Friday, January 27, 2023

Doc’s All American and Delray Central Projects Approved

Doc’s All American could reopen in Delray Beach about a year from now.

That was the estimate from Neil Schiller, attorney for the developer whose project that includes a new Doc’s got city commission approval Tuesday night. Commissioners Ryan Boylston, Adam Frankel and Shirley Johnson voted yes. Mayor Shelly Petrolia and Commissioner Juli Casale voted no.

The new Doc’s will be one portion of the project at North Swinton and West Atlantic avenues. The other will be a three-story office building facing Atlantic. Though it’s all one project, the office portion will be separate enough not to overwhelm the redone restaurant, which again will specialize in burgers, fries, hot dogs and soft ice cream.

Aside from being home to what most Delray Beach residents consider the “iconic” Doc’s, this site matters in the city because it’s at the entrance to the historic district. Six members of the seven-member historic preservation board voted against the plan because they believed that it was too much for the location and would not be compatible with the district.

Casale noted that lopsided 6-1 vote. She cited it as one reason to oppose the project.

After saying the board does “a fabulous job,” Schiller said, “In this case, I think they didn’t see the forest for the trees.” With so much of historic preservation, “There’s a tradeoff.”

In this case, that involved Doc’s. The developer could have proposed to tear down the restaurant and maximize the allowable density on the two properties. Instead, the project saves Doc’s—a community and commission goal—in exchange for a larger single building on the land next to it.

Johnson cast the swing vote after noting, correctly, that the city approved a three-story building on the south side of Atlantic. Approving the Doc’s project would be “equity.” Johnson went on to say, “I’m oozing equity.” There also were many references to food as the meeting stretched into its fourth hour.

Speaking of food, Schiller said the operators of Doc’s will be two restaurateurs from Palm Beach County. Andrew Dugard and chef Pushkar Marathe operate the Stage and Ela Curry restaurants in Palm Beach Gardens.

Though they will maintain the ‘50s-drive-in fare that made Doc’s so popular, Schiller said, Dugard and Marathe may add a farm-to-table element and go for “just a little less grease.”

Delray Central project approved without controversy

delray central
Delray Central architectural plans courtesy of Delray Beach Planning and Zoning Board

Against all odds, city commission approval of the Delray Central project wasn’t very controversial.

The vote was close. As with Doc’s, Boylston, Frankel and Johnson voted yes, with Petrolia and Casale opposed. One homeowners’ association sent a letter of opposition.

Overall, though, the issue lacked the drama of many other development projects in Delray Beach. This one will combine two office buildings on South Congress Avenue with a new, 277-unit residential structure. Roughly one-fifth of those units will be aimed at essential workers.

One reason for the lack of controversy, Boylston said, could be that “information is starting to get out.” Though the residential component, at eight stories, will be taller than the office buildings, Boylston said, current rules allow eight stories on that site. Before the commission were waivers unrelated to building height.

“I’ll probably have to keep explaining that for the next 15 months,” Boylston said. He likely will run for mayor in March 2024, when term limits will force out Petrolia.

Who will replace Shirley Johnson in March?

Commissioner Shirley Johnson

Speaking of elections in Delray Beach, I previously had noted the March 2023 race between Casale and Rob Long in Seat 2. There’s also a race next March in Seat 4 to succeed Johnson, who is term-limited.

One candidate is former Commissioner Angeleta Gray, who is one of two appointed board members on the community redevelopment agency. Gray has raised about $4,800. Her opponent is Angela Burns. She has raised about $12,000, which includes a personal loan of $5,000.

Bidders for Delray Golf Course development

delray beach golf club
Photo courtesy of Delray Beach Golf Club

I reported Tuesday that Delray Beach received six proposals for a public-private partnership to develop a portion of the city’s golf course. Here are the bidders:

Hensel Phelps: A Fort Lauderdale-based firm that performs all aspects of a project, from planning to construction to management. Its website features projects from airport terminals to health care facilities to hotels and resorts.

T-36 Investment Holdings: This is a Tennessee-based firm that, according to state records, started doing business in Florida three months ago. Its principal worked previously at a company that specializes in retail outlet malls.

E2L Real Estate Solutions: The website of this company, based in Winter Park, lists the Town Square redevelopment project in Boynton Beach. A Business Development Board news release cited E2L as the master developer of the 16.5-acre public-private project. The private portion is in litigation.

Heatherwood Luxury Rentals: The website of this Long Island-based company says Heatherwood is “committed to building upscale residential communities, commercial property and luxury urban spaces.” Almost all of its portfolio appears to be in New York City and surrounding areas.

Bobby Jones Links: This might be the outlier proposal. The Atlanta-based company, with a regional office in Naples, manages golf courses. Services range from golf operations to food and beverage. It’s the only bidder whose main operation is not residential or commercial development.

Related Group: Based in Miami, this is the largest private developer in Florida. Related has done public-private partnerships, known as P3s, throughout Florida. In Hollywood, the company is building a beachfront condo on public land in return for constructing a new park and community center and making lease payments to the city.

The commission will consider the proposals in February.

Barbieri to remain chairman of PBC School Board

In a second vote last week, Frank Barbieri remained chairman of the Palm Beach County School Board.

Barbieri, who represents Boca Raton and West Boca, had received the most votes—three of seven—at the organizational meeting following the swearing-in of new member Edwin Ferguson and others who had been reelected. But Barbieri got just three votes—a plurality, not the required majority.

The second time, two members switched, giving Barbieri five votes. Karen Brill was reelected vice chairman.

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Randy Schultz
Randy Schultz
Randy Schultz, a native of Hartford, Connecticut, has been a South Florida journalist since 1974. He worked for The Miami Herald until 1976 and for The Palm Beach Post from 1976 until 2014, where he served as managing editor and editorial page editor. Since 2014, he has written a politics blog, commentaries and other articles for Boca magazine. His writing has earned first-place awards from the Florida Magazine Association and the Florida Society of Newspaper Editors. Randy has lived in Boca Raton with his wife, Shelley Huff-Schultz, since 1985. His son, daughter-in-law and their three children also live in Boca Raton.

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