Momentum builds for major projects to anchor West Palm’s trendy Northwood Village
WEST PALM BEACH — Attention to the city’s artsy Northwood district is intensifying, as architecture and urban design firms of national and international repute focus on projects to anchor the vacant east and west ends of the commercial stretch, while West Palm Beach rethinks its unintended haven for homeless along the Intracoastal waterfront, Currie Park.
On Friday at 6 p.m., the architecture firm that designed the Beijing National Stadium known as the Bird’s Nest is scheduled to present its vision for developer Jeff Greene’s assemblage of land between Northwood Road and Currie Park. Greene reserved the Center for Creative Education, at 425 24th St., to present area residents and business owners long-awaited plans for his initial building at North Flagler Drive and 23rd Street, and to lay out a concept for the corridor.
Greene’s team is led by Swiss architects Hertzog and de Meuron, who designed the Pérez Art Museum Miami and Miami Beach’s iconic garage, 1111 Lincoln Road, as well as the Olympic stadium.
The architect of record on the project, working with the Swiss designers, is GliddenSpina+Partners, a West Palm Beach firm. “When we heard those guys were involved, we were so excited to be part of the team,” Keith Spina said Tuesday. “It’s something that’s going to be a game changer for the whole neighborhood and the whole city.”
Greene, a billionaire investor, developer and political novice who in recent years mounted campaigns for governor and senator, likes to think big with project design, as well. Construction started a few months ago on his One West Palm, a $250 million, two-tower office, hotel and apartment complex designed by Arquitectonica’s Bernardo Fort-Brescia. In 2016 Greene, who owns several acres around the park, hired Massachusetts Institute of Technology urban planners Carlo Ratti Associati in an initial attempt to conceptualize a plan to link Northwood Road, his land and the park.
Meanwhile West Palm’s Community Redevelopment Agency is progressing through negotiations with Immocorp Ventures, which in November won a competition to develop the city-owned, 3.5-acre Anchor Site, near Northwood Road just west of Broadway. CRA Executive Director Jon Ward said this week he expects to present the CRA board with terms of the deal late this month and that the mixed-use project could be out of the ground next spring.
Immocorp, using well-known Miami architect Kobi Karp, plans a cluster of low- and mid-rise buildings. Immocorp’s Frank Gottsman said his firm hopes to draw visitors to the area and its businesses, with a project that has an artistic feel, reasonably priced apartments, a grocery store and offices. It would serve as a town square, possibly with a train stop for expanded Tri-Rail service. An art gallery, a Carrefour urban grocery and restaurants are committed to move in, he told city commissioners last November.
In February city commissioners chose the firm that designed New York’s High Line and redesigned Miami Beach’s Lincoln Road promenade, immensely popular public spaces — James Corner Field Operations — to work its magic on Currie Park.
Area residents long have complained that Currie Park serves as a haven for the homeless and drug-users, day and night, dissuading much of the public from benefiting from its grassy expanse and enjoying its views of the Lake Worth Lagoon. But Corner’s half-hour presentation to the Community Redevelopment Agency described Currie as an opportunity for transformation, to connect surrounding neighborhoods and the region to the waterfront while encouraging outdoor dining, recreation and enough activities and events to drive out those who camp out there.
Will Davis, president of the Northwood Village Merchants Association, said he found encouraging the attention being lavished on major projects for the trendy area.
“As long as we have multiple things happening in the area, God forbid, knock on wood, if one falls off page, at least we have something else to fall back on,” said Davis, who owns Day By Day, a vintage item shop at 513 Northwood Road. “We’re closer than ever to having some type of progress in the North End.”