breaking news

Special primary to replace Jeff Clemens to cost taxpayers $1 million

Big retailers would be lucrative to downtown Delray, but are they welcome?

DELRAY BEACH — Downtown Delray Beach can support large retailers that would bring in millions of dollars a year, a study shows. But at risk, city leaders say, is the unique charm of its beloved Atlantic Avenue.

“With this amount of retail, you could have somebody build a new Mizner Park or CityPlace right at the express way (Interstate 95) and Atlantic (Avenue),” said Robert Gibbs, a renowned urban planner who the city has paid to study the downtown. 

Since May, Gibbs has collected data on downtown retailers, restaurants and other businesses, and says the area around Atlantic Avenue can support thousands more square feet of retail and restaurant. He presented these findings to the city commission Monday.

Downtown Delray is prime real estate for big-box retailers. The area generates more than double the national average in retail sales per square foot, Gibbs said.

“You probably will get a lot of pressure from very large format, large leading retailers here,” Gibbs said.

But are they welcome in Delray Beach?

“Everything you’ve just projected eviscerates that which makes this street unique,” Mayor Cary Glickstein said.

Gibbs is tasked with collecting the data. It’s up to the city what they do with the information. Delray leaders could, Gibbs said, use the information to stop the large retailers from opening up shop.

Those businesses have the potential to capture $221 million in sales in Delray Beach, Gibbs’ research shows. 

The study breaks down the best uses of space downtown. That information could help guide landlords in leasing or renting space to the most profitable tenants. 

Gibbs’ study also confirmed a long-suspected hunch about downtown Delray Beach, which has lost many of its small, family-owned businesses to large retailers or chains restaurants: Rents are too high.

The rents downtown are “among the highest we’ve seen in the country,” Gibbs said. Where most tenants spend 10 percent of their profit on rent, Delray Beach retailers spend between 16 and 20 percent.

Some of Gibbs’ other findings:

  • Parking downtown has affected retail sales and can be improved.
  • Some shops close too early to capture potential sales. 
  • Most downtown retailers get a bulk of their business from tourists. “(Tourists) spend more time shopping than they do going to recreational activities,” Gibbs said.
  • Delray Beach is among the best in the country in terms of “character and walkability,” Gibbs said.

Gibbs will continue to study the downtown, and craft suggestions to increase sales and further improve walkability.

Reader Comments ...

Next Up in Local

’Barefoot Contessa’ Ina Garten shows off fancy $15,500 stove
’Barefoot Contessa’ Ina Garten shows off fancy $15,500 stove

“Barefoot Contessa” Ina Garten just took upgrading your appliances to a whole new level. >> Read more trending news  The Food Network star and celebrity chef took to social media last week to show off a new, stunning stove that she just added to the kitchen of her Manhattan apartment. “First day cooking on my new @lacanche_us...
Jury deliberates 1995 Belle Glade cold case murder
Jury deliberates 1995 Belle Glade cold case murder

In the two decades old photo of the wooded area in Belle Glade, dark marks in the grass showed what prosecutors on Tuesday told a jury was likely Shirley Laseter’s final, desperate attempt to get away. Her assailant viciously bashed the back of her head in with a dirt-filled bucket so hard that it bruised and fractured her spine before she died...
JUST IN: Woman hit by car in West Palm Beach, police search for driver
JUST IN: Woman hit by car in West Palm Beach, police search for driver

A woman is in the hospital after she was hit by a car in West Palm Beach Tuesday evening, according to city police. Investigators are now searching for the driver who fled the scene. At 7:07 p.m., officers were called to the intersection of Greenwood Avenue and 45th Street, next to St. Mary’s Medical Center, where a woman was hit. Police said...
Drugs, self-defense claims at heart of death penalty case of Miami man
Drugs, self-defense claims at heart of death penalty case of Miami man

Flakka, alcohol, jealousy over an ex-girlfriend and bad living arrangements were all terrible pieces of baggage for John Chapman and Vanessa Carmen Williams to bring into their final, fatal encounter on an April morning nearly three years ago. On that, at least, everyone agreed. Why and how Williams ended up dead, on the other hand, emerged on Tuesday...
Riviera employee details sexual misconduct of 2 ex-officials in suit
Riviera employee details sexual misconduct of 2 ex-officials in suit

A Riviera Beach Public Works employee has sued the city, her former department head and a former interim city manager, alleging the officials sexually harassed and assaulted her and that supervisors did nothing about it. The advances of former Interim City Manager Danny Jones and former Public Works Director Brynt Johnson led to loss of dignity, severe...
More Stories