Historic Delray cottage near W. Atlantic Ave. opens as career center... will it signal changes?

DELRAY BEACH — A career center opened in a tiny historic cottage in an underdeveloped part of downtown Delray Beach anticipating transformative changes in the near future.

Through a partnership between the city and nonprofit CareerSource Palm Beach County, Delray Career Cottage, a nonprofit that offers job training, recruitment and hiring services to the public, opened Thursday at 186 NW 5th Ave. 

The Career Cottage is open to the public Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., and will hold hiring events.

Delray Beach is “a city of have and have-nots,” Mayor Cary Glickstein said. “We are a rich city, but we have quite a few people struggling to find a job.”

CareerSource Palm Beach County, a nonprofit job-placement organization chartered by the state with two more locations in Belle Glade and West Palm Beach, has helped more than 100,000 county residents in the past five years.

Although the mini-job center is in Delray Beach, it will also serve the surrounding communities in south Palm Beach County, said Steve Craig, president of CareerSource Palm Beach County.

The 1937 cottage, restored and relocated to Northwest Fifth Avenue by the city’s Community Redevelopment Agency, sits in the historic West Settlers District, site of the first African-American settlement in Delray Beach. The cottage is just two blocks from Atlantic Avenue and north of the Spady Cultural Heritage Museum, dedicated to black history of Delray and Palm Beach County.

The cottage, built by Roy Harvel who was head of a pioneering family in Delray Beach, “is getting a second life in a very important way,” Glickstein said.

As the under-served areas of West Atlantic Avenue await the economic boom that brought prosperity to East Atlantic Avenue, the career center is a step toward serving the longtime residents in the face of sweeping changes planned for the area.

Chuck Ridley — who chairs the West Atlantic Redevelopment Coalition, a city board that advises on development in the corridor along West Atlantic Avenue — lauded the career center and its location in the city.

“How do we make sure the least among us are able to live in this community, thrive in this community, watch it develop without displacing the history and heritage?” Ridley said.

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