Related seeks support for 25-story office tower

Beautiful day at West Palm Beach with white clouds and blue sky over the waterway Royal Park Bridge. HDR image tone mapped in Photomatix and Topaz software.

The Related Cos. wants to add a 25-story office tower to West Palm Beach’s skyline.

The Related Cos. took its community outreach effort to the Chamber of Commerce of the Palm Beaches Thursday, part of an extended effort to overcome resistance to its proposed 25-story waterfront office tower.

The city in October rejected a plan that would have allowed the New York-based development firm to build a 30-story version of the tower, which is proposed for a site whose zoning allows a maximum of five stories. The city plan would have allowed builders to get approval for additional height by preserving and buying development rights from historic buildings, but dozens of residents opposed it, in favor of keeping tall buildings off the waterfront.

Related now is shopping a proposal for a 25-story, 275,000-square-foot tower on the site at South Flagler Drive and Lakeview Avenue, behind the First Church of Christ, Scientist.

 

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Artist’s rendering.

A 200-foot reflecting pool would lead to the building from Flagler Drive, inspired by the I.M. Pei design of the Christian Science church in Boston.

Related Senior Vice President Gopal Rajegowda said the church would be preserved in perpetuity with an endowment. “We have put a perpetual conservation easement on land to the north, south and east of the church and the marina space directly to the east of the Church– so nothing can be built on that property,” he said.

Beauitful full moon setting over the West Palm Beach waterway along the city skyline. HDRE image tone mapped using Photomatix Pro and enhanced with Topaz software.

Artist’s rendering.

Downtown West Palm is starved for top quality office space, especially with water views. Business Development Board Executive Director Kelly Smallridge told the gathering of several hundred business people at the chamber breakfast that many companies want to move to West Palm but are going elsewhere because they can’t find room.

Nancy Pullum, who heads development watchdog group Citizens for Thoughtful Growth, said Thursday that the city still hasn’t addressed how it would handle traffic generated by the project — a major issue, as Okeechobee Boulevard traffic grows thicker by the week.

And, since spot-zoning changes to accommodate one property are not legal, what’s not known is how the city would allow bigger towers elsewhere downtown in addition to Related’s site, she said. “You can’t build it now. What’s the proposal that would change that zoning?”