The downtown West Palm Beach site, at 200 Second Street, will feature rental apartments, a waterfront hotel, apartment units, retail space, public park and restaurant. (West Palm Beach Community Redevelopment Agency/Courtesy)
Construction is expected to begin Thursday on a $145 million waterfront development in West Palm Beach, at the site of the former City Hall.
The downtown site — a full city block on Second Street between Flagler and Olive drives — will feature a 208-room Marriott hotel; 251 apartment units; 20,234 square feet of retail space; a 7,000-square-foot restaurant space with both indoor and outdoor dining; and 7,000 square feet of office space.
Jon Ward, executive director of the West Palm Beach Community Redevelopment Agency, said this was a coveted piece of land that will expand the downtown zone past Clematis Street.
“Sometimes when you have the most popular destination, it tends to dominate your foot traffic on the street,” said Ward, who is also senior redevelopment associate for RMA, a redevelopment management company.
That traffic tends to go to Clematis Street, he said, and the “streets north and south don’t get the kind of attention and visitation they deserve. We have a beautiful waterfront along Flagler, but a lot of people don’t go north on Olive except for business. This development will be a catalyst for creating a tremendous amount of foot traffic heading north from the Clematis corridor.”
The 435,000-square-foot, eight-story project is expected to be completed by 2019. It also will have a 483-space parking garage, public park, event lawn for weddings and receptions, and observation deck with views of the marina and Intracoastal Waterway.
Ward said the idea is to make the new waterfront development more of an “experience” for shoppers.
“Retail in general is changing in the entire country,” he said. That means “finding ways to make your public space more for people and less for cars” and make the destinations “inviting and sticky, so people want to stick around.”
“There’s more to it than just buying something,” he added. So, “all downtowns are a work in progress. That’s the nature of redevelopment.”
In 2016, the city approved the sale of the 3.5-acre former City Hall site, at 200 Second St., to developer Navarro Lowrey for $11.5 million. City Hall was moved into West Palm Beach’s City Center, which opened in April 2009.
In addition to the redevelopment on the former City Hall site, other downtown projects are underway, including improvements such as wider sidewalks, more shade trees and additional dining and seating at the 300 block of Clematis Street. That work is scheduled to begin in June. The 300 block of the back alleys between Clematis and Datura streets will also be linked this fall.