Ever since the Lake Worth Beach Casino Complex reopened in 2013, it has experienced a host of problems — pool issues, building leaks and traffic woes.
“We knew there were certain things that were not functioning well,” City Manager Michael Bornstein said at Tuesday’s commission meeting.
The city has been trying to address those issues for years.
CPZ Architects, a Plantation-based firm, was hired to host a public charrette to get public input on the project and to hopefully help fix the issues. The charrette happened April 21.
The company presented commissioners on Tuesday with six conceptual design ideas that ranged from $14 million to $59 million dollars and a six-lane pool to no pool to a private development hotel. There was supposed to be no talk of financing, but the issue did come up after Juan Ruiz, assistant city manager, brought up the penny sales tax, saying Lake Worth has collected $3.7 million so far.
But Commissioner Scott Maxwell had a problem with the sales-tax money being mentioned since the city never said it wanted to use the money to fix the beach.
“Put that number out there and it potentially creates false expectations for some people and makes the process a lot more complicated,” he said. “I don’t want to find us in a situation where we have X amount of dollars given to us…and folks want to spend it all on the beach. I’m absolutely not going down that road.”
Ruiz acknowledged Lake Worth is ready for a long process.
“You’ll get thrown a lot of stuff (the city) got from the public charrette and also from one-on-one meetings with commissioners and staff,” he said. “We’re not going into a deep dive on how to finance any option, we’re simply looking at design concepts and cost estimates.”
Chris Zimmerman, CPZ president, said his company looked at four basic areas — vacant space on the 2nd floor, the service area, parking and the pool.
“It’s underutilized on the second floor and can be a rental space,” he said. “The service area is way too small and the smell. Parking issues are pretty complex.”
Mayor Pam Triolo said nothing has been decided and that these were just ideas.
“Wish list, fantasy list, reality, who knows?” she said. “We’ll be the judge together.”
As for the pool, David Faerman, of Aquatic Consulting Engineers, said Lake Worth can do a very expensive repair, but the city would spend more money repairing it than replacing it.
Zimmerman said CPZ came with ideas from an absolute minimum to a well-thought out, long-range developed site.
“They’re not meant to be the right decision,” he said. “They’re to be thought-provoking and here for you to look and digest.”
Here’s a brief synopsis of the six designs Zimmerman presented to commissioners.
- Scheme A: Enlarge the service area to make it more accessible, add a monumental staircase and drop-off for weddings and other events. Add generic spaces for the second floor. Seventy-two new parking spaces to be added on the berm. Cost: $14.5 million.
- Scheme A1: Add a six-lane pool and a two-story pool storage building. Would look to redesign the dumpster area. Cost: $17 million.
- Scheme B: Develop the second-floor to add more catering spaces, a bridal suite and two meeting rooms with a moveable partition and a staff office. Develop the lawn a little more, add a maintenance facility with a restroom. Include 35 parking spaces. No pool. Cost: $18 million.
- Scheme C: Changes the dynamic quite a bit by re-arranging the roadway and drop-off by giving the complex an approach. Adds a single parking space. Cost: $18 million.
- Scheme D: Add a pool and a one-story parking garage that will add 108 spaces. Cost: $31 million.
- Scheme E: Create a plaza in front of the casino for events, open the pool a little more and possibly put another canopy area near the beach. Two-level garages. Cost: $41 million.
- Scheme F: In conjunction with public and private partnership agreements, the city would add retail buildings, shops, expanded parking garages and a private hotel development. Cost: $59 million.
Maxwell said he thought the process was going to lead to more retail opportunity for Lake Worth.
“But what I’ve seen, for the most part, was an increase in parking spots,” he said. “I don’t know what the return on the investment is going to look like, but it’s gonna be a stretch. I’m a little disappointed.”
He was especially disappointed in the figures that were mentioned.
“We’re staring at a minimum of $14 million,” Maxwell said. “Are you kidding me? $14 million on top of, in some people’s eyes, is behind bad money that has already been spent.”
Commissioner Herman Robinson admitted Lake Worth has a long way to go.
“I don’t know where we’re going with this, but we need to get there,” he said.
ON LINE: A detailed look at the six proposals at mypalmbeachpost.com