- Lulu Ramadan Palm Beach Post Staff Writer
DELRAY BEACH – The plan to build a Publix Supermarket on West Atlantic Avenue, an area that has long awaited a renaissance, is stalled in negotiation over a construction date that could be as far off as December 2022.
The developer wants until 2022 to break ground. Delray Beach’s Community Redevelopment Agency, which owns the land on West Atlantic Avenue at Southwest Sixth Avenue, refuses to wait that long.
“I’m not OK with Publix holding that land hostage for five years,” said CRA board member Morris Carstarphen.
The developer must “put shovel to the ground a lot quicker” or negotiation to sell the land for the grocery store will end, Carstarphen added.
The five-year timeline was an ill-favored contract provision for Delray Beach commissioners, who supported the planned Publix in the past. Both city boards have vowed to focus development efforts on Atlantic Avenue west of Swinton Avenue, a mostly blighted counterpart to the prosperous East Atlantic strip of restaurants and businesses.
“Why is it so hard to concentrate on developing West Atlantic Avenue as a block?” Deputy Vice-Mayor Shirley Johnson said at a meeting with CRA members Monday.
The goal is to “make Atlantic Avenue one complete main street from I-95 to A1A,” Johnson said.
A study of West Atlantic identified a grocery store as the highest-priority need in the largely residential area.
But if negotiation for the Publix, with a deadline of Feb. 8, reaches an impasse, the plan will fall through. If that happens, the CRA will seek new proposals for the 2.8-acre lot.
“The community needs to really decide how much they really want a grocery store to be an integral part of this development,” Mayor Cary Glickstein said.
Touted as an economic catalyst for West Atlantic Avenue, the Publix proposal had garnered widespread support before the five-year contract provision was introduced.
Glickstein said in October that the city would “move heaven and earth to get shovels in the ground.”
Equity firm Passadena Capital would buy the land from the CRA for $2 million, with a provision that bars the firm from selling the land before construction.
Passadena pitched a 35,000-square-foot Publix at the site with outdoor open space.