By Tim Pallesen
A Trader Joe’s grocery store and eight restaurants might be too much to squeeze onto a 10-acre site near the Linton Boulevard Bridge, a city advisory panel says.
The developer of the proposed Delray Place project east of Federal Highway on the south side of Linton Boulevard will scale back the project after the city’s Site Plan Review and Appearance Board rejected its site plan by a 5-0 vote on Dec. 12. Board members voiced concern after the developer told city staff that the California-based Trader Joe’s might be a tenant.
“In California, it’s a nightmare getting into Trader Joe’s,” board member Rustem Kupi warned.
“Trader Joe’s will be a mess if that’s who comes in here,” board member Jason Bergman agreed.
Delray Place’s site plan requests 130,000 square feet of commercial space that includes two anchor stores, a bank and the eight restaurants in a line along Linton. “We think the site is too small for the amount of commercial space here,” city planner Ron Hoggard said.
The developer, Retail Property Group Inc., also is asking the city to approve a reduction in required parking spaces (from 524 to 453) plus reductions in open space, landscape and setback requirements.
After SPRAB rejected that proposal, the developer got board approval a week later to submit a revised site plan in February or March. “They’ve agreed to address our issues,” Hoggard said.
The developer declined to comment about Trader Joe’s. But Hoggard said the popular boutique grocery chain was described as a “potential tenant” during his talks with the developer.
Trader Joe’s opened its first Florida store in Naples two years ago. More stores are planned in Sarasota, Gainesville, Tallahassee and south Miami-Dade County.
Residents living near its possible Delray Beach location protested when the developer told Hoggard delivery trucks would arrive at the grocery store as early as 5 a.m.
Ron Kolins, an attorney representing 14 Tropic Isle residents, requested a 12-foot buffer wall to be built and a ban on truck deliveries before 8 a.m.
Neighbors also want outdoor music to be banned at the restaurants and no outdoor food served after 9 p.m.
“A restaurant, while an enjoyable place, brings a lot of noise and impact,” Kolins told the advisory board.
“Delray Beach has been very sensitive about the impact projects have on neighbors,” he said. “I’m asking you to live up to that.”
Neighbors and board members agreed at the Dec. 12 meeting that the site now zoned for offices needs to be redeveloped, but with smaller buildings and more parking.
“That intersection requires something special,” board member Jose Aguila said. “But this developer missed an opportunity by jamming the site.” City commissioners approved rezoning for Delray Place on first reading on Nov. 13, but they also expressed concerns about the developer’s site plan, which the commission still must approve.