What to expect at Jupiter oceanfront park named for ex-Commissioner Karen Marcus

Plans call for picnic areas, walking trails and a scrub preserve but construction is years away.

EVERY OTHER WEEK or so, the driver of a brown Honda Pilot performs a peculiar ritual while motoring north along a certain stretch of U.S. 1 in Jupiter.

On cue, as the vehicle passes a metal blue sign with the words “Future Site of Karen Marcus Ocean Park Preserve,” the driver taps a friendly beep-beep of the horn.

“People in the cars next to me are all looking around like, ‘Who? What?’” says the driver, former Palm Beach County Commissioner Karen Marcus, for whom the 154-acre site is named.

“And if the grandkids are with me, they are absolutely mortified: ‘What are you doing?’ I tell them, ‘It’s my park!'”

It’s not a park yet, which is why Marcus performs another whimsical ritual, this one every other year or so in the days leading up to or following her birthday.

Read the rest of the story by Joe Capozzi at his website ByJoeCapozzi.com

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Lockers for 700: Life Time fitness gears up for July opening

Lockers for 700: Life Time fitness gears up for July opening

REI Co-op also to open at Downtown Palm Beach Gardens this year even as construction tears up shopping center’s north end.

It’s still more than two months before the Life Time fitness center opens at Downtown Palm Beach Gardens but residents can still play a game of pickleball, check out the stationary bikes or even practice yoga.

The three-story center on the north end of Downtown has been under construction since 2019 but, in anticipation of its July opening, the Minnesota-based fitness giant has opened a preview center in the former west elm store and is offering free Wednesday morning classes.

Continue reading “Lockers for 700: Life Time fitness gears up for July opening”

Back to the drawing board: Initial plans for raceway warehouses ‘dead’

When the Palm Beach County Zoning Commission denied a series of variances to allow Portman Industrial to build warehouses at Palm Beach International Raceway, they blocked the developer from moving on to the next step.

For the proposed builders of 2.1 million square feet of warehouse space on the site of Palm Beach International Raceway, it’s back to the drawing board.

Portman Industrial has asked to postpone its April 28 hearing before the Palm Beach County Commission for five months, until Sept. 22. 

And Portman will have to redraw its plans, says one seasoned land-use lawyer who watched April 7 as the Palm Beach County Zoning Commission unanimously rejected the warehouse builder’s requests for several variances.

Continue reading “Back to the drawing board: Initial plans for raceway warehouses ‘dead’”

Inside the artists’ studio: Creativity, diversity thrive at Legacy Place

Many of the artists grew up in Palm Beach County, some recently moved here; some love landscapes, others portraits. Art binds them together. Open house Saturday night.

There’s the Army sniper who offers a poem with every painting. A Cuban immigrant who paints English countrysides. A 23-year-old who quit her job at Whole Foods to commit full-time to art. A crime victim coordinator with the State Attorney’s Office who overcomes shyness to paint insightful portraits.

Tucked between Five Guys and Best Buy in a Palm Beach Gardens shopping center, 20 artists carve out creative niches in a onetime-luxury-spa-turned-artist collaborative. 

“We are a story, that’s for sure,” recent Georgia transplant Pamela Macatee said. “We’re like 20 different stories all together. Nobody’s styles are the same. But we have a common language.”

Continue reading “Inside the artists’ studio: Creativity, diversity thrive at Legacy Place”

‘My peace has come, I will pass this way no more forever’

Oklahoma Seminoles in Jupiter retrace initial footsteps their ancestors took on the Trail of Tears.

DEEP INSIDE A lush South Florida hardwood hammock, leaders of the Great Seminole Nation of Oklahoma gathered Sunday morning for an emotional journey.

As some washed their heads in the smoke of burning sage, others wandered through a patch of cypress knees off the main trail at Jupiter’s Loxahatchee River Battlefield Park.

Standing at the edge of the Loxahatchee River, they soaked in the scenery, a view that must have been similar to what their ancestors saw 184 years ago when U.S. soldiers drove them off their homeland.

Minutes later, they bowed their heads in prayer and began walking through the mud and sawgrass, retracing the initial footsteps their ancestors took on the Trail of Tears.

“We know this is a hollow and sacred place amongst our people,” Chief Lewis Johnson said later to 100 people who gathered beneath the branches of a majestic oak after watching the Oklahoma Seminoles march along a roughly mile-long route.

“Even though this was a short walk for us,” he said, “we realize what took place upon these grounds.”

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Continue reading the rest of the story about their path in 1838 after the Battle of Loxahatchee and how Jupiter figures so deeply in their story.

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Panel taps brakes on Palm Beach racetrack-warehouse conversion

Race fans persuade Zoning Commission loss of racing at PBIR outweighs benefits of warehousing.

Racing fans won the first lap Thursday in a much longer race when the Palm Beach County Zoning Commission voted 9-0 to reject plans for a warehouse complex that would replace their beloved Palm Beach International Raceway.

