Riviera residents' ideas create renewal 'road map'

The hourlong presentation Friday was the culmination of a weeklong series of meetings in which residents shared with planners their views on upgrading the city and on its $2.4 billion waterfront redevelopment. The comments were translated into designs that could transform neighborhoods and enhance the Intracoastal Waterway and municipal beach.

Dana Little, the planning council's project manager, told the group that the presentation was the first draft of residents' comments on redeveloping about 400 acres. The plan will be revised and presented to a steering committee in the coming weeks.

"Our job is to lay a road map," Little said inside a packed city hall. "Our job is to create a stable planning environment."

That road map includes a possible grocery store on Singer Island at the redeveloped Ocean Mall, part of the municipal beach. It also includes moving the entrance to the mall to provide better access to the beach.

On the mainland, the planning council recommended moving Newcomb Hall, a public events facility at the municipal marina just north of Bicentennial Park, which is underused and is a gathering place for vagrants and illegal activities.

A few weeks ago, the city's master developer for the renewal, Viking Inlet Harbor Properties, revealed its plan for the marina and park.

The planning council's presentation also showed improvements for neighborhoods west of Broadway, such as putting a Tri-Rail train station in the city.

The community redevelopment agency hired the planning council last month for $185,000 to reevaluate its redevelopment plan. After setting up a steering committee, the council organized public meetings. Last Saturday's kickoff drew about 225 people, planning council officials said.

Throughout the week, an average of 60 residents a day flowed into a "studio" where planners turned their comments into designs.

The residents' concerns pushed the scope of the meetings beyond redevelopment. The examination included neighborhood needs, transportation and the city's relationship with the Port of Palm Beach.

Floyd Johnson, the CRA's executive director, asked for the reevaluation after the redevelopment plan had been stalled for 18 months. Changes in the economy and Florida's eminent-domain law forced Viking to put its previous plans on hold.