Apartments and hotel change orientation on the grounds of downtown Palm Beach Gardens

PALM BEACH GARDENS – A new construction project in downtown Palm Beach Gardens means people won’t just shop or dine in the 49.4-acre downtown area.

They will live there.

New plans for downtown include a 174-room hotel, 280 apartments and an eight-story parking lot that would be next to the existing parking lot at the site of the existing Cheesecake Factory restaurant.

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The complex moves to residential from addiction to retail, restaurants

The bid for the city of Palm Beach Gardens comes as the PGA Boulevard and Alternate State Road A1A complex completes a different construction project that added parking, shops and landscaping.

It represents a development push to stay relevant as shopping malls across the country struggle due to increased online shopping and coronavirus-related closures.

Experts predict that 25% of malls will close permanently by 2025, and the city center has its fair share of competition with retail stores. It is located west of the Gardens Mall and 10 miles north of the West Palm Beach outlets.

Kevin Mysliwiec, senior manager of ShopCore, the Chicago-based company that owns the Downtown complex, called the plan a “culmination” of the company’s plan for the transformation of the property.

“When (the city center) was designed, it was a very important retail and merchandise hub,” he said. “To keep a center thriving and thriving, there has to be some transformation.”

Changing market needs and the rise of online shopping have led to a “shift towards experiential lifestyle and lifestyle elements,” he said. Armed with equipment that promises to attract young people to development, the designers want the final phase of construction to begin next year.

But buyers and nearby residents shouldn’t expect more construction cones just yet. Although the rezoning requests were unanimously approved Thursday night, the details of the renovation require several more approvals from the city.

An aerial view of the map of Downtown Palm Beach Gardens, which includes a new hotel and apartments.

New apartments in downtown Palm Beach Gardens

The hub to downtown residences has been approved by city council along with three other requests from Excel Gardens LLC regarding the rezoning and replacement of an existing building.

The new plan includes replacing the Cheesecake Factory building and the area north of the restaurant next to the existing parking garage with an eight-story residential tower.

The tower will consist mainly of one and two bedroom apartments with a small number of studios and three bedroom apartments.

Apartment rental rates are not included in the plans, but city officials have said they likely won’t be affordable for people who will be working in the area.

“I know this project has no housing for the workforce,” board member Mark Marciano said Thursday. “This area is going to need workers and the rental housing out there is really not accessible to the typical employee.”

The renderings show a plan for apartments and a hotel in downtown Palm Beach Gardens.  The shopping center is moving towards residential uses to create a versatile downtown.

ShopCore did not respond to Marciano’s comment, but the board member said the city was working with candidates in other areas to address housing shortages for the workforce.

The new location is one block from Mira Flores, a 352 apartment complex where rent for a one bedroom unit starts at $ 1,874 per month and rent for a three bedroom unit starts at 2,496 $ per month.

Next to the building there will be a swimming pool and barbecues for the use of residents and a section of the parking lot reserved for residents, according to the plans.

Hotel and outdoor dining in the city center

The new zone vision also adds more space between buildings for alfresco dining and walking between buildings. The developers hope that a larger area with sidewalks, curved streets and a textured pavement will encourage cars to move slowly through the area and around pedestrians.

Closer to the cinema, the new construction plans show a replacement of the Texas De Brazil building with a nine-story tower.

The first level of the tower will be for retail and restaurant use, the second floor will be for offices, and the rest of the building will be an Aloft hotel – a new division of Marriott International – with 174 rooms.

The cinema will remain, but CMX Downtown at the Gardens 16 will lose 774 of its 2,474 seats, according to plans. The complex would retain the 16 screens but would have fewer seats – albeit larger and more comfortable – in each cinema.

The renderings show a plan for apartments and a hotel in downtown Palm Beach Gardens.  The shopping center is moving towards residential uses to create a versatile downtown.

Growth and change in the city center

Downtown Palm Beach Gardens has been slowly reinventing itself since 2003, when it changed its commercial and restaurant layout and completed a parking study.

Most recently, the board approved the addition of an 118,862 square foot LifeTime health club and parking garage in 2019. Construction of these facilities will be completed in early 2021.

The mall is currently moving its carousel to the lake and improving the landscaping. This project is expected to be completed by the end of the year, according to construction plans.

Around the new carousel location, the plan includes two new dog parks that will be open to the public and improvements to the event’s lawn on the water.

Council members Seemed satisfied with the third phase of redevelopment and the plan to provide living space for the mall.

“It’s bigger and better,” Council member Carl Woods said of the plans. “This has a ‘Wow!’ factor.”

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