Development in West Palm Beach on pace for seven-year high

Development applications, often seen as a leading indicator of future construction activity, have hit a seven-year high in West Palm Beach.

New figures compiled by the city's planning division showed 2012 has seen the highest level of activity since 2005.

Since October, the city has received more than $243,000 in planning-related application fees -- 94% of what it expected for the entire year.

"The development equates to jobs for our citizens and the residents of our community," said Douglas Wise, a development services director. "[There is] a lot of interest in new development. People are looking to invest in the community. So, for us, it's really exciting."

A renovation of the McKeen Towers on South Flagler Drive, a new auto dealership on Okeechobee Boulevard and improvements of the Clematis Street Streetscape were among the projects being developed.

"While you always want to remain cautiously optimistic, the numbers we are seeing are a clear indication that developers are returning to West Palm Beach," said Rick Greene, a city planning manager. "It's not only about the numbers, but it is about the quality of the projects we're now seeing."

The city said it expected to receive more than $320,000 in new development application fees by October.

Development applications are the first step in the process toward the completion of a construction project.

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