New rail crossing considered to help rush hour traffic cut through downtown

Driving downtown on Okeechobee Boulevard, or trying to.

West Palm officials hearing an earful about traffic tie-ups don’t have all the answers. But they are looking at one option that might ease rush hour congestion for commuters.

They’re asking the Florida Department of Transportation to consider adding a crossing to the Tri-Rail tracks off Australian Ave.

Right now, a lot of morning commuters take Okeechobee Boulevard to northbound Australian Avenue and then turn east on Banyan Boulevard to get downtown. But Banyan has become quite a bottleneck.

Rendering of the planned Transit-Oriented Development, known as the T-O-D. The contemplated crossing would be on the far left, cutting through from Australian Boulevard to Fern Street.

So the thinking is to add a crossing south of Banyan and the huge Transit-Oriented Development that’s being developed. That way, many commuters could turn off Australian and cross the tracks at Fern Street, without having to go all the way to Banyan.

Not a panacea for downtown traffic woes but it could provide relief, officials say — much needed at a time when a trainload of development is on the way downtown.

“Micro” apartments proposed for downtown

Greene Banyan
Developer Jeff Greene’s latest downtown project: 400 “micro units” planned for the corner of Banyan Boulevard and Rosemary Avenue.

With downtown coming to life these days, people in their 20’s want to live there but have a tough time affording rents that range past $1,800 a month for a typical 1,100-square-foot, one-bedroom apartment.

Jeff Greene says he has an answer for that.

The developer this week submitted plans for a 12-story apartment building at the corner of Banyan and Rosemary, that consists of “micro units.”

At about 450 square feet, the apartments will be less than half the size of a typical downtown one-bedroom — but at about half the rent. Greene says he plans to stuff the building with amenities to make up for the size of the units, such as common areas where renters can drink espresso and hang out.

He bought the 1.25-acre site, at 550 Banyan Blvd., in June 2014 for $3,477,500. It’s across the street from the police department, a block or so from Clematis Street, the train station, city hall and the courthouses and a few blocks from City Place.

Real estate investor Jeff Greene at the abandoned Sail Club on Executive Center Drive in West Palm Beach where Greene talked about his plans for the property Thursday, February 11, 2016. (Lannis Waters / The Palm Beach Post)
Real estate developer Jeff Greene.

The building will house 400 apartments, with full kitchens and washer-dryers. Rents: roughly $995 to $1,200.

It’s being designed by Arquitectonica, the Miami firm that’s also designing the 30-story, two-tower office and hotel/condo

project he’s starting at 550 Quadrille Blvd., called One West Palm.

The micro units are not just for 20-somethings, he says. They could serve as inexpensive crash pads for attorneys or other professionals from Miami, for instance, who come to West Palm once in a while and want to be walking distance from everything. “It’s a cool pied a terre idea.”

“It’s meant to be luxury living but with smaller individual living spaces and great common areas,” he says. “It’s a trade-off.”


Give a shelter pup a better life at one of these West Palm and North Palm events

Bobby. Photo from the Urgent Dogs of Miami Instagram account.

The internet caught fire today with the story of Bobby, the Christmas sweater dog. He was a ‘code red’ animal at Miami Dade Animal Shelter, a designation that meant he was considered to be unadoptable and to be put down.

The original story, which melted hearts, said that he, “still wears the green Christmas sweater volunteers at the shelter dressed him up in, with hopes he would attract the attention of a family looking to adopt a very sweet dog.” Bobby’s owners dropped him off at the shelter on December 16, just before Christmas.

Thankfully there’s a happy conclusion to the story, due to the amount of press that it received, Bobby was quickly adopted.bobby

This weekend, you’ll have the opportunity to find your own Bobby. West Palm Beach is hosting Paws in the Park from 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. on Sunday, February 14 at Waterfront Park, 101 N. Clematis Street.

The Village of North Palm Beach is also hosting their own event on Sunday, Puppy Love, from 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. at Anchorage Park, 603 Anchorage Drive.

Dogs will be available for adoption at both events.