JUST IN: West Palm Beach digs into Clematis street makeover

WEST PALM BEACH — The gold-painted, ground-breaking shovels came out downtown on Monday morning for the second time in two weeks, as West Palm began turning its conceptual, consultant-driven re-imagining into concrete projects.

The Clematis Streetscape project began on the 300 block of Clematis, as a construction crew closed off the street and launched into a makeover that will leave it curb-less, shadier and with broader sidewalks for strolling and outdoor dining.

“We’re making it a street for people,” Mayor Jeri Muoio said, “a place where people want to be.”

The project is scheduled for completion by Oct. 31. Next June through October the city plans to redo three more blocks of Clematis in similar fashion.

Just last Thursday, Muoio and other city officials hoisted the first symbolic shovelfuls of dirt for Flagler Banyan Square, a hotel/apartment/office/restaurant project near the waterfront a block north of Clematis, where West Palm’s city hall once stood.

Jon Ward, executive director of the Community Redevelopment Agency, noted that several significant projects are getting underway, after years of studies by urban design consultants.

The city will be turning downtown alleys into places people want to amble in, rather than places for trash storage, he noted.

So what does that mean for traffic — pedestrians and vehicles — in the interim?

  • Construction already is underway at 314 Clematis, where the bottom floor is being cleared into room for 12 small retailers, along an open passageway that will lead back to the redesigned alleyway behind the building.
  • The city garage next to the old City Hall site, meanwhile, is in redesign for transformation into Banyan Hub, a multi-purpose building that serves as a social hub along Banyan Boulevard.
  • Rosemary Avenue and the Okeechobee Boulevard tent site also are scheduled for transformations. Potential tent site redevelopers were scheduled to present themselves to the Community Redevelopment Agency on Monday afternoon.

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