Possibly the most significant similarity between Jupiter’s Harbourside development and the PGA Waterfront project proposed for the Panama Hattie’s site is not what you might think. Yes, these two projects have the same developer and land planner. Yes, these two projects densely develop intracoastal-fronting sites. Yes, both projects blend huge amounts of retail, hotel, restaurant, and office square footage into a single site. However, as important as these similarities are to allowing Palm Beach Gardens to see what to expect, the most significant item is the one that is frequently overlooked.
Since the parking garage component of these development projects have no tenants and, therefore, do not pay rent, generate income, or obtain any benefit from a proximity to the water; they are located remotely. In both projects, remote translates into the corner of the lot adjacent to the public roadway intersection. It, therefore, is the least important building within the development, but the most visible building from outside the development. Internally, this logic makes sense as in maximizes the project’s access to the waterfront. Externally, however, the unsightly presence of a parking garage becomes the dominate feature of an important intersection within the respective cities.
Harbourside’s parking garage, pictured below during its construction, is the most
objectionable thing about the project. Because it is massive and uninspired, as most parking garages are, it anchors the corner of U.S. Highway One and Indiantown Road in a regrettable way that will be with us for a long time. It is easy to understand why the developer would be more interested in the internal money-generating components of the project, but it is unimaginable how the elected leaders of Jupiter would allow such a large blemish to be constructed at one of the most visible corners in the town.
The architecture at this corner needed to be delightful and provide an appropriate focal point to help soften the urbanization of this once lightly developed corner with charm and elegance. Instead, the utilitarian appearance of a garage will be the prevailing image at U.S. One and Indiantown Road for many years to come.
An early site plan of the proposed PGA Waterfront project, shown below, has the parking garage planned in a similar way. Tucked into the corner at PGA Boulevard and Ellison
Wilson Road, the potential for Palm Beach Gardens to repeat Jupiter’s mistake of allowing Harbourside to present an unsightly urban anchor at an important intersection seems high.
In addition to fighting to keep this project from destroying the historically residential character of Ellison Wilson Road that dates back to a 1920s farming community, we need to also fight to make sure the plain and generic architecture of a parking garage isn’t what fronts Ellison Wilson Road, as is presently planned.