‘A launch pad for science:’ Wertheim’s $100 million gift to ignite UF Scripps

‘Not one dollar … will go up north,’ UF board chair Mori Hosseini says; aim is to raise $1 billion over 10 years.

When Dr. Herbert Wertheim was a young engineer working for NASA in the 1960s, he saw miracles take flight. 

Now he’s a billionaire who just gave $100 million to the University of Florida. And he sees Jupiter as the next Cape Canaveral.

“We have what I call ‘sciencenauts,’” he told dignitaries and scientists gathered Oct. 12 at the UF Scripps campus in Abacoa. “They’re going to help us solve health-care problems, not only when you’re sick, but my number one emphasis has been how do we keep people well.

“So let’s think about Jupiter as a launch pad like we think of Cape Canaveral. And this is gonna be a launch pad for science.”

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Proposal paves way for warehouses at former racetrack

Palm Beach International Raceway owners seek County Commission’s blessing on Jan. 11 for updated 2.1 million-square-foot warehouse plan.

The conversion of a beloved local raceway to warehouses is back on track after the property owners eliminated a major hurdle that forced them to make an unscheduled pit stop in April.

The owners of the shuttered Palm Beach International Raceway west of Jupiter are moving forward on their own, without construction giant Portman Industrial, which pitched a 2.1 million-square-foot warehouse development before angry racing fans packed a meeting April 7 to block it.

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Northlake widening study pits county vs city. Again.

Palm Beach Gardens City Manager tells council that Palm Beach County engineer abruptly backed out of a meeting to share information about county’s $400,000 study of eight-laning Northlake Boulevard east of the Beeline.

Palm Beach County wants to spend $400,000 to study eight-laning Northlake Boulevard from Military Trail to Beeline Highway. 

Palm Beach Gardens and its many homeowners associations along the six-lane roadway want no such thing. 

But the potential to talk out their differences blew up publicly last week when County Engineer David Ricks refused to attend a meeting with Palm Beach Gardens City Manager Ron Ferris.

“I got a phone call from David Ricks, who said he was advised from higher ups at the administration level he is not to meet with the city of Palm Beach Gardens,” Ferris told City Council members Thursday night.

Continue readingNorthlake widening study pits county vs city. Again.

Tax relief for some: Gardens council trims tax rate

Palm Beach Gardens residents with homestead protection will pay less, those without will pay more.

For city property owners with a homestead exemption, this year’s Palm Beach Gardens tax rate amounts to a tax cut.

For the rest, about 40 percent of city taxpayers, the rate set in September by the City Council means paying more in taxes to the city.

Continue readingTax relief for some: Gardens council trims tax rate

Trump Corner yields to DeSantis Depot amid costly turn-lane construction

County to shell out $1.17 million for about a fifth of an acre and to reconfigure Publix parking lot.

The county has agreed to pay more than $1.1 million for the narrow strip of land needed to add a right turn lane on the well-known Trump Corner rally spot at PGA Boulevard and Military Trail, nearly doubling the project cost. 

Meanwhile, the Trump rallies that thrust the corner into the spotlight both before and after the 2020 election have been silenced by dirt mounds and barricades, but not for long, organizer Willy Guardiola vowed. 

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Palm Beach International Raceway: Portman Industrial’s warehouse plan spins out

Owner IRG Sports & Entertainment says it isn’t considering offers to reopen the former Moroso racetrack.

Warehouse builder Portman Industrial is no longer the driving force behind plans for the now-shuttered Palm Beach International Raceway.

While the demise of the warehouse giant has race fans hoping the property could be snatched up by a racetrack operator, the owner of the nearly 60-year-old venue slammed the brakes on that option.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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$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.

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