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Concerns brewing over costs of downtown West Palm Beach Thoroughfare project

Posted at 5:54 PM, Feb 25, 2019
and last updated 2019-02-25 17:54:43-05

PALM BEACH COUNTY, Fla. — Dina Lauro calls her small shop in Riviera Beach her bread and vegan butter.

Lauro is the founder and CEO of Dina's Vegan Deli and Desserts.

"We wanted to see what the traffic would be like for a plant based deli," she said.

Lauro says so far business is good. But her shop is just a small part of her goal.

Recently, Lauro's business applied and won a competition to have a spot on Clematis. It's called the Thoroughfare and the plan is to give 12 local small businesses the opportunity to grow.

"Really is a kick off for new businesses to come in and plant themselves here," Sherryl Muriente said.

Muriente works for the Downtown Development Authority. The DDA along with the city applied and won a grant to fund the competition and help the business owners get started.

An empty building on the 300 block of Clematis was chosen to house the winners.

Right now the Community Redevelopment Agency is leasing the space from a private owner to reconstruct the inside, but the Executive Director of the CRA John Ward says because it's close to 100 years old construction could costs close to $2.5 million.

"It's a fairly standard practice we are redoing buildings all over downtown, incentivating folks to make these kinds of improvements," Ward said.

However, the recently formed Downtown West Palm Beach Hospitality Association, which is made up local business owners in the area is concerned about the amount going towards one project.

"There's also great concern that like any government projects that infringe into private sector that this project will go further and require more money in the end," Thierry Beaud, President of Downtown West Palm Beach Association said.

Lauro thinks once the project is complete others in the area will come around.

"I think they should be happy because we are going to bring a lot more traffic to the area," she said.