Broward and Palm Beach Counties are filled with cities that are known for different things.
Palm Beach is known for luxury and wealth; Fort Lauderdale is appreciated by Spring Breakers and heavy drinkers across the world; Hollywood is recognized for its strange residents and snowbirds -- it's called Hollyweird for a reason; Delray Beach, on the other hand, is best known for its profusion of great restaurants and, well, just about anything pertaining to food.
While it's already a world-class gourmet haven, it's about to get even more options.
Late Wednesday, Delray Beach City Commissioners approved extending the eastern corridor of Atlantic Avenue with a mixed use center -- that includes eateries -- called Atlantic Crossing.
See Also: Ten Best Restaurants in Delray Beach
The center, which is set to take over a nine acre portion of land at that extends along Atlantic Avenue from Federal Highway to Veterans Park, has been designed to be a mixed used pedestrian and bicycle friendly space mixing residential units with shops, restaurants, and offices.
The plans currently call for the addition of five or six dining establishments.
Potential occupants have expressed interest; however, none have been able to move forward before the commissioners decision on Wednesday.
"There's been strong retail and restaurant leasing interest, based on Delray's appeal and the uniqueness of this particular location and mixed-use setting," says Don DeVere, VP of Mixed-Use Development for The Edwards Companies. "Instead of a handful of large users dominating the space, we're looking at diverse specialty shops and restaurants that are a good fit for Delray. Local and regional merchants will be in the mix, plus retailers who'll add new dimension to Downtown. Overall, there is 76,000 square feet of retail/restaurant space with plans for 6 restaurants and likely around 15 shops, depending on retailers' square footage needs."
Developers are currently forecasting a time frame of four years to get the center up and running; however, construction is expected to begin in the second quarter of this year.
Retail and restaurant space will be included in the first phase of construction.
While critics argued that the center would impede upon the village feel of the city by bringing an onslaught of traffic to the area, the goal of the developers and those associated with the project is to bring life back to the eastern portion of Atlantic Ave.
"Atlantic Crossing revitalizes the east end of Atlantic Avenue with a 'distinctly Delray' mixed-use destination," says DeVere. "People who live, work, and visit here will enjoy walk-to-everything-convenience and the energy, eclectic charm, and city life that's evolved naturally in Downtown Delray."
While initial renderings put together sets of matching buildings, after careful debate and consideration, the plans were changed to mimic the eclectic nature of Delray Beach with diverse architecture.
"The plan from the start was to keep Atlantic Crossing authentic to Delray while adding some new dimensions to the existing Downtown that people love," says DeVere. "It will have the feel of a place that's evolved here over many years, with each building in a different, Delray-inspired architectural style, generous public spaces and parking hidden from view."
The development plans to include ample yet unobtrusive parking in underground lots off to the side. While the lots will be metered, plans call for a validated systems that allows shops and restaurants to offer free parking to customers.
Valet parking will also be offered.
Follow Sara Ventiera on Twitter, @saraventiera.
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