Apartments opposed by road weary neighbors
A developer plans 132 units near the traffic-plagued intersection of Gandy Boulevard and Dale Mabry Highway.
By SHERRI DAY
Published October 14, 2005
A West Palm Beach developer plans to transform a former landfill south of Gandy Boulevard into a moderately priced apartment community.
In their pitch to the Gandy Civic Association Monday night, representatives from the Richman Group of Florida said the 132-unit development would be an oasis for renters in a real estate market crowded with condo conversions and high-priced houses. The development would have mostly two- to four-bedroom apartments with monthly rents of $900 to $1,600.
While they did not vote to support or oppose the project, civic association members balked at the developer's plans for addressing traffic.
According to the developer's designs, the Harbor Pointe apartment complex will sit between railroad tracks and the rear of Sam's Club and Home Depot on S Dale Mabry Highway. Renters would enter through the stores' parking lots to a small road that winds behind the stores and leads to the gated community.
Richman Group representatives plan to ask the City Council to rezone the property to accommodate its transportation plan at a hearing set for 6 p.m. Thursday at City Hall. The developer entered into a contract to buy the property earlier this year, said Michael D. Horner, who represents the developer.
"There's a provision in the zoning code that says multifamily must own their own access (road), which we think is crazy," Horner said. "Home Depot doesn't want to sell because it's part of their parking lot. We're asking the city to recognize that easement to not make us buy it."
The plot of land is zoned for commercial use. Several years ago, Home Depot granted the use of its northwest access road to the future developer of the neighboring property, Horner said.
If the project gets approval, traffic officials expect to close a left-turn lane on Dale Mabry Highway just north of Ballast Point Boulevard. A new traffic light at Ballast Point Boulevard and Dale Mabry should keep traffic flowing smoothly, the developer said. Renters could also use other Home Depot driveways.
The developer's traffic engineers said their studies show that the project will not have a negative impact on neighborhood roads.
But association members said the plan will worsen gridlock.
"You guys need to go back to the drawing board," association member Vivian Hart said. "Because what you put on paper, we can tell you from experience that it's not going to work."
Eileen Malo worried that adding more residents without shoring up roadways could create a bottleneck in case of an emergency evacuation.
"Those of us back here are stuck because Gandy is just miles and miles of backup," she said. "We don't stand a chance of getting out of here."
A former landfill, the 12.9-acre site has had numerous incarnations since the dump closed in the 1960s. Most recently, developers flirted with turning it into a golf driving range. The property includes about 2 acres of protected wetlands.
Although the site seems destined for apartments, civic association president Mike Hursey has another idea for the property.
"I'd rather see commercial in there," he said. "At least you'd have jobs in the South."
If the council approves the rezoning, Horner said construction would likely begin within six months.
- Sherri Day can be reached at 226-3405 or email@example.com
[Last modified October 13, 2005, 08:20:12]
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