). The clerk will read the comment into the record at the appropriate time during the meeting. The resident will NOT be required to be present on Zoom if this option is selected.

The Public Comment system is open now for those wishing to leave comments for the August 17 meeting. The system will open at 8am on Wednesday, August 18, for those who wish to leave comments for the Thursday, August 19, meeting.

The Commission and City Management will continue to assess the evolving situation and will resume in-person meetings as soon as it is safe to do so. Residents are encouraged to get vaccinated, wear a mask, and continue to socially distance at this time.

Friday, April 9, 2021

Lake Worth Beach Resident Decals Available Now

Effective immediately, per City ordinance, Lake Worth Beach will begin selling beach decals online for residents and seasonal residents that live in the 33460 and a limited area of 33461 zip codes only.  The beach decal period is effective May 1, 2021 to April 30, 2022.  The price will remain the same including tax: $42.80 for residents and $64.20 for seasonal residents.  Please check the interactive map to see if you qualify prior to completing the application.  Beach decals are available for purchase online by going to the City of Lake Worth Beach website Parking Page and completing the application and uploading the required forms. Once purchased the beach decals will be mailed out.

Tuesday, March 23, 2021

Lake Worth Beach CRA Zoom Sponsored Workshop: Monday, March 29th

The Lake Worth Beach CRA in partnership with Tenant Mentorship presents a free ZOOM Workshop:

OMNICHANNEL 1, 2, 3 -- Bridging the gap between physical and online businesses.

Date: Monday, March 29th

Time: 11:00 AM

Where: online via ZOOM


The bridging of on and offline business is no longer an option for independently owned retail and restaurants. It's a mandatory move necessary for long term survival. Yet so many small businesses view this transition with fear and trepidation. The process doesn't have to be overwhelming. With the proper training and a solid understanding of how it can improve business, the conversion to omnichannel can be both painless and seamless.