All downtown development is subject to the provisions of the Downtown Master Plan (DMP) and urban code to ensure that all new buildings contribute to the urban life of the city. The Downtown Master Plan, originally adopted in 1995 and subsequently amended in 2007, intends to develop a 24-hour, live-work-play environment for the City of West Palm Beach. Its goal is to provide a unified vision of the downtown, inspiring confidence and encouraging new development which respects the unique character and identity of the area. It is designed to ensure the entire downtown area is:
Unified: A place of unity, which its residents and visitors, at work or play, feel attached to and responsible for;
Unique: A place of unique character with public spaces in which people feel comfortable together;
Consistent: A place of common vision and physical predictability for all new building, to ensure security of investment for property owners and developers as well as an aesthetic experience for users;
Memorable: A memorable place of human interaction, safety, and commercial and cultural benefit;
Readers of the Master Plan are encouraged to regard it as part of the ongoing planning history of West Palm Beach. The Plan reinforces historical design concepts which, by their continuing survival in the Downtown, have proved their validity for evolving conditions. It proposes that new action support the City's traditions rather than departs from them, so that new building does not devalue the old.
When originally adopted, the DMP was prepared for a downtown experiencing the typical decline of a small American City during the 1970’s and 1980’s. The Downtown population was diminishing; the shopping areas had been displaced to the suburbs and surface parking lots were increasingly replacing old structures. Despite these conditions, in 1994, the rebuilding of the downtown area was an effort clearly identified by the citizens of West Palm Beach as a valuable cause to pursue.
Since 1995, the Downtown has substantially changed. Downtown population has increased from 4,569 residents in 2000 to 6,470 in 2005, to 12,859 residents by 2010. At the same time, 3,830 new residential units have been built since 1994, resulting in a residential stock of 6,519 by 2015. In addition, more than 1,000 units are currently under construction or under planning process. Also, 1,920,284 square feet of non-residential uses have been built since 1994.
Despite the changes, the rebuilding of the downtown is still a valid goal. The downtown area still has approximately 125 acres of vacant land, including parking lots, and it remains for the Master Plan to bring the development of all these vacant parcels together in a unified vision of a Downtown, inspiring confidence and encouraging new development without waiting for the next real estate boom.
Contact Ana Maria Aponte, City Urban Designer at (561) 822-1439 or email@example.com.