Tomorrow - Saturday, March 23 - the long-awaited Delray Marketplace will open on West Atlantic Avenue in Delray Beach. While most of the action in Delray is to be found in the quaint but bustling downtown area in the eastern most part of town, civilization has been slowly pushing itself westward.
This weekend Delray Marketplace will finally be opening and they are doing so with quite the fanfare - a veritable circus.
While you might be thinking that South Florida needs another shopping plaza like it needs a hole in the head, the Marketplace is part of a new generation of plazas. Unlike the old strip malls that dot the tropical landscape like unsightly scars, these new enclaves are more like the centers of little towns unto themselves.
Instead of being in a straight line along the roadway with all of the parking out front and the stores set way back, the plazas have the parking woven throughout. The design allows for walkways, outside dining, and seating areas that are protected from the busy street. No more breathing exhaust fumes from cars whizzing by as you toast your sweetie.
If you have ever been to the Promenade at Coconut Creek
, you know what we're talking about. The Delray Marketplace will feature a Publix Supermarket, a Frank Theatres IMAX CineBowl & Grille, an Apricot Lane Boutique, a Bella Amici Pizzeria, and the list goes on.
Still not everyone was thrilled about the new retail space. In fact, the 254,686 sq. ft. "dining, entertainment, and shopping destination" sits on what used to be farmland and there were residents who wanted it to stay that way. They made their feelings known on comment boards and at town meetings. But GL Homes has been steadily chipping away at the Ag Reserve Land out west for years, and all the families in those single family homes need places to shop and things to do.
"Delray Marketplace fills a huge void for the west Delray area as residents no longer have to deal with the hassle of traveling east to enjoy dining, entertainment and shopping options," said Amy Ferguson, General Manager of Delray Marketplace. "In addition, the center is providing a major boost to the local economy. During construction alone, the center employed about 1,500 workers, and we expect to create an additional 900 ongoing jobs."
Tomorrow the Delray Marketplace will host an official grand opening party, "Le Cirque Delray" from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. The circus-themed events will feature live music in the amphitheater, kids activities, food samplings, and entertainment.
From 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. you will find the Florida Panthers Mascot "Stanley C. Panther," the Devil Stick Performers, the Fort Lauderdale High School Marching Band, bounce houses, and face painting.
From 4 to 7 p.m. there will be an atmospheric contortionist, mimes, acrobats, living statues, stilt walkers, and jugglers - they are really taking the theme seriously.
"We're looking forward to the official grand opening celebration on March 23," said Ferguson. "The community has been very patient during construction, so we're excited to be able to show our appreciation and celebrate the long-awaited opening of Delray Marketplace."
Whether you welcome the new Marketplace or wish it was still rolling farmland, it's here now. Perhaps, Ferguson and her team will consider a weekend farmers' market?
The Delray Marketplace is located at 9025 W. Atlantic Ave. Delray Beach. Call 561-865-4613, or visit delraymarket.com