Palm Beach Gardens residents and neighbors packed a workshop Tuesday to voice their support of “smart growth” and opposition to traffic stemming from the proposed 3,985-home Avenir development on the city’s western edge.
Planner Ken Tuma gave an overview of the scaled-back plans for 3,735 single-family homes and 250 town homes on the former Vavrus Ranch north of Northlake Boulevard, stressing the long-term economic and environmental benefits. Developer Avenir Holdings, LLC, has proposed a public-private partnership in which it would give as many as 50 acres of land on the 4,763-acre site to the city to lure corporate headquarters.
Representatives of the Northern Palm Beach County Chamber of Commerce and Economic Council of Palm Beach County spoke in favor of the plan. Supporters wore black “Avenir” stickers.
“Avenir equals an economic driver,” said our Chamber’s very own Rick Sartory,Executive Vice President of Business Development & Community Relations.
Avenir Holdings also plans to dedicate 2,426 acres on the northern half of the property to conservation. That’s larger than all of PGA National, Tuma said at the Planning, Zoning and Appeals board meeting. The preserved land could help with storm water flow and ecological restoration, he said.
People who live in communities neighboring the proposed development and North County Neighborhood Coalition President Sal Faso said they worry about the cumulative effects of the development in the area on traffic.
An Acreage resident said the developers were “wonderful” in going out of their way to meet with residents, but The Acreage is going to be the most severely impacted. Northlake Boulevard is already congested, she said, noting it will be made worse by Minto West.
Rosa Schechter, an Avenir Holdings principal, said the developers have thought a lot about traffic and know how to grow methodically. The developers have proposed a regional connector road from Northlake Boulevard to Beeline Highway through Avenir, which is expected to re-route trips from Northlake to the Beeline, avoiding the intersection of the two.
The Avenir Town Center should reverse a portion of cars that are going east into Palm Beach Gardens for services, Tuma said. Tuma compared it to Jupiter’s Abacoa, which has one of the busiest Publix around. The latest plan for Avenir calls for 400,000 square feet of commercial development.
Avenir will draw people to it for work, he said. The plan shows 200,000 square feet for medical office space and 1.8 million for professional offices. The developers plan to dedicate 55 acres to the city for a park to meet recreational needs and give another parcel adjacent to the Palm Beach Gardens golf course, should the city want to expand it.
Everglades Law Center Senior Staff Counsel Lisa Interlandi said the proposed connector road would negatively impact the environment, and the traffic effects are widespread.