The Chapel by the Lake development is just too Big!

Note: In a dramatic 5 1/2 hour meeting on 7/16 this project was rejected by the planning board.

Dear Readers,

If you’re reading this I know that you care about downtown West Palm Beach. I want to take a few minutes to discuss the development on the Chapel by the Lake site that is going up for a vote with the West Palm Beach Planning Board tomorrow at 6pm.

I’m not an expert in zoning and there are many experienced people who will be speaking their minds at the meeting tomorrow. I am pretty good with pictures, so I scoured the internet and grabbed a couple pictures to show the history of this unique site.

This amazing set of photos from 1963 show what a unique vision the church had for this beautiful little chapel on the lake.

The Chapel by the Lake 1963

Anyone who has been to one of their sunrise services can attest to the peaceful magic of of the spot.

Easter Sunrise Service at a Chapel by the Lake in 2013

Several years after the city granted the church the rights to reclaim the land from the lake and the chapel was built, the plot directly adjacent to it wrangled the permitting and in 1972 the 19-floor Trianon was built.

It’s hard to describe how ugly the Trianon is, but let’s just put it this way: Name a building in West Palm Beach, and you’ll find at least five on my website. I just searched for Trianon and couldn’t find any; I had to pull one out of google maps.

19-Story Trianon on Flagler
19-Story Trianon on Flagler

Zip forward to 2013 and the First Baptist Church has found themselves with cash flow issues. There are buildings on the church site which need to be completely renovated before they can be used, and the money from the sale of the Chapel by the Lake site can finance much of the re-development.

Enter a developer who offers to solve the financial problems with the development of a high end 29-story building which will have 100 “full-service” condos starting at $4.5 million for a modest 5,000 sq/ft unit.

Developer rendering of the “Beast to the East”

This development will not add ANY value to our waterfront other than the expanded tax base. There will be no amenities other than those the residents can use, no nice restaurants that we can frequent. Much like Trianon, it will sit unused for eight months out of the year and cast a massive shadow onto the rest of our waterfront.

To put the massive size of this building into perspective, here’s a list of the other tall buildings in West Palm Beach and how they will size up to the “Beast to the East”

Beast to the East will be 90 ft taller than any other building in West Palm Beach
Beast to the East will be 90 ft taller than any other building in West Palm Beach

Notice how tall the neighboring Trianon is? 220ft! Now scroll back up and take a look at the picture of the Trianon and try to imagine a building nearly TWICE as tall! It’s just too big!

This parcel of land is currently zoned as CS (Community Service) and the City Commission with agreement from the Planning Board has to approve a change from CS to MF (Multi-Family) to enable the development of this condo. This process will start on Tuesday at the Planning meeting.

I believe that there is a place for large developments, but that place is NOT on our waterfront. It may work for South Beach but it will be an eyesore in West Palm Beach.

Please come to the Planning Meeting at 6pm at City Hall and voice your opinion on whether you think that this specific development is right for our waterfront.

To follow ongoing development see these two pages on Facebook – Chapel By The Lake WPB – Preserve this Ministry & Citizens for Responsible Growth.