The Real Deal Miami

Indecision plagues redevelopment of Poinciana Way

By Dan Weil | October 01, 2008 04:38PM

Local real estate professionals says the fate of Palm Beach’s Royal Poinciana Way area remains up in the air, despite the recent submission of a plan to guide redevelopment of the district.

Royal Poinciana Way, which represents one of the town’s three major commercial corridors, has suffered from neglect in recent years, with buildings deteriorating and businesses fleeing the area.

“Something needs to happen. This area has pretty much been neglected for the last 25 years or so,” Rick Gonzalez, a local architect, tells The Real Deal.

The Treasure Coast Regional Planning Council recently sent a plan for redevelopment to the Town Council. But opinion is divided between those who want an area that’s hospitable to business and those who want an area more conducive to greenery and residences.

The planning council’s proposal includes sprucing up Bradley Park, a new road traversing the Royal Poinciana Plaza, and changes in zoning regulations to create a more urban-style area, including smaller setbacks and liberalized parking rules.

To Leslie Evans, a real estate investor who owns two buildings with retail shops on Royal Poinciana Way, the key issue is zoning. “The problem here is that zoning regulations don’t permit reconstruction of existing buildings with an increase in square footage,” he says.

And he can’t earn a decent income stream on his properties without additional space that would allow for more tenants or the expansion of existing tenants.

“Right now it’s not economically feasible to do anything other than let the buildings remain as they are.”

Given the diversity of views on the issue, it’s difficult to reach a consensus, says Eugene Lawrence, a local architect and member of the town’s Planning and Zoning Commission. He notes that his commission, the Architectural Review Commission and the Landmark Preservation Commission all have different ideas as to what should be done.

But in the end, some kind of plan for higher density must be approved, Gonzalez says. “Otherwise the district will just continue to wither.”