It’s blessed in practical ways as well, with abundant parking, helpful police and a supportive landlord.
“It’s the best location in the entire county,” Guardiola says.
But this fall the corner of Military Trail and PGA Boulevard is going to be ripped up in a $1.3 million county construction project to add a right-turn lane.
And construction is expected to last about 10 months, meaning that 13-foot wide strip along southbound Military Trail will be off limits as the race for Florida governor heats up.
“It’s going to kill us,” Guardiola said when informed of the county’s road construction plan. “That’s where I’m going to hold all my DeSantis rallies.”
‘A captive audience’
Once construction is done, as the 2024 presidential election looms, the corner will have shrunk. It’s not exactly huge now. The lawn pitches sharply upward from the sidewalk leading to a flower bed and shrubs surrounding the brick-bordered sign proclaiming Garden Square Shoppes.
Guardiola, president of Christian on a Mission, loves it because of ample parking nearby but when more than 1,000 flag-waving Trump supporters show up the patch of grass and sidewalk outside the Bank of America branch fills fast.
For political purposes, the long wait drivers endure to turn right is a plus —”a captive audience,” Guardiola calls them.
“It could be positive or it could be negative. If it’s Trump people, it could be great,” he said. When it’s anti-Trumpers, the former college basketball referee urges supporters to ignore catcalls and say nothing.
Rallies open with prayer
He credits the peaceful nature of the corner, which began hosting Trump rallies in June 2016, to police presence and prayer.
At the start of each rally, usually held at 4:30 p.m. on Fridays, a friend from his church blesses the site with holy water. The group recites a prayer.
“We’ve never had an incident,” he said. “It’s the holy water. It’s prayer. … Police and prayer.”
Before the 2016 Trump campaign, the corner often drew local sign-wavers on election day. But Guardiola believes the colorful Trump rallies have usurped that old identity. “We went big. This is national. It isn’t local,” he said. “It sets the tone for the state of Florida.”
That help explains his reaction in September, after Democrats began holding Wednesday rallies on Trump Corner to counter his Friday rallies.
“This isn’t just any intersection. I mean this is Trump corner. It’s got a name. It’s nationally known,” Guardiola told CBS-12. “And for another group to come out here, it’s just a lack of respect. I’ll say it over and over again. I would never do that to anybody.”
Democrats were aghast.
“I can’t believe you think this corner is yours. This is public property,” former Gardens Mayor Eric Jablin, a Democrat who helped organize the rallies, said this week. “They’re getting their just rewards (with the construction) as far as I’m concerned.”
Strip of land costs $386,000
The county engineer in charge of the project said she had never heard of Trump Corner and the corner’s political calling card had nothing to do with the decision to add the turn lane. The need came up in routine traffic reviews, said Kathleen Farrell, the county’s assistant director for roadway production, and the wheels of government began turning.
The county sued the owners of the Garden Square Shoppes, Jan Real Estate, in December to seize a 355-foot long strip that amounts to about a fifth of an acre. In April, a Palm Beach County Circuit judge approved the county’s bottom line offer, $386,370, for the 13-foot wide strip and an adjoining 6 feet. Jan Real Estate can challenge the valuation and go to trial if it believes it is due more money.
Five bids came in on June 1, ranging from $1.26 million to $1.71 million. The winning bidder must be approved by the Palm Beach County Commission, expected in September or October, before construction can begin.
The county originally estimated the job would take 150 days but with material shortages caused by the pandemic it increased the time to 300 days.
That means if work begins in November, it could last until the end of August.
Guardiola said he would show up to contest the plan.
“I will be there to stake my claim. This has been our corner for five years.”
A week after Palm Beach Gardens threatened to sue, the county said it still didn’t believe the light is warranted but it acknowledged a 2016 agreement “inadvertently” gave Gardens the power to decide, as Gardens City Attorney Max Lohman had insisted.
On Thursday, the Palm Beach Gardens City Council gave their attorney the authority to take the county to court — not over the county’s refusal to allow the stoplight, although that remains likely, but over the county’s failure to promptly fulfill a city public records request.
Faster Brightline trains raise specter of more deaths even as quiet zones two years away.
Railroad quiet zones are coming to Palm Beach Gardens and north county.
But not until 2023, at the earliest. And not without some risk.
The sounds of silence won’t break out over north county any earlier than 2023, officials say, even though the $2.2 million needed to pay for more gates and other safety features at 26 crossings is in hand.
That’s because the final testing of safety measures can’t start until the Brightline passenger service completes construction on a second set of tracks, not just in Palm Beach County but all the way to Orlando. That $2.7 billion job is not scheduled to be done until the final months of 2022.
Seacoast Utility Authority replaces aging headquarters with $21 million campus.
When you turn on your faucet, you expect water tocome gushing out. When you flush your toilet, you expect the water to go swirling away.
In Palm Beach Gardens, Lake Park, North Palm Beach and Juno Beach, that has meant relying on the Seacoast Utility Authority, housed for decades in its low-slung, aging headquarters next to the water plant on Hood Road.
Seacoast remains, but after 40 years its headquarters are gone.
In April, the utility started in 1955 by Lake Park and Palm Beach Gardens founder John D. MacArthur completes its move into a stylish series of blue buildings accented by brown stone that nearly doubles its space, protects against hurricanes and modernizes meeting rooms, warehouse space and labs.
County Commissioner Robert Weinroth raised the prospect Thursday during a discussion of creating bus lanes on major roads at the monthly meeting of the Palm Beach County Transportation Planning Agency board, which is made up of 21 elected officials, including five county commissioners.