BUSINESS

Developer's plan for downtown West Palm Beach looking like Miami's funky Brickell Avenue

Alexandra Clough
Palm Beach Post
A conceptual drawing of possible future towers planned for The Square in West Palm Beach. The image was shown to a group of Kravis Center business donors last month by a partner at Related Cos., The Square's developer.

The Related Cos. built The Square, the center of dining and entertainment in downtown West Palm Beach, and now has plans to transform it.

During a presentation to top Kravis Center for the Performing Arts corporate donors in March, Related Cos. partner Gopal Rajagowda laid out the company's long-term vision for The Square, previously known as CityPlace. He noted that the New York-based company is working to transform the shopping and dining complex into "a place in the city."

Conceptual drawings beamed on two large screens at the Kravis Center revealed blocks of towers of steel and glass.

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One rendering showed a boxy tower with tiered, palm tree-topped pedestal floors next to the new 360 Rosemary office tower along North Rosemary Avenue. Another image showed a high-rise that appeared to be on the east side of the 550 block, looking north from the Harriet Himmel Theater.

Related's plan for West Palm Beach evokes Miami's Brickell Avenue, where luxury condominium and office skyscrapers stacked like wedding cakes punch holes in the skyline.

Although West Palm Beach won't be hosting 70-story towers, Related Cos.' vision for  The Square is a modern high-rise business and residential district, peppered with high-end restaurants.

Earlier this year, Related Cos. took the first step toward its plan for more high-rise buildings at The Square when it obtained a zoning change that would allow the construction of a tower rising 25 stories. 

Zoning approval is a required foundation for Related to later submit building plans to the city if the company decides to go forward with the tower.

During a January City Commission meeting, a company representative showed renderings of two proposed buildings, a 350,000-square-foot-office building near the Harriet Himmel Theater, and a smaller office building built over the Hibiscus parking garage. 

In its application to the city requesting the taller zoning height, Related said its interest in building tall towers was driven "by the unprecedented number of high-paying jobs to the city via the relocation of multiple out-of-state financial and technology firms."

Oct. 23, 2000 - Workers rush to build the fountain outside The Harriet Himmel Gilman Theater at CityPlace before the grand opening a week later.

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A NEW NEIGHBORHOOD IN WEST PALM? The Related Cos.' plans for The Square tie into another major move by developers to remake Clear Lake into a new neighborhood in downtown West Palm Beach. Think 25-story residential towers around the lake, which is near The Square and visible as you drive Okeechobee Boulevard into the city.

All of this is spurred on by both the Brightline train station in downtown West Palm Beach and the proposed University of Florida masters program campus.

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