Woods draws opponent; west elm leaves

Robb & Stucky building demolition is complete; Campus Drive roundabout is open for business.

west elm

Recent happenings in the Gardens

A Group 4 city council race is shaping up between incumbent Carl Woods and newcomer Eric Bruns. 

Armed with a city attorney’s opinion saying he isn’t blocked by term limits, Woods filed paperwork with the city clerk on Aug. 3 to run. The next day, Bruns, who lives in Carleton Oaks off of west Northlake Boulevard, signed up to run.

In Group 2, Councilmember Marcie Tinsley, 52, elected in March to fill the remaining one year of Maria Marino’s term, dropped off her paperwork on June 18. No one has filed to challenge her.

Campaigns generally take shape over the summer but the formal qualifying period isn’t until the final 15 days of November. 

Woods, a Republican, took office in 2016 after initially losing to incumbent David Levy in a close race. Levy, a Democrat, served the first four months of Woods’ three-year term before an appellate court threw out his victory and ruled Levy off the ballot because of term limits, leaving Woods the victor. 

Woods, 57, a Republican, defeated Howard Rosenkranz in 2019 to win a second term. 

But as a result of the four-month gap in 2016, Woods wasn’t elected to two full, three-year terms, City Attorney Max Lohman advised in a July 29 memo, clearing the retired police officer to run one more time.

While the elections are nonpartisan, partisanship remains an issue among supporters. Bruns, 36, a financial adviser who started his own company in February but formerly worked for Raymond James, is a registered Democrat. He also serves in the Army Reserve.

west elm
All but three letters remain of the west elm store in Downtown Palm Beach Gardens. (Joel Engelhardt photo)

West elm pulls out of Downtown

As Downtown Palm Beach Gardens won critical city council support Aug. 5 for its most ambitious rebuild plan, it lost one of its key retail tenants. 

West elm, which filled 9,000 square feet at the plaza west of the Gardens Mall since February 2015, moved out during the first week of August. It left for new quarters at Rosemary Square in downtown West Palm Beach, the center formerly known as CityPlace.

The plaza surrounding the store had been fenced off and under construction for most of the past year. Work is expected to be completed in the fall.

A spokeswoman for the shopping center confirmed the departure and said “We are excited to announce something soon that will occupy their former space!”

Comings and goings among retailers are common but particularly vexing as COVID-battered  retailers contract in the face of the online shopping boom. 

Industry trends forced another vacant space in Downtown’s three-block long Strand section, when Sur La Table declared bankruptcy and pulled out in September. 

Meanwhile, the center’s owners, ShopCore Properties, promise revitalization by luring outdoors giant REI and tearing down two buildings, including the one housing The Cheesecake Factory, to build a 280-unit apartment building and a 174-room hotel.

Robb & Stucky
The downed perimeter fence, flattened by an early August storm, lays bare the cleared site of the former Robb & Stucky furniture showroom on Aug. 4, 2021. The fence was later carted away. (Joel Engelhardt photo)

Robb & Stucky demolition complete

The demolition of the vacant Robb & Stucky furniture showroom, which began in May, is complete but the project that is to take its place has yet to endure its first public review. 

Developer Dan Catalfumo’s plans for a 396-unit apartment building and an eight-story 200,000-square-foot office building, dubbed PGA Station, remain under staff review, not yet scheduled to go before the city’s Planning, Zoning and Appeals Board, the first public review before city council, according to information on the city’s website.

Work on the drainage pond at PGA Station continues in August 2021. (Joel Engelhardt photo)

Meanwhile, workers have been doing site work on the lake that will contain drainage for the project. It’s on the east side of RCA Center Drive, just across from the cleared Robb & Stucky site, where the apartment building is to be built. The office building would go just north of the lake.

OnGardens.org spoke with Catalfumo and provided a more detailed review of the project in February. 

Campus Drive
The Campus Drive roundabout is open for business outside Palm Beach State College. (Joel Engelhardt photo)

Campus Drive reopens

The two-week closure of Campus Drive off of PGA Boulevard is over and the roundabout is in place at the entry to Palm Beach State College. 

Work on the half-mile length of road, which links PGA Boulevard to RCA Boulevard, is expected to continue for about six months.

The city is spending $1.3 million from developer-paid mobility fees to build the roundabout at the western entrance to the campus and extend the existing right-turn lane at PGA to give cars more stacking space. 

Workers with contractor J.W. Cheatham also have started building a seven-foot-wide sidewalk on the now-unadorned east side of the road and will replace the existing five-foot sidewalk on the west side with a 12-foot-wide walkway.

Kyoto Gardens sidewalk in pictures

FPL site
The five-foot sidewalk on the south side of Kyoto Gardens Drive is gone on Aug. 14, 2021, to be replaced by a 12-foot sidewalk. (Joel Engelhardt photo)
FPL site
The first length of 12-foot sidewalk is in place on Aug. 14, 2021, outside the Florida Power & Light office construction site on Kyoto Gardens Drive. (Joel Engelhardt photo)

© 2021 Joel Engelhardt. All rights reserved.

Author: Joel Engelhardt

Joel Engelhardt is an award-winning newspaper reporter and editor based in Palm Beach Gardens. He spent more than 40 years in the newspaper business, including 28 years at The Palm Beach Post. As a reporter, he covered countywide growth, the 2000 election and the birth of Cityplace in West Palm Beach. As an editor, he oversaw probes into the opioid scourge, private prisons, police-involved shootings and more. For seven years, he worked on the paper’s editorial board. Joel left The Post in December 2020. He and his wife, Donna, have lived together in Palm Beach Gardens since 1992.

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