Delray Beach still trying to beef up west side

DELRAY BEACH, Fla. - Was Thursday night's party on Delray Beach's Atlantic Ave. the same old West Side story, of unfulfilled hope?

"We usually don't come this far down," said Mike Blann of Delray Beach. "Most of the action is east of here."

When Claudia CaPasso opened her West Atlantic shoe store three months back - because she couldn't afford to open on the east side - she knew she was banking on tomorrow.

"For now, it's pretty hard to get people to come this way," said CaPasso.

But Thursday, restaurants and streets on the west side full.

Spurred by two events called "Tastemakers" and "On the Ave," Delray's economic development teams are trying to beef up the image of Atlantic Avenue's "other" half.

"I think West Atlantic is at a tipping point right now," said Stephanie Immelmen of the Delray Beach Marketing Cooperative. "The investment is coming in. There's going to be a hotel coming in. We have a beautiful new gateway feature that just came in. These streets have been developed and they're beautiful."

There was a lot of action Thursday, but the city's challenge in marketing the area is becomes much more clear the further west you walk.

The closer you get to 95, the more run down buildings and vacant lots you see.

For neighborhood leaders, special events and talk of development only go so far.

They want projects slated for properties like these to finally get done.

"I'm tired of talking about it, I'm tired of hearing about it," said Joycelyn Patrick of the Northwest-Southwest Neighborhood Alliance. "It's time to put words into action."

While the CRA waits for new plans from developers, marketing folks - and people who have staked their livelihoods on the success of this neighborhood - certainly didn't mind leaving the lights on late tonight for the new foot traffic.

"Hopefully they'll be more boutiques and more little restaurants that everybody can go to and be affordable and fun," said CaPasso.

The On the Ave event was one night only, but Tastemakers continues Friday night as well.

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