Redevelopment Project On Swinton Avenue Begins Making Its Way Through City Boards

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Staff report

Some call it the project that will bridge east and west downtown Delray. Others say it is too dense for a historic district of the city.

Residents recently received a glimpse of Delray Beach-based developer Hudson Holdings’ plans for a redevelopment project that has gone by the names Swinton Commons, Midtown Delray and previously Sundy Lane.

The project was discussed several months ago where Hudson Holdings principal Steve Michael asked for feedback on the project from the city’s historic preservation board.

He said during a recent Community Redevelopment Agency meeting that he has addressed some of the concerns that were raised. The biggest concern expressed from city board members and residents were plans to relocate several historic structures.

The project involves the redevelopment of more than 6 acres that stretch from Atlantic Avenue to the north, Southwest First Avenue to the west, Southeast First Avenue to the east and includes properties along the south side of Southeast and Southwest First Streets. The location is one of the city’s historically significant downtown areas, the Old School Square Historic District.

The project plans to add a 110-room hotel, residential inns with two and three bedrooms, restaurants, boutiques, offices underground parking, a pedestrian streetscape and an adaptive re-use of several historic buildings like the Cathcart House and Rectory building. Developers say now they don’t plan on relocating as many structures as previously proposed and they will remain on the current block where they are located and not moved to another area.

The development team estimates the project will create nearly 1,700 jobs during construction, provide 400 full-time, permanent jobs, generate $6.4 million in sales tax and increase property revenue in the area to $2.5 million.

The project will eliminate the check cashing store and surface parking lots and through the proposed underground parking, developers say they will triple the amount of parking currently available.

The developers also say they think the project will be a catalyst for additional private investment in the area, specifically when it comes to historic preservation. To help, the developer proposes creating a “Future Grant Fund,” which will financially assist homeowners who own contributing historic structures in the West Atlantic districts like Frog Alley, west Settlers Historic District and Old School Square Historic District with restorations and improvements. The developer said it would initially fund $100,000.

Additionally, the developers also said they want to install historic markers at historic buildings to help educate the significance of the structures.

During construction, the developers said they want to prepare an inventory of salvable historic materials and use them in new or relocated structures. Materials will be stored for 10 years for future reuse.

Despite changing how many historic structures will be moved, residents still expressed concerns about the project.

“History happens where it happens,” resident Claudia Willis said about the historic structures.

Chairman of the agency board Reggie Cox said the concerns he heard from residents are not new.

The board decided it was too premature to make any formal decision on the project. The developers will continue making presentations to city advisory boards and wait to receive a technical review from city staff.

The project has been in the works for several years. In 2014, Hudson Holdings requested the city broaden its rules on what can be built in the historic district as a way to breathe new life into the neighborhood. The request narrowly passed in a 3-2 vote with Mayor Cary Glickstein and Commissioner Shelly Petrolia casting the dissenting votes.