Continue reading “Panel taps brakes on Palm Beach racetrack-warehouse conversion”

Last days at Palm Beach International Raceway: ‘Like you’re losing a family member’

They drive for hours to race at Palm Beach County’s lone racetrack: Amateurs with muscle cars, hobbyists with pricey foreign models, seasoned drivers with off-road hot rods. Now a plan for warehouses threatens the place they love.

Marcus Falden left his digital marketing job south of Miami at 11:30 on a recent Friday morning to get to the Palm Beach International Raceway before it opened at 5 p.m. 

He’s looking forward to 11 — maybe 12, but certainly not 13 — seconds of joy, as he guns his Infiniti Q50S to 119 mph for a quarter-mile straightaway. 

Marcus Falden and his Infiniti Q50S.

As soon as it’s over, he’ll line up to do it again. If the night goes right, he’ll get in three runs before the busy track closes at 11 p.m.

He and his buddy, Miguel Cruz, also from the Kendall area, drove more than 100 miles March 25 to place their cars among the first ones lined up for the drag strip at PBIR, the former Moroso Motorsports Park on Beeline Highway west of Jupiter. 

BMW
Miguel Cruz in his BMW Z4. (Joel Engelhardt photo)

“It’s hard to explain,” Cruz said. “You’re sitting in your car, and the lights start flashing (to signal the start) and your heart starts going 100 mph. It happens so fast.”

But it won’t be happening much longer.

Continue reading “Last days at Palm Beach International Raceway: ‘Like you’re losing a family member’”

Gil Hodges: 50 years after his death in West Palm, he’s joining Baseball Hall of Fame

For two of his children, who live in Palm Beach Gardens, Cooperstown ceremony ‘a dream come true.’

FIFTY YEARS AGO, on the eve of the 1972 season, Major League Baseball players went on strike for the first time in modern history.

The strike lasted just two weeks but wiped out the final two games of spring training, including the Easter finale at old West Palm Beach Municipal Stadium between the Atlanta Braves and the visiting New York Mets.

Nearly every Mets player left town a day earlier, when the strike washed out Saturday’s game in Fort Lauderdale against the New York Yankees. With no game on Sunday, Mets manager Gil Hodges and most of his coaching staff decided to head to West Palm Beach, anyway. They wanted to take some final spring swings of their own.

Brooklyn Dodgers first baseman Gil Hodges prepares a new bat before the 1952 World Series. (Associated Press)

At the time, Hodges was among baseball’s living royalty, the Brooklyn-born “Miracle Worker’’ less than three years removed from guiding the “Amazin’ Mets” to a World Series upset over the heavily favored Baltimore Orioles. The 1969 championship only brightened the glow of his Favorite Son status around the five boroughs, a torch lit in his playing days as an All-Star first baseman who led his hometown Dodgers to six World Series.

He loved to swing a golf club, too.

On April 2, he played 27 holes at Palm Beach Lakes Golf Club, a modest course just across Congress Avenue from the ballpark. After the final round, he made his way across the parking lot toward his room at the old Ramada Inn on the Green.

“Hey, Gillie,’’ coach Joe Pignatano yelled. “What time do you want to meet for dinner?”

“7:30,” Hodges replied.

Moments later, he collapsed in front of Room 158, his head slamming against the concrete sidewalk. He’d suffered a massive heart attack.

At 5:45 p.m., he was pronounced dead on arrival at Good Samaritan Medical Center. He was just 47, two days shy of what would have been his 48th birthday.

He left behind a wife, a son, three daughters and millions of admirers.

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Two of Hodges’ children, Gil Jr. and Cindy, are neighbors in Palm Beach Gardens. As the 50th anniversary of their father’s death approaches, they have a far more inspiring moment awaiting them: Their father’s long-awaited enshrinement into the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Read the entire story by local writer Joe Capozzi at ByJoeCapozzi.com

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County official slams $200 million affordable housing plan

But County Commission allows proposals for a $200 million affordable housing bond and a $150 million water resources bond to move to the next stage.

After hearing a non-profit group’s presentation Tuesday to urge the Palm Beach County Commission to borrow $200 million to build affordable housing, the county’s director of housing and economic development took the floor. 

Jonathan Brown, a participant in crafting the Housing Leadership Council’s 28-page report recommending a bond issue, began to pick it apart, point by point, in comments to his boss’ bosses, the county commission. His words drew dismay from the report’s champion, County Commissioner Mack Bernard.

Continue reading “County official slams $200 million affordable housing plan”

$350 million at stake: County to consider borrowing for affordable housing, the environment

Are residents willing to put up $200 million to correct the housing imbalance? Would they support $150 million for water resources? County commissioners to discuss Tuesday.

Palm Beach County has never been reluctant to spend large sums of taxpayer money to tackle huge issues. 

Voters approved $100 million bonds twice in the 1990s, once to buy environmentally sensitive land and a second time to buy south county farmland. 

Without voter approval, county commissioners shelled out $269 million in 2006 to land The Scripps Research Institute and $87 million more to bring Germany’s Max Planck Florida Institute for Neuroscience to Jupiter. 

But borrowing $350 million in one fell swoop? That’s what commissioners will contemplate at a 9:30 a.m. March 29 workshop.

Continue reading “$350 million at stake: County to consider borrowing for affordable housing, the environment”