Mecca Farms is yielding to lowered expectations.
Part of the rural land in western Palm Beach County, once seen as the best location for a scientific research institute, is going to become a public shooting range for gun owners instead.
Crews last month began building the first phase of the Palm Beach County Shooting Park on part of the Mecca Farms property.
The first phase of the shooting park is expected to open to the public next year with shooting ranges for pistols and rifles measuring 50 yards to 300 yards in length.
The Sun-Sentinel also reported that more than 70,000 residents of Palm Beach County have concealed-weapon permits.
The Florida arm of the Scripps Research Institute on the Florida Atlantic University campus in Jupiter, near Interstate 95, nearly wound up at Mecca Farms, a cluster of former citrus groves well west of I-95.
In a feverish Scripps recruitment campaign, Palm Beach County bought Mecca Farms for $60 million in 2004 and spent another $40 million preparing the land to serve as the Florida home of Scripps.
But environmental concerns derailed the development of a Scripps campus on the 2,000-acre Mecca Farms property, located on the east side of the J.W. Corbett Wildlife Management Area, which covers 60,000 acres.
Palm Beach County sold Mecca Farms for $26 million in 2013 to the South Florida Water Management District, which plans to use most of the land for water storage and treatment and replenishment of the Loxahatchee River.
But the county’s deal with the water district also requires that part of the 2,000-acre property would become a shooting range. [Sun-Sentinel] – Mike Seemuth