DELRAY BEACH, FL. – Delray Beach’s thriving Atlantic Avenue will gain a major new destination with the announcement this week of a joint venture between CDS International Holdings, Inc. (CDS) and the Edwards Companies to develop a four-city-block, best-of-class mixed-use development along East Atlantic Avenue. Carl DeSantis, vitamin entrepreneur and international investor, and Jeff Edwards, president of the Edwards Companies, a third-generation, family-owned company with rich development experience, announced this week that an agreement establishing a joint venture partnership for the development was in the works. The approximately 9-acre development will be located along Delray Beach’s “Main & Main” — Atlantic Avenue and Federal Highway (N.E. 6th Avenue) — immediately adjacent to the City’s historic Veterans Park and the Intracoastal Waterway. CDS and the Edwards Companies have taken the first step in unveiling this bold plan by submitting preliminary plans to the City to modify the existing approvals for the development. Edwards advised, “If all goes as expected in the approval process, we are optimistic that we’ll put our first shovels in the ground and begin construction prior to year-end.” With an estimated construction cost of nearly $200 million, plans for the development call for both for-rent and for-sale residential units as well as commercial space, comprised of premier retail shops and restaurants, plus the City’s first Class A office space to meet the growing demand along the Atlantic Avenue corridor. Edwards explained that creating new options for working
and living in downtown will support and enhance the existing downtown retail and restaurant business, as well as providing a bridge to solidify downtown with the beach. Bill Milmoe, president of CDS, said, “The Edwards organization is an ideal partner for this project, with financial strength, a strong commitment and sensitivity to the unique qualities of Delray Beach and a truly outstanding track record of building successful urban in-fill developments across the country.” “Over a dozen national and international developers wanted to partner with us on this project,” said Carl DeSantis, “but we selected the Edwards group because we found them to be outstanding in just so many respects.” DeSantis continued, “We could not have picked a more accomplished development partner who has the sensitivity to honor Delray’s unique characteristics and style, and we are ready to finalize our plans and agreements to commence building this great development.” The Edwards Companies have history of developing successful mixed-use projects,including the award winning nine-block Neighborhood Launch area in Columbus, Ohio as well as approximately 30,000 residences and many retail and office developments in over 28 cities across the country.
“Downtown Delray Beach is a national success story,” said Edwards. “As downtown’s eastern gateway, this site is a rare opportunity to create something special for the City and its residents. We intend to make it a gathering place and source of pride for the community, and to develop it with respect for the City’s character as the ‘Village by the Sea’.” Edwards, whose national development company is headquartered in Columbus, Ohio, has family roots in the Delray Beach area. Joining CDS and the Edwards Companies in the project’s development will be Bill Morris, a Delray Beach resident and local developer for nearly 25 years, who recently completed “Worthing Place” in downtown Delray Beach, and urban planner and landscape architect Mike Covelli. Both Morris and Covelli will play an ongoing role on the development team, ensuring the project remains consistent with the ideals and character of Delray Beach. The redevelopment’s first phase stretches from N.E. 6th Ave. east to N.E. 7th Ave. and includes upscale rental residences, plus ground floor retail and restaurants topped by two levels of Class A office space along Atlantic Avenue. A pedestrian-friendly shopping arcade will link the buildings.
According to Vin Nolan, Economic Development Director for the City of Delray Beach and the Community Redevelopment Authority (CRA), the development will have a significant and positive impact on the community. “It closes the gap along Federal Highway at Atlantic Avenue, and brings a mix of uses including the Class A office that is in demand, but lacking in the central core today.” Nolan noted that the development is consistent with the City’s and CRA’s goals of strengthening the local economy, and may be candidate for certain economic incentive funds available through the CRA for infrastructure improvements and from the City for high value job creation. Mayor Woodie McDuffie said, “This site, well developed, can be a big plus for Delray Beach, increasing the tax base and finally bringing this part of our downtown to life. It’s the Atlantic Avenue ‘connector’ we need, and adds the Class A office space we’ve wanted in the downtown for more than a decade. To have a project of this scope moving through the review process in this challenging economy is a very positive sign for the City’s future.”
Highlights of the project include: • Varied design, from traditional architectural vernacular to modern style, in buildings that range from one to five stories, all designed with on-site parking. • A streetscape that integrates the new development with Atlantic Avenue and creates an inviting, seamless pedestrian experience and generous open public spaces, plus access to the adjacent Veterans Park, which is slated for revitalization by the City. • Signature features that celebrate Delray’s special environment, including a possible aquarium, botanical displays, “living walls” and the City’s first “green roof” buildings. Edwards said the partnership expects to submit a full site plan in August, and looks forward to working with City leaders and the community to make the development “an asset to Delray Beach’s tax base, and to its quality of life.” CDS’ original plans for the redevelopment, which were prepared with extensive community input, gained City approval in 2009. “It’s important that we get this right on every level, so we revisited the plan and looked to improve it everywhere we could. The major components are the same, but with less building mass and lower traffic impacts. The plan also keeps 7th Avenue straight, thereby maintaining the City’s historic street grid intact – the one area that concerned residents about the original plan,” Edwards said.
He noted that the Edwards Companies is a vertically integrated development firm with the full scope of development expertise, from in-house architecture to construction, to provide efficient and effective execution of development and construction. “As a company, we have a great deal of experience, in-house expertise and commitment to success. After all is said and done, we put our own capital in projects as long term investors, so we are committed to this project’s success at every level and for the long-term,” Edwards concluded.