Exclusive: FPL seeks to build second building at Gardens site

Florida Power & Light Co.’s plan for a second 1,000-employee building would be a twin of the first and include 150 electric-vehicle charging stations.

FPL office center PGA Boulevard

As FPL nears completion of its 1,000-employee office center at Interstate 95 and PGA Boulevard in Palm Beach Gardens, it is moving forward with a second building, a twin of the first, to house another 1,000 workers.

The building would be erected at an angle in front of the first building facing Kyoto Gardens Drive, Florida Power & Light’s March 21 plans show.

FPL office plan
A glass-enclosed walkway connects the buildings on the PGA Boulevard side, as seen in this east aerial looking west. The second building is on the right. (Perkins&Will site plan)
FPL office center PGA Boulevard
The view from PGA Boulevard of the first building, which began construction in 2020 and will be done by year’s end. (E. Engelhardt photo)

FPL, which bought the 86-acre site in 2011 and began construction of the first building in 2020, is now undergoing city staff review under the name PGA Office Center before the plan moves into the public sphere with hearings before the Planning, Zoning and Appeal Board and the City Council.

Such approvals, requested in March, can take a year and construction could take another two years.

But the proposal, while massive, contains little to stop it. FPL is requesting a single waiver of a city rule, one that the ecology-minded City Council is likely to embrace. 

So many of the power company’s employees drive electric vehicles to work that FPL wants to install 150 electric-vehicle charging stations in its parking garage and it wants those spaces to count toward the required parking total of 699. But city code does not allow those spaces to count.

PGA Office Center
Aerial view from Military Trail looking east at the FPL office center shows the addition of a second building to the left of the first. PGA Boulevard is to the right. (Perkins&Will site plan)

FPL is proposing 708 spaces, 701 of them in the garage and seven in a surface lot for visitors.

Among those 701 garage spaces, FPL wants initially to build 70 with charging capability and the potential to later convert another 80. At its Juno Beach headquarters, FPL said in its proposal, it has 122 EV charging spaces for employees and company vehicles.

In the past, the City Council has asked applicants to provide more EV charging stations, seeing them as a growing trend.

FPL Office plan
A glass-enclosed walkway connects the two buildings at the FPL office center in Palm Beach Gardens. (Perkins&Will site plan)

FPL campus plan initially approved in 2013

In 2019, the council approved Phase 1 of the project, a 266,000-square-foot, six-story office building with a 731-space, three-story parking garage on the PGA Boulevard side of the site. 

The Juno Beach offices will remain the corporate headquarters for FPL parent Next Era Energy even after the first Palm Beach Gardens building opens before the end of 2022, an FPL spokesperson said.

The six-story Phase 2 building would be 249,000 square feet. Its three-story parking garage would front Kyoto Gardens. The Phase 2 building would connect to the first building with a glass-enclosed walkway. 

FPL office plan
Plans for the second FPL office building north of the first on an 86-acre site along Kyoto Gardens Drive. (Perkins&Will site plan)

FPL received zoning approval in 2013 to build nearly 1 million square feet of offices on the site. It is now seeking approval of its site plan for Phase 2. If approved, nearly a half-million square feet of development potential remains, which judging by the first two buildings would be enough space for another 2,000 employees.

FPL already is paying to move a water main that crosses the site and connect it to an existing water main about a fifth of a mile to the east, a project relying on horizontal directional drilling to go under the railroad tracks and Alternate A1A.

It also paid to move RCA Center Drive about 80 yards west to leave enough space to add a traffic signal if needed.

FPL office building on PGA
The FPL office center at PGA Boulevard and Interstate 95 on July 26. It is expected to open by the end of the year. (Joel Engelhardt photo)

Solar panel to shade rooftop parking  

Aside from EV charging stations, designers Perkins&Will of Chicago and land planners Urban Design Studio of West Palm Beach list “sustainability measures” that include using native plants on 90 percent of the landscape and low-flow plumbing fixtures. 

The building also will take advantage of renewable energy from a solar photovoltaic array, which is multiple solar panels wired together, that also will provide shade at the roof of the parking level.

FPL, which already has permission to build a helistop on the east side of Building 1, wants to add an above-ground fixed fuel system on the southwest corner to gas up company vehicles during storms. The fuel station will include a 3,000-gallon, double-walled steel tank with two dispensers.

Both buildings are designed to withstand Category 5 hurricanes and provide staging for FPL vehicles during storms. The first floor of the parking structures will be tall enough to accommodate trucks.

FPL office center
The entry road from Kyoto Gardens Drive to the FPL office buildings in Palm Beach Gardens. (Perkins&Will site plan)
FPL office center
The entry road off Kyoto Gardens Drive to the FPL office center on July 26. (Joel Engelhardt photo)

More entry points

A berm built during Phase 1 near the Kyoto Gardens entrance along with native landscaping will be extended to the east to “act as natural barriers and deterrents to individuals looking to enter the property,” the FPL proposal says, and to “assist with creating a ‘dome effect’ that helps contend with severe weather.”

While FPL expressed concerns for security, it agreed to add two more access points sought by the city. The first, on Kyoto Gardens Drive east of the existing entry road, would allow only right-in, right-out access. The second would be on newly realigned RCA Center Drive north of the existing exit.

Gates at the entry points would remain open except when “the property goes into a lock down mode,” FPL’s proposal said.

FPL office center
Work should be done by year’s end on the first FPL office building, seen here on July 30. (E. Engelhardt photo)

Bridge at Military Trail and Kyoto?

In a discussion of a bridge at Kyoto Gardens Drive and Military Trail raised by city staff, FPL is noncommittal, saying it had looked at the intersection “at a high level.”

“While we recognize the intersection’s importance to the subject site as well as other development initiatives being pursued by the city and other developers in the area, we believe further analysis is needed and other parties should be consulted and engaged.”

The document, posted on the city’s website, provides no insight into whether anyone is seriously contemplating a bridge at the intersection. An elevated section of Interstate 95 rises over the intersection and the intersection leads to a northbound I-95 entrance.

© 2022 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.

5 thoughts on “Exclusive: FPL seeks to build second building at Gardens site”

  1. How are these 2,000 employees going to access I-95 during the afternoon “bottlenecks?
    Does the County or the State have any plan to address the current daily “bottlenecks?

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