Here's a tough one to analyze. On one hand, West Palm Beach's kitschy and charming Antique Row neighborhood will lose a building that's suited for the environment's décor, and on the other, a hazardous road condition could be improved. 412 Avenida Alegre, located behind the Dunkin' Donuts on 3501 S. Dixie Highway, was built in 1931 and from 2005 until February of this year was inhabited by Mary Johnson, was purchased by the Ocean 11 LLC, and could be torn down in favor of the doughnut shop's parking lot expansion plans.
This is the same shop that was witness last year to a police-involved shooting when Officer Gene Picerno, himself no stranger to legal troubles, fired a shot at a hammer-wielding suspect in the early hours of April 13. This is also the same neighborhood that saw former Supervisor of Elections Theresa "Madame Butterfly" LePore's brother Joseph pull a firearm on a taxi driver and police officer following an altercation concerning the use of his driveway as a u-turn site. Avenida Alegre is a dead end, and, as such, residents have long suffered the use of their driveways by Dunkin' Donuts' patrons.
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That last bit seems to be the heavy tipper for the need to expand the shop's parking area, as there don't seem to be enough spaces to accommodate the large morning volume they experience, and the shop's patrons, in the early blindness of coffee and sugary needs, disregard common sense and private parking of the properties down the happy avenue. This also compounds the existing troubles with access to Dixie Highway, which already suffers from vehicular visibility.
But when queried about the subject, people from most of the local businesses, who did not want to be officially quoted, were unable to report any kind of traffic situations arising in the intersection that made it a hazard, and even if there is such a cluster brewing, it seems isolated to the early hours on weekdays and affecting the residents of the road whose driveways see action. The Dunkin' Donuts, a privately owned franchise, was not exactly forthcoming with information regarding its expansion plans, and the owner failed to return our calls.
So one could conclude that tearing down the 83-year-old terra-cotta house is bad for the architectural look of the neighborhood, but since it is not a designated historic structure, the new owners have every right to do with it as they please. The proposed expansion will add about 11 spots to the restaurant's existing 12 and will certainly reduce the morning stress on the affected homeowners. As of today, West Palm Beach's Community Redevelopment Agency has not addressed our phone and email requests, but concerned parties should attend the July 10 zoning board of appeals hearing to see how this plays out.
After all, America runs on Dunkin', right?