Posted: 11:26 am Wednesday, December 18th, 2013

“Chapel” condo could go back to one tower 

By Eliot Kleinberg

The developers of the controversial condominium project proposed for the waterfront Chapel-by-the-Lake site will present plans that cut the project by 20 percent, lowering one of the two towers by three floors and cutting the number of units from 96 to 76, West Palm Beach Mayor Jeri Muoio said Wednesday.

A strong option also discussed: going back to the original plan of one tower.

While Muoio didn’t mention that last one, Chief planner Kerry Kilday confirmed it’s among the alternates being discussed, but stressed that for now, they’re just that.

“Whether it (the [proposed changes) does the trick, I don’t know, but they’re a lot closer,” Muoio said Wednesday morning at her weekly briefing with reporters.

Developers asked the city Tuesday to delay their final vote on the project from Jan. 6 to Jan. 21.

“This additional time will allow for the submittal, distribution and evaluation of changes to the architectural site plans and elevations that need to be submitted to the City for review,” Kilday said Tuesday in a letter to  Development Services Director Rick Greene.

Commissioners had been scheduled to vote on what’s, for now, twin towers of 24 and 25 stories, totaling 96 luxury units, each at $5 million plus, on the 3.2-acre open-air chapel site on Flagler Drive that First Baptist Church has a deal to sell to developer Al Adelson for $23 million.

The plans would require major waivers of city zoning rules, which the city is permitted to do under its comprehensive plan if it believes the value of the project justifies it.

Developers have said the towers will be a financial boon and a beautiful addition to the waterfront. Residents have said they will ruin that same waterfront

After a lengthy meeting on Oct. 28, developers asked for a delay to Jan. 6. A later poll of commissioners by the Palm Beach Post indicated the plans would have been voted down.

Muoio said Wednesday developers showed her the new plans recently. Greene said later the new plans haven’t yet been formally submitted to the city.

Muoio said developers have presented two designs, both 20 percent smaller than the original plans

In one of the designs, she said, one of the towers still is 25 stories but is narrower “and tilted on the side so you can see a lot of blue (sky). The other is 22 stories and a little wider.”

Muoio said developers also plan a walk behind the buildings that will allow the public to stroll along the Intracoastal Waterway.

Developers said at the October meeting they’d hold a “town hall” meeting for the affected neighborhoods, which they did on Dec. 4. They said afterward they will make design changes.

Muoio said seven of the changes came directly from public suggestions at that meeting.

The commission would have to formally vote Jan. 6 to table the discussion, but it historically grants such requests.

Muoio has said she’s not sure at what point changes will be so great that they’ll force the developers to go back to square one and subject themselves to new votes by both the planning board and the commission.