“Adaptive Reuse” Planned for Sundy Historic Buildings

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By Caryn Stumpfl The Pineapple Contributing Writer In early July, part of the development team of real estate developer Hudson Holdings LLC submitted a “sketch up” and relocation plan to the city of Delray Beach regarding certain historic buildings they own and intend to move. They also plan a few private presentations to the Delray Beach Historic Preservation Board and others this month. One of the owners of the Sundy House and other historic cottages and buildings along Swinton Avenue, including the Rectory, Hudson Holdings plans “an adaptive reuse that’s sustainable for these historic homes, not just moving them,” according to Steven Michael, principal, Hudson Holdings. Four local cottages in total will be moved, including two to the Sundy House property to be used as additional hotel space, and two will be moved across the street to Hudson Holdings’ proposed Rectory Park (formerly called Sundy House Village), a sustainable adaptive use of historic buildings that will be turned into retail and restaurant space, across the street from the Sundy House on Swinton. “By creating an adaptive reuse, it will stimulate further historic preservation,” Michael said. “If the structure is moved, it can be used again.” According to Michael, Hudson Holdings specializes in downtown historic adaptive reuse of properties and is dedicated to historic preservation, with other major, multi-million-dollar projects in Cleveland (the former Huntington Bank/historic Union Trust Building), Louisville (the Starks Building and the old Louisville Water Company building) and locally with the historic Gulfstream Hotel, once referred to as the “Jewel of Lake Worth” and on the National Register of Historic Places. Hudson Holdings is currently giving the Gulfstream Hotel a multi-million dollar facelift. “Adaptive reuse of historic properties is what we do. As a firm, that’s our passion. That’s part of almost every project we do.… it’s our niche,” said Michael, whose company is also one of the biggest movers of historic structures in Delray Beach. Michael’s company, headquartered in Delray Beach with a regional office in Louisville, is in pre-development for both the Sundy House/Rectory Park project and its Midtown project, a proposed $120 million, two-story shopping, dining, hotel and entertainment complex on Atlantic Avenue between Swinton Avenue and Southwest First Avenue and along the west side of Swinton Avenue from Atlantic Avenue to Southwest First Street. The end result will be a “much less driven and more walkable, pedestrian-friendly downtown,” Michael said about the proposed downtown complex. Hudson Holdings conducted two separate surveys of area residents who live between I-95 and Federal Highway, and along and nearby Atlantic Avenue, and received input from the city multiple times, according to Michael, and promises to build something that complements the historic district. “The biggest thing we learned from the survey is that nobody ever asked these residents before what they wanted,” Michael said. “We’re reaching out to the community and to the historic preservation people. We want their input and want to work with them,” he said. “We’re keeping the buildings’ historic features and are bringing the buildings back to their original state.” Downtown Development Authority (DDA) Associate Director Laura Simon said that the DDA supplied Hudson Holdings with some demographic information and data on the downtown businesses (what is already there and what is still needed). “There have been some growing pains in that area (west of Swinton),” Simon said. The Hudson Holdings project “will be a good connection for us to keep moving west.” According to Michael, Midtown will be a pedestrian-friendly, mixed-use retail complex featuring a 120-room boutique hotel (most likely a Hilton property), 110,000 square feet of upscale retail stores and restaurants, 60,000 square feet of office space and 15 condos, as well as open green space and public areas for impromptu music and entertainment, similar to Lincoln Road Mall in Miami Beach. Acting as the mid-point to the downtown area, Midtown will help connect the restaurant and retail area east of Swinton with the western area. “It will be a public gathering spot. The focus will be on making Midtown more of a lifestyle center and public area, bringing people into the high density district,” said Michael. “It’s how great cities start with music, entertainment and the arts.” Midtown also will “be an extraordinary benefit to the tax base, helping to create local jobs in construction,” Michael mentioned, indicating the project would create approximately 400-500 new good paying jobs. “The design will be consistent with the look and feel of other Delray Beach projects in the small ‘Village by the Sea’ style,” he explained. Regarding the surveys about the Midtown project, “Responses were overwhelmingly favorable,” he indicated. Some of the businesses the surveyed residents wanted to see included in the Midtown development are: book stores, bakeries, boutiques/clothing stores, coffee shops and health and nutrition companies. The project will be “livable and sustainable,” Michael said, attracting millennials and young empty nesters. In addition to the retail establishments, the company will be building a 700-car underground parking garage. “It will be the closest garage to the Downtown area,” he added. On the north side of Swinton in the Old School Square historic area, historic preservation and adaptive reuse has already begun but the “south end has had a lot of struggles and adaptive reuse is underutilized,” Michael said. Both the Midtown and Rectory Park project will begin to remedy that situation. “By moving the historic residences and converting them into retail businesses (shops, a tea house, garden center, law firm, etc.), the homes will become sustainable,” he said. “The adaptive reuse will spur preservation and the refurbishing of older homes all over the area. The historic buildings will still be landmarks … just in a slightly new location.” Unlike other developers, principals Steven Michael and Andrew “Avi” Greenbaum live and work in Delray Beach. “We’re long-term investors … we live here and plan to stay here. Our kids go to school here. Everything we build, we will manage,” said Michael. “By making a big investment in Delray, there will be a Renaissance in the area, and we’ll make it even better to live here. Just because it’s already great doesn’t mean it can’t be more livable.” Their goal is to enhance the Downtown and ultimately bring back local retail businesses. “This is an important investment to spur preservation and attract more investors.” The company’s timetable for the project began three years ago and will continue over the long term, allowing for the approval, site development, rezoning and construction. They will not build in phases but will launch all at the same time in about two and a half years. The company plans to continue to hold meetings with local citizens and community groups, city planning and zoning, the city commissioners and the historic preservation board and make them part of the planning process, Michael reiterated. Last spring, Hudson Holdings set up a series of meetings regarding their site and relocation plans. They’ve also been busy working out the complex engineering needed for a subterranean garage. “It will become the crown and make the center of town sparkle,” said Michael about the Midtown project. “It will invigorate South Swinton,” he said. “This part of the historic district is tired. We’re going to make it alive.” The historic Sundy House also will undergo a renovation along with the nearby Cathcart House (38 South Swinton), built in 1902, which will be moved to the south side of the Sundy House and turned into a cocktail and kava bar and a catering/ballroom area for weddings and banquets. Hudson Holdings is already in the process of adding two additional historic cottages to be used as hotel rooms, and will be expanding the botanical gardens and renovating the restaurant. “We want to share our plans with area residents. We believe they’ll embrace it and be excited about it,” said Michael. “We think it will improve our lifestyle and not take away from it. The public’s inclusion is critical to our plans.” Keep reading future issues of The Pineapple for updates on the proposed Hudson Holdings’ projects and responses from the city commissioners, Planning and Zoning Department and Historic Preservation Board members.