West Palm Beach condo vote postponed

WEST PALM BEACH — For the fourth time, a city commission vote to place 21- and 20-story condos on North Flagler Drive is being postponed.

While disagreements over the number of condos in the mostly residential north end of West Palm Beach forced the previously delays, now The Related Group said it is delaying Monday's vote at the behest of commissioners who want the developer to meet with megayacht servicer Rybovich "to explore synergies in our respective and redevelopment efforts," according to the company's CEO.

The condominiums would be built just north of Rybovich's Superyacht Marina if the commission approves the project.

"Related has shown it wants to go forward building a development, and to the south you have Rybovich working to create something pretty extraordinary in the yachting industry," Commissioner Kimberly Mitchell said Sunday. "To me it made all the sense in the world that instead of looking at each other like islands, they should be looking at how we work together."

Mitchell said Related, Rybovich and the city need to work together to build a project that will complement upcoming changes in the north end.

"Maybe that means reorienting the project so that it feels like it is part of a yachting community," Mitchell said. "You can do that by sharing some architectural features, allowing the connection between the project. There are a lot of things that could be done if they were working cooperatively. It was difficult in the beginning, but there was not a level of trust."

Steve Patterson, CEO of The Related Group, said Sunday he doesn't have a good feel of what negotiations with Rybvoivch will accomplish. Patterson said he doesn't know if it is necessary to alter the architectual plans, although he said he will bring an architect to meet with Rybovich officials and planners.

"We would like to see how this whole thing could come together," Patterson said. "(The city) sees the whole Rybovich marina being the nucleus to the neighborhood to help solve some problems on U.S. 1 and throughout the neighborhood and create some kind of momentum for the north end to grow in the next cycle in a positive way.

"I'm trying to keep an open mind. That's the goal and that's what everybody wants and expects from us. Hopefully this process will bring out all thoughts and concerns, if any."

Patterson said he plans to come back in front of the commission Aug. 20, although he couldn't guarantee the plan would be ready for a vote then.

"Time kills deals. There's no question about it," Patterson said.

Commissioner Sylvia Moffett, who represents the north end and has been against a project that has a large number of condo units and that violates the city's comprehensive plan, said Sunday she knew nothing of recent discussions between the city, Related and Rybovich.

Moffett said Rybovich has always been concerned with large condos just north of its headquarters. Related initially proposed 506 condominiums beginning in the $300,000 range. The company has since dropped its proposal to 397 units beginning in the $400,000 to $500,000 range in order to gain commission support. The entire project is expected to cost Related about $100 million.

A majority of north end neighborhood presidents, long opposing the project, said last week they would support 350 units. Some neighborhood leaders, however, still oppose anything over 164 condo units which would be in accordance with the comprehensive plans. Commissioners say they are allowed to grant waivers.

"I was hoping they were postponing the vote because they were coming back with a lower number," Moffett said of Related. "I've always been concerned with the take that Rybovich has on this whole numbers business. I've talked in the past with Rybovich and 397 didn't sit well with them."

Rybovich officials were not immediately available for comment. Patterson said he doesn't believe 397 units are a concern for Rybovich.

"The reality as this is all kind of unfolding is that it's not so much a density issue as it has become an issue of overall concern of what happens to the neighborhood long term," Patterson said. "That's bigger than our project."

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