City Council Approves Zoning Change to Move Arcadia Gardens Project Forward

Palm Beach Post
Sarah Peters, Palm Beach Post Staff Writer
Posted Dec 11, 2018 at 6:14 PM
Updated Dec 12, 2018 at 11:41 AM

Arcadia Gardens is a $60 million project to build 220 apartments for “active adults” 55 and older. The apartments will be on RCA Boulevard across from Legacy Place.

PALM BEACH GARDENS — A 55-and-older community of 220 luxury apartments is in the works for the Amara Shrine Center property.

The city council tentatively approved plans to convert the commercial property into a residential one. The state must sign off on the plans before council can grant final approval, Planning & Zoning Director Natalie Crowley said.

RELATED: Apartments for ‘active adults’ 55+ planned at Shriners in Gardens

The community, called Arcadia Gardens, will include bocce courts, croquet, a community garden, a dog park, pickleball courts and a passive park. United Group of Companies and Sina Companies are the co-owners and co-developers of the $60 million project.

RELATED: $60M project for 220 senior apartments up for approval in Gardens

The developers will give the city $550,000 for workforce housing, said planner Anne Booth, a principal with Urban Design Kilday Studios.

One resident, echoed by a councilman, is concerned about traffic. The councilman, Carl Woods, added that he’s worried the city is growing more than residents want.

Peter Banting, a resident of Monet Ridge Road, pointed out that RCA Boulevard narrows to two lanes between Alternate A1A to Prosperity Farms Road. He asked the staff and developers to consider what they can do to help traffic flow to the east, particularly drivers whose view is obscured by a tall power line if they’re turning left onto RCA Boulevard from Fairchild Gardens Road.

“With more traffic on it (RCA Boulevard), it’s going to be a safety issue,” Banting said.

Palm Beach County controls the road and won’t allow improvements unless the traffic warrants it, Crowley said. It doesn’t justify changes, based on a traffic study.

Woods said he’s getting concerned about development on “every additional little piece of land.”

“What if the Moose Lodge sells? Somebody’s going to be putting something else up there. I like the ideas, but we do want to look at growth and what the community wants, and I know the community doesn’t want to have something on every single piece of land,” Woods said. “I don’t think the community as a whole is wanting to have RCA or anything else start to look (like) what Hood Road’s turned into.”

Councilwoman Rachelle Litt said the plans are in line with the city’s long-term plan.

“While many of the residents would like all building in the city to stop, when you’re dealing with private property, the developer has the right to build on that property,” she said, “and it’s our job to make sure that the proposed development makes sense for the city and is compatible with the surrounding area.”

Without a change in zoning, the property owner could develop 383,000 square feet of retail, office, restaurant and other commercial space, Booth said.

Instead, the 11-acre property is set to become 220 apartments with no assisted living or medical services and no hefty buy-in fee, she said. Initially, the developers projected rents of $2,500 per month, but they need to take additional costs into consideration.

The developers proposed fewer apartments than allowed, Booth said. They own and manage more than 15 similar communities and find that as more people move in, they use their cars less. They do activities using the community bus, she said.

Residents can walk to the hospital, courthouse, college, city hall, mall and other shopping destinations, Mayor Maria Marino said.

“This really is the urban core of Palm Beach Gardens,” she said. “You’re going to see more density in this area because this is where the transit-oriented development is going to be. This is where the services are provided.”