DELRAY BEACH — With more than 1,500 apartments in development, Delray Beach’s Congress Avenue has quickly become fertile ground for developers looking to build new housing in a city with that has a scarcity of available land.
While city officials are encouraging growth in the area and recognize housing continues to be a major need in the city, they’re also trying to strike a balance and make sure it doesn’t become overrun with more apartment complexes than the street can handle and turn it into a traffic nightmare.
In an attempt to find that balance, the city is considering hiring an outside real estate firm, CBRE, to conduct a planning study “to analyze and provide recommendations regarding a development strategy on Congress Avenue with the goal of balancing commercial and housing growth,” according to city documents.
The consultants “will perform assessments including physical environment, market opportunity, business environment, and administrative capacity.” The city would pay CBRE $98,750 to conduct the study. Delray Beach previously retained CBRE to solicit development bids for the Delray Beach Golf Club.
The city has yet to finalize the measure, so there’s no timetable on when the final report would be finished.
“It’s a hard push and pull between residential and commercial,” Delray Beach Mayor Shelly Petrolia said.
“We recognize that we can’t clog our main artery of Congress Avenue just inundating it with tons of traffic from a whole bunch more residential spots that aren’t currently residential without taking into account what it would mean to our infrastructure and what are we going to need from resources to handle this load.”
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Congress Avenue has primarily served as a hub for industrial and warehouse buildings, but developers see the area as an untapped resource for new housing. Just south of Linton Boulevard off Germantown Road, Parks at Delray Parks at Delray will add 747 apartments and townhomes on a lot that has remained vacant for 14 years. The project will also include 40,000 square feet of commercial space and 12,000 square feet of new office space.
Additionally, Aura Delray Beach is building more than 276 luxury apartments along Congress Avenue, at 2105 W. Atlantic Avenue.
Part of the reason for the study is finding a way to balance new housing and commercial growth, while still keeping a strong industrial and warehouse district, which is key for the city, Petrolia said.
Two additional proposals are also in the mix, but have already received pushback. Developers have proposed an eight-story building that would include 271 residential units, more than 1,000 square feet of commercial space and a seven-story parking garage at 1625 Congress Ave., just south of Linton Boulevard. The project has yet to receive final approval due to numerous concerns, including the size of the building.
On Monday, a proposal to rezone an industrial piece of land along Congress just north of Linton Avenue for a 267-unit apartment complex was denied by the Planning and Zoning Board, leaving the fate of the proposal in doubt.
One of the concerns with the project, Alexan Delray, was that it was solely comprised of housing and did not have any commercial space allocated for the project, which the city is encouraging in the area.
As part of the study, CBRE would speak to key stakeholders, including developers looking to build in the area and local business and warehouse owners to try and better understand the marketplace.