Building Boom: Investments in change
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By Tim Pallesen
The developer of Atlantic Crossing vows construction will begin this year despite a lawsuit to force redesign.
The $200 million mixed-use project on East Atlantic Avenue got its final city approval in January, prompting residents at the nearby Harbour House condos to sue to force the developer to build an east-west access road off Federal Highway to relieve traffic.
A favorable court ruling for the neighbors could stop Atlantic Crossing construction after it begins.
“I would be surprised if the developer took the gamble,” Harbour House condo president Bruce Leiner said. “We’ve still got a significant debate.”
But Atlantic Crossing project manager Don DeVere said starting construction this year isn’t a gamble at all.
“Our viewpoint is that this is a frivolous lawsuit that will be dismissed,” DeVere said. “We’re eager to get it resolved, but it’s not impacting our timetable.”
The Harbour House lawsuit names both the developer and the city as defendants. It claims the developer is obligated to build the access road because it was included in a prior development plan that the city approved in 2009.
“To say we reneged on a past deal is patently false,” DeVere said. “This is a new plan adopted by the city.”
The need for an access road from Federal Highway east to Northeast Seventh Avenue was an issue when city commissioners gave their final site-plan approval by a split 3-2 vote last January.
Coastal residents joined other Atlantic Crossing neighbors to argue that Federal Highway access is necessary to relieve traffic congestion on Atlantic Avenue and narrow side streets.
Mayor Cary Glickstein said the “deeply flawed” traffic plan will degrade neighborhoods.
The majority of city commissioners urged approval of the site plan by stressing the importance of the 9-acre mix of restaurants, shops, apartments and offices for jobs and the city economy.
DeVere said construction will begin in October or November to move utilities on the western portion of the project.
Demolition of existing buildings there will begin in December or January, he said. That will allow excavation for a 440-space underground parking garage to be built by late 2015.
Once the first building opens at the corner of Atlantic and Federal in 2016, existing retail tenants in the eastern portion can be moved to make way for construction elsewhere on the site over two years, DeVere said.
Atlantic Crossing, a joint venture by Ocean Ridge resident Carl DeSantis and the Edwards Companies of Ohio, will have 80,000 square feet of restaurants and shops along with 79,000 square feet of office space and 356 luxury condos and apartments when finished.
The project is within Delray Beach’s Community Redevelopment Area.
“We’ve seen unbelievable response to the availability,” DeVere said.
“We have exciting clients looking at the space, including great restaurant operators.”