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Business owners upset over eyesore in Northwood

Posted at 7:06 PM, Jul 14, 2017
and last updated 2017-07-14 19:07:10-04

Business owners in Northwood take pride in revamping the neighborhood from what it was.

But vacant buildings -- complete with unsightly hurricane shutters -- are upsetting some who say it's tearing down everything they're trying to build up.

The U.S. Postal service owns the two buildings, which have been vacant for seven years. The shutters have been up for almost as long.

"One of the things that's distracting from what we're trying to do here are those two buildings there," said Diane McKinnie, owner of Diane's Boutique.

McKinnie has run her boutique on Northwood Road for the past seven years.

"We're family oriented and we work together, help each other," she said of the camaraderie with fellow businesses in the area.

With recent growth and attention being brought to Northwood over the last two years, the business owners fear this could harm this neighborhood's charm.

"It's a blight to the block, it's hurting businesses. When people walk by it looks like an abandoned building," said Matthew Chambers, who owns Day By Day boutique next door to McKinnie.

The buildings used to be a package center and a bookstore but they've sat vacant for years. Some say it's reminiscent of Northwood's past.

"You should have been here eight years ago, trust me. Those shutters on that building are nothing to how that street looked," said Star Robinson, owner of Hello Cupcake.

This, in the midst of shops, restaurants and boutiques.

"The rules are you're supposed to have some kind of display in the window with a light. The city has fined them. They came in and inspected multiple times, gave them many times to fix it. Now they're fining them $100 a day since March 4, and still nothing has been done about it," said Chambers.

Area businesses have even teamed up to meet with the post master general but they didn't get what they were looking for.

"They decided that they weren't going to rent them or sell them. They know that we're trying to make the place better so I don't know why," said McKinnie.

According to city code, buildings must follow ordinances pertaining to attractive window displays. Boarding up of windows on downtown buildings are also prohibited. Chambers provided a slip from the city detailing the violations of the buildings.

"We're all trying to stay in compliance by putting displays in the window, putting lights on at night and a federal government building doesn't do that," he said.

As Northwood continues to grow, businesses owners are hoping the buildings can at least be rented out or sold.

'I know the city of West Palm Beach has done their job. Now we need the federal government to do their job," said Chambers.

Chambers and McKinnie said they have continued to press the U.S. Postal Service since their last meeting with an post office official two year ago but have gotten nothing but silence.

WPTV put in calls to the USPS media representatives for comment but have not heard back. A representative responded saying they were gathering more information on the property from the facilities department.