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West Palm Beach

The West Palm Beach City Commission is set to take a final vote Monday on a proposed business district that would rezone part of the city’s downtown area.

The proposed Okeechobee Business District would change land-use rules in several blocks of the Okeechobee Boulevard corridor west of the city’s waterfront.

In particular, the district would allow The Related Companies to build a 25-story office building about 400 feet from the waterfront along Lakeview Drive, where current zoning limits building heights to five stories.

The Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT), Palm Beach County and the Town of Palm Beach have criticized the proposed business district.

The city should delay a vote on the business district to study the district’s impact on traffic, according to Stacy Miller, a regional director of transportation development for FDOT.

The city hasn’t demonstrated “the long-term adequacy of transportation facilities to meet established acceptable levels of service,” Miller wrote in an Aug. 7 letter to the municipal development services director in West Palm Beach.

The state Department of Economic Opportunity, which would have to approve the Okeechobee Business District, recently told the city it doesn’t object to the proposed district, but warned the city that failing to respond to objections from other state agencies could subject the district to challenges in court.

The city hasn’t shown how the high-rise Okeechobee Business District would benefit downtown West Palm Beach as a whole or surrounding areas, assistant county administrator Patrick Rutter wrote in an Aug. 3 letter to city officials.

West Palm Beach Mayor Jeri Muoio told the Palm Beach Post that the proposed business district drew “comments” from state agencies, “but they were not objections.”

 

Source: The Real Deal

West Palm Beach might reconsider a business district that would encourage downtown office development through rezoning.

Mayor Jeri Muoio directed city staff to revive planning for the Okeechobee Business District downtown, which the city commission rejected last year.

The proposed district would have rezoned an area that now limits the height of buildings to five stories. But opponents saw the proposal as an attempt to promote one development within the district: One Flagler, a 25-story office building proposed by The Related Companies, led by Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross.

Mayor Muoio told the city’s development services director, Rick Greene, to revive planning for the Okeechobee Business District to encourage downtown office development.

The city’s Planning Board is scheduled to consider the district on May 15. The five-member city commission may have enough votes to approve the Okeechobee Business District this year. Two of the three votes against the district last year were cast by city commissioners who are no longer in office.

It is unclear whether the district would again include the land where Related wanted to build a 25-story office building, which opponents had denounced as “spot zoning.”

Gopal Rajegowda, senior vice president of Related, said the company’s focus in West Palm Beach is developing an office building at another downtown site at Rosemary Avenue and Evernia Street.

 

Source: The Real Deal