What’s new around Palm Beach Gardens? An update from the mayor

12:24 p.m Thursday, Nov. 2, 2017 Local
Mark Fuller’s Stack 45 turntable sculpture at the Legacy Place shopping complex on PGA Boulevard, across from The Gardens Mall in Palm Beach Gardens on October 25, 2017. (Allen Eyestone / The Palm Beach Post)

With kids’ homework, sports practices and the frenetic pace of life, it can be a challenge to keep up with what’s going on in the city.

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Mayor Maria Marino hosted a coffee and conversation at City Hall last Thursday and gave a rundown of the latest around the Gardens.

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Here are a few takeaways:

Palm Beach Gardens is doing $30 million in construction projects. The penny sales tax hike will ultimately pay for the City Hall, police department and fire administration expansion, soccer complex, baseball field expansion and other projects as the city gets reimbursed.

The City Council floated a $30 million bond to get the money upfront so that it could do the projects on its own schedule instead of waiting for the sales tax money to be distributed each year.

The Palm Beach Gardens City Council voted against putting the penny sales tax increase on the ballot.

“We were so financially sound to begin with, we voted against it,” Marino said.

Other Palm Beach County municipalities supported putting it to the voters, so it advanced anyway. Voters approved the tax hike, and Gardens will still get its share of the money.

The city is re-imagining transportation, especially around a future Tri-Rail station.

READ: PGA Boulevard train station will be at center of Gardens redevelopment

There are a lot of details to be worked out, but a Tri-Rail station is in the works at PGA Boulevard and Alternate A1A. Years from now when the station gets built, experts want to have a plan in place for getting people to and from destinations within about a mile.

A northern train station will attract employment opportunities, Marino said. The city is already friendly to business with programs such as expedited permitting for specific industries, she noted. Businesses that will create jobs can get top priority for review of their building projects, if they apply and qualify for the program.

Redevelopment is next.

Residents are going to see more redevelopment than new development because there’s not much land left to build on. The former Loehmann’s Plaza just east of I-95 on the south side of PGA Boulevard is ripe for redevelopment, Marino said.

“This is one of the gateways to the city. It needs to be utilized well. It needs to be visually appealing,” she said.

A resort-style health club surrounded by apartments and health-oriented shops and restaurants has been floated for the site, but no formal application for development has been submitted.

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