Monday, developers will present a new plan to redesign a Delray Beach historic district.
Renderings of the new “Midtown Delray Beach” offer a glimpse into the future. But Steven Michael said the goal of his company’s project is to preserve the past.
“Two houses will be in the exact same spot,” the founder of Hudson Holdings said while pointing at two historic homes on Swinton Avenue just south of Atlantic Avenue.
Michael’s original proposal, dubbed Swinton Commons, planned to relocate about eight historic homes one block south and east on Swinton Avenue to create a historic village.
His new plan, with its new “Midtown” name, keeps the historic buildings in generally the same location just south of Atlantic Avenue on the west side of Swinton. He’ll repurpose those buildings into coffee shops, restaurants, and other modern uses.
Then he’ll add new retail, restaurant, and offices space, plus condos along Atlantic Avenue and around the back/west side of the historic buildings. Plans even call for a hotel around the corner near SE 1st Street and SE 1st Avenue.
“There is an imaginary, dividing line at Swinton,” Michael explained. “Something needs to bring pedestrians and people from East Atlantic to West Atlantic and West Atlantic to East Atlantic. That is what this will do.”
Some groups and boards in Delray Beach have thrown support behind the project, with the hope it bridges that gap.
“I think it’s only going to spark more opportunities and more projects between Swinton Avenue and Interstate 95,” said Morris Crastarphen, a member of the West Atlantic Redevelopment Coalition who supports the project.
But when the city’s Historic Preservation Board takes its first look and votes on the project Monday, historical advocates will argue allowing changes within a district could create a precedent for drastic changes in other parts of town.
“The roads, the driveways, the plants, the other buildings; if you just go moving them around, you destroy the district,” explained JoAnn Peart, president of the Delray Beach Preservation Trust.
Ultimately it will be city commissioners who decide how to the project proceeds. They’re scheduled to get a formal presentation August 1.