UPDATED Jan 25, 5:35 p.m.: The proposed Atlantic Crossing project slated for downtown Delray Beach’s Atlantic Avenue faces another hurdle in its quest for city approval.
Delray Beach commissions voted Tuesday night to postpone the settlement of a lawsuit filed by the developers of Atlantic Crossing. They requested a private meeting to clarify the history and details of a site plan before moving to approve the waivers filed by CDS International Holdings, whose principal is Carl DeSantis, and the Edwards Companies.
Commissioners were confused about the final details of the approved site plan drafted in 2011, which was approved Nov. 20, 2013 by the city’s Site Plan Review & Appearance Board.
Though most members of the current commission believe that Atlantic Crossing is too big for those two blocks west of Veterans Park, a previous commission approved the project in December 2012, and in January 2014, the commission approved another plan with changes that were under consideration during Tuesday’s meeting.
The move to postpone marks yet another holdup for the estimated $200 million, 9-acre mixed-use project proposed for East Atlantic Avenue that would span across Northeast First Street to Atlantic Avenue and from Northeast Sixth Avenue to Veterans Park.
When approved, the settlement agreement will end the lengthy litigation between the city and Atlantic Crossing developers Edwards Cos. of Columbus, Ohio, and private equity firm CDS International of Boca Raton, founded by famed entrepreneur Carl DeSantis.
It would also allow Edwards Cos. to finally move forward with its four-block redevelopment project where future residents and visitors would be able to live, work, shop, and dine. Dubbed the Eastern “gateway” to the city’s downtown district, it would encompass six buildings featuring 82 luxury condos, 261 apartments, 83,000-square-feet of office space, and 76,000-square-feet of retail. Atlantic Crossing will also include a carefully curated selection of local and regional merchants, specialty shops, and up to 15 restaurants.
Atlantic Crossing developers estimate the project would add $4.3 million in new tax revenue, boost job creation, and would present Delray Beach’s first buildings to incorporate structures that implement green building principles.
During the meeting, Mayor Cary Glickstein and Deputy Vice Mayor Mitch Katz were agreeable to the developer’s modified site plan which addressed nearby residents’ concern over vehicular and pedestrian access, but were unable to make a decision without a full understanding of the overall plan, with specific questions regarding the developer’s plans for upgrading Veteran’s Park.
“I came here fully prepared to work through this, but I’m not prepared — after spending nearly $400,000 to your law firm — to learn that we don’t know what we’ve got [today] on the eve of approving a settlement agreement that has paralyzed this part of the city,” Glickstein said. “I would like to have the benefit of a chronological understanding of where we started in 2011 and how it’s evolved to the second draft [in 2014] which attempted to codify the publics’ concern.”
Vice Mayor Jordana Jarjura echoed that sentiment. “[Before moving forward] I would prefer to have some conversations about where we were, where we are, and what’s missing,” she said.
“To me, [the agreement] is a good compromise. It’s not what they wanted, it’s not necessarily what we wanted, but we met in the middle,” Katz said.
Under the modified agreement, Atlantic Crossing showed commissioners plans to add a two-way road along Northeast Seventh Avenue via East Atlantic Avenue, and included a 10-foot pedestrian arcade on one side, and 6-foot pedestrian walkway on the other.
Representatives for Edwards Cos. maintained a commitment to work with the city and keep the process moving smoothly, but the company said it will also pursue legal avenues.
“It is disappointing to have yet another delay after working in good faith, devoting substantial time and money, to reach a proposed settlement by again providing the city what it requested,” Dean Kissos, chief operating officer of Edwards Cos. said in a statement. “While we were hopeful to reach an amicable resolution, we will continue to pursue our rights in court to obtain the final approvals we previously earned to make Atlantic Crossing a reality.”