500 Ocean project offers hope to downtown Boynton's growth
Friday, 18 September 2015 21:04

By Attiyya Anthony Sun Sentinel
September 17, 2015
Boynton Beach officials say 500 Ocean project could be vital for city's growth
Boynton Beach's downtown could be on the brink of a building boom, city officials say.
It's been a long time coming, as city officials have tried for more than 15 years to develop a critical piece of downtown real estate at Federal Highway and Ocean Avenue.
By 2016, officials expect there will be six-story buildings, a parking garage and fitness and bowling center constructed at 101 S. Federal Highway. It's part of a development called 500 Ocean. And if everything goes to plan, 500 Ocean will feature 341 luxury rentals, 13,300 square feet of retail and 6,600 square feet of office space.
The area has been a blank canvas for more than a decade because of a failed development project in 2003, which razed some of residents' favorite businesses. And some say that it made the city look like a ghost town.
"We have been working on downtown Boynton Beach for years," said Mayor Jerry Taylor. "In order to build downtown, you have to have businesses and a population and we haven't had that in a while."
The Arches, a $104 million development project, was expected to span 4.7 acres in Boynton Beach's downtown, but the plan didn't come to fruition. According to city documents, the project was expected to change the face of downtown with a 12-story complex, packed with 378 residential units, 40,500 square feet of retail space and 12,000 square feet of commercial space.
In 2006 and 2007, the developer asked the city for site-plan extensions. The city granted the extensions, but pulled the plug on the project in 2008. However, landmark buildings already had been demolished along Federal Highway.
In 2005, the redevelopment agency razed several mom-and-pop shops, such as Christine Francois' Dolphin Bar & Lounge at 115 S. Federal Highway, to accommodate the much-anticipated Arches development.
When the Arches project died, it marked a setback in the city's development plans. Francois said that with 500 Ocean, activity is slowly creeping back onto Federal Highway.
"This is epic," Francois said. "The Dolphin Bar was torn down … and nothing has been happening over there since."
She added: "Now, it's really good timing for the 500 Ocean project. I've been waiting for this."
City officials say that although the Arches project failed, it left the area as a blank canvas, and more appealing to developers such as the Altamonte Springs-based developer, LeCesse Development Corp., which will construct 500 Ocean.
Developers broke ground on 500 Ocean in July and expect the $5 million project to be complete by next year. "That property is an anchor for redevelopment," said Mayor Taylor. "We're really excited to get it off the ground."

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Boynton Beach Redevelopment Agency
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