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Concerns over plans to revitalize The Mall at Wellington Green

Posted at 6:48 PM, Oct 03, 2019
and last updated 2019-10-03 18:48:13-04

WELLINGTON, Fla. - — The Mall at Wellington Green has been struggling to survive in the age of online shopping, but now the mall’s owners are unveiling a new vision to save its bottom line, which is drawing strong reactions.

“It was very upsetting to me on many levels as an environmentalist and as a mother,” said Nicole DeFlorio, who lives in the village.

DeFlorio’s son is in the fourth grade at Elbridge Gale Elementary. She’s concerned more development at the mall means more overcrowding at her son’s school.

“They’re already over capacity, they’re at 105% capacity on the district capacity watch list, so where are the children going to go if they move into that community?” she said.

Starwood Retail Partners LLC submitted a plan this week to demolish the empty Nordstrom location, and build 700 apartments, a 150-room hotel and 22,000 square feet of restaurant space. The project would also include a 3.5 acre Crystal Lagoon, which will be open to the public.

“They have to find a way to bring people into it, otherwise we will be facing a project that’s not economically viable,” said Village Manager Paul Schofield. “It’s interesting thinking, but it’s too early in the process to tell you where we are going to be on it.”

Schofield says Starwood is thinking outside the box since the mall’s value dropped this year by $70-million.

A separate plan to plow over the preserves next to the mall has generated outrage in the past few weeks, and DeFLORIO says enough is enough.

“I’m also concerned about traffic. Anybody who goes up and down Forest Hill Boulevard in the morning and school pickup knows it’s a nightmare.”

The Palm Beach County School District says right now nothing is on the table for a new school in Wellington, but there are three future school sites in the Western communities, including the Acreage.

The concept for the mall is in the very early stages, and there will be several months of public hearings so everyone can have their say.