A proposed 3,250-home development off Northlake Boulevard south of the Beeline Highway received the blessing of Palm Beach Gardens officials Thursday night after three years of planning and compromise.
Palm Beach Gardens City Council voted 5-0 to give final approval to Avenir’s master plan, along with changes to accommodate the development on 4,763 acres on the city’s western edge. Those changes include rezoning, moving an growth boundary and altering land uses in the city’s comprehensive plan.
At Avenir’s inception, plans called for 7,600 homes, 1.2 million square feet of office space, 500,000 square feet of retail space, a university and a 300-room hotel. In late 2014, that was scaled back to 4,760 homes. At the conclusion of a City Council meeting in January, then-Mayor Eric Jablin, now a councilman, announced he negotiated with the developers for 3,250 homes, 250 of which will be workforce housing.
The current plan also calls for 1.94 million square feet of office space, 200,000 square feet of medical offices, 400,000 square feet of commercial space, the 300-room hotel, 20 acres of agriculture, a 55-acre public park, a 60-acre civic/recreation parcel, 15 acres for a police/fire/city annex and 15 acres for a public school.
Another 2,407 acres on the northern part of the property will be conservation land. The developer plans to restore wetlands, improving the flow of water to the Loxahatchee River.
Drew Martin, of the Sierra Club, complimented the project for the water flow improvements on the north end but said there should be firm protections in place for the conservation area in the future, should the developers flip the property. He also said the project is too dense and brings commercial development too far west.
“I don’t think Northlake Boulevard will be able to handle this traffic,” he said.
The developers have said Avenir will help reverse traffic going east by providing shops, restaurants, access to medical care and employment opportunities. They will also widen a section of Northlake Boulevard from their western property boundary to the east side of Ibis.
Officials praised the executives of Avenir Holdings, who were in attendance, for working with the Palm Beach Gardens planning staff and listening to residents’ concerns.
Danny Lopez, a principal with Avenir Holdings, said it will be a few years before construction can start. Attorney Steve Mathison said it will probably be about four years before the first homes are ready for families to move in.
Avenir will be built in phases over 20 years.