Commissioners to consider settlement agreement with Atlantic Crossing

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By: Marisa Gottesman
Associate Editor

A long legal battle with Edwards Cos., the developers behind Delray’s Atlantic Crossing, may come to an end on Tuesday.

Delray Beach commissioners are scheduled to consider voting on a settlement agreement with the developers.

If approved, the federal and state lawsuit filed by the developers against the city will be dropped, according to the agreement.

The eight page settlement agreement outlines a timeline for the city to follow in approving certain administrative requirements like certifying a final plat.

In exchange for the commission settling, the developers have agreed to provide a two-way ingress, egress drive from the project’s central core at NE 7th Ave. to US-1 and change the location of an entrance into one of the parking garages.

“We are pleased to again work with the City to make Atlantic Crossing the downtown destination point of Delray Beach,” said Edwards Cos. COO Dean Kissos. “It was disappointing that our previous effort to provide additional access, as recommended by City consultants, did not achieve City approval last year.  We hope this new plan will earn City support, enabling the City and Edwards to conclude all litigation.”

The road is what caused a roadblock in the project.

Commissioners requested the developers add a road to ease traffic concerns raised by neighbors.

City staff and the city’s site plan review and appearance board recommended keeping the project the same because adding a road could possibly create more traffic issues like accidents and gridlock.

Commissioners still pressed the developers for the road.

The idea of the road dates back to a previous version of the project, which included an east-west road link between two buildings in the project called Atlantic Court. That project was not officially adopted by the commission. The approved project did not include the once-proposed road.

In an effort to satisfy the commission, the developers proposed two road options. The first option would add a two-way street in and out of the development. The second would add a one-way westbound road that connects Northeast Seventh Avenue to Northeast Sixth Avenue.

Commissioners had agreed to go with the option recommended by an independent firm. Traffic engineering experts from Simmons & White stated the two-way street has the potential to create more accidents and congestion that spills out on Atlantic Avenue and the adjacent roadways.

They recommended the one-way option, stating it increases the accessibility to the site, limits the amount of cars creating a back up on Atlantic Avenue and has less of an impact on surrounding neighborhoods, including the Marina Historic District.

Despite the promise to go with what was recommended by the firm, the road was rebuffed by commissioners and a legal battle ensued.

The road in the settlement would be a two-way road. The developers also agree to changing the location of one of the entrances to a parking garage.

“This new proposed settlement to be considered by the City secures our property rights, provides the City with the additional access point it feels is important, and formalizes a clear path to resolve the lawsuits and allow development of a project that will be great for the City,” Kissos said. “This settlement, however, will require the support of the City, its staff and the community at large. Obtaining the final approvals for Atlantic Crossing’s approved plan has been a lengthy, unnecessarily delayed process. Edwards remains committed to putting the litigation behind us and focusing on realizing this site’s tremendous potential. We look forward to working with the City to see that the process runs smoothly, and to getting Atlantic Crossing underway.”

The topic will be up for a vote at 6 p.m. Tuesday in City Hall.