‘A big boost’: 25 acres in Delray Beach could be redeveloped with rental apartments, stores and more

Twenty-five acres in Delray Beach are poised for a face-lift, with room to possibly add hundreds of rental apartments, a hotel and new stores near a prominent part of the city.

The redevelopment could happen on Palm Beach County-owned land on the east side of Congress Avenue, 1,000 feet south of West Atlantic Avenue. This includes the county’s administrative complex at 345 S. Congress Avenue, and extends east from South Congress Avenue to Interstate 95.

The ultimate goal is to create more workforce housing, among other improvements, such as introducing new stores and redeveloping old retail, office and government space.

This map depicts the South County Administrative Complex in Delray Beach, which the county hopes to redevelop.

“There’s an appetite for building workforce housing and even … workforce retail to provide more affordable places for some of the businesses that have been kind of squeezed off of Atlantic Avenue and working toward developing Congress,” said Palm Beach County Commissioner Marci Woodward during a recent workshop. “It’s ripe for development.”

According to a study conducted to determine the highest and best uses of the site, the area could welcome:

  • At least 700 multifamily rental units.
  • A hotel with up to 125 rooms.
  • Up to 40,000 square feet of retail space.
  • Up to 80,000 square feet of government and office space.

Palm Beach County’s Facilities Development and Operations department provided a few different options for redevelopment, but county commissioners latched onto option one, which would allow the county to retain 14.2 acres of the site for governmental uses, leaving 10.4 acres for redevelopment and an allocation for 200 Tri-Rail parking spaces.

The project is still in its infancy, and no votes were taken to determine the fate of the project, but commissioners expressed support for the proposed affordable housing and retail options.

“That whole Congress corridor is just going to get a big boost from this, it’s an excellent idea, and I can’t wait to get started,” Vice Mayor Maria Sachs said during the meeting. “The county is ready, transportation is ready, private industry is ready.”

This map depicts the option for redevelopment that commissioners found most favorable for the parcel.
This map depicts the option for redevelopment that commissioners found most favorable for the parcel.

Development in Delray Beach continues to expand as the area anticipates projects such as a shipping container plaza, an 8-story multi-use building and a huge 49-acre project on Congress Avenue and Linton Boulevard that will feature more than 600 apartments and 400,000 square feet of restaurants, office and retail space.

The recent considerations come at a time when affordable housing shortages and rising rent and home interest prices are not going away any time soon.

Steve Michael, the principal for real estate company Banyan Group, told commissioners this site is the heart of Congress Avenue and could contribute greatly to furthering the “Live, Work, Play” concept in the city, a concept adopted in other cities in the county, including in Boca Raton.

“We would love to work with staff, work with consultants, and possibly find a solution that we can bring the workforce housing portion, or a portion of it, to market much quicker and not disrupt any of the existing services the county has and not disrupt the plan that has been created,” he said.

Government Law Group land use and development attorney Neil Schiller also expressed his support for the redevelopment efforts to the commissioners.

“Delray Beach is coming into its own right now, and if you’ve driven Congress Avenue, you’ll know how much TLC, really, this parcel needs,” he said.