PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. — More housing and a new town center with dining, hotels and a grocery store will soon be under construction in Palm Beach Gardens.
The sounds of construction at Avenir, located at Northlake and Coconut boulevards, are breathing new life into the rural area.
"It'll give the people a lot more to do, a lot more local, don’t have to travel far," Isi Middlebook told WPTV. "I think it's great."
Middlebrook visits her sister often, who lives in the nearby Ibis neighborhood.
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"I actually have three kids, young ones," she said. "If there's arcades, something close, you know good for the kids, that's always good, especially for these condominium apartments around here."
She's talking about the Avenir Town Center, a 51-acre centerpiece that can act as the downtown — not only for the 3,900 homes under construction in Avenir — but in the sprawling Acreage community nearby.
The town center will include restaurants, stores, hotels, apartments and more.
"What we do for a living is we create communities," Rosa Schechter with Avenir Properties said.
Schechter told WPTV they bought the land in 2012. She said the land use and zoning process took four years.
Permitting began in 2016 for the entire Avenir property. Fast forward to last week when the Palm Beach Gardens City Council approved the final plans for the town center.
"We are now going into the more detailed construction drawings so that we can pull a building permit and start building," Schechter said.
The first phase of the project is expected to be completed within the next two years and is likely to include a grocery store.
The property is zoned for 350,000 square feet of commercial use, 250 multi-family homes, 120,000 square feet of office space, 150 hotel rooms and public gathering spaces.
"That will organically make it so that people who today might go from this part of the world, to downtown Palm Beach Gardens or West Palm every day from here, or from Ibis or from Bay Hill," Schechter said. "Some of those folks in the morning are going to come here and work in the medical office spaces here and trips will be captured and traffic patterns will be reversed."
Beyond the town center, the property will also soon have 3,900 new homes of all sizes and price ranges.
This is coming at a time when Palm Beach County desperately needs more housing due to supply and demand issues, which experts say are contributing to a lack of affordable homes.
"We're not building fast enough," Dr. Ken Johnson, College of Business professor at Florida Atlantic University, said. "[There is a] very substantial demand side, and we're short on units in terms of home ownership and development."
"We intentionally located the town center on Northlake Boulevard because we knew that it would serve not just Avenir but the surrounding areas," Schechter said. "This whole area is growing."
That is leaving the community excited for what's to come.
"Everything going up new, especially with when you see it one way and then you come back and you go, 'Oh my gosh. Look at all this new stuff it brought to the community,'" Middlebrook said.
Location of new Avenir Town Center: