At the Royal Palm Beach Village Council meeting on Thursday, Nov. 16, council members voted unanimously to move toward demolishing one of the oldest public buildings in Royal Palm Beach.
The Kevin M. Harvin Center, located at 1030 Royal Palm Beach Blvd. at the front end of Royal Palm Beach Commons Park, was originally built in 1972 as the sales office for early community developer Royal Palm Beach Colony Inc. Later on, the structure served as the village’s first library before becoming a community-centered building home to several nonprofit organizations.
Village Manager Ray Liggins told the council that the building is going to need massive renovations in the near future, and if the current leases are extended, the village will be legally obligated to put a large amount of money into the deteriorated structure.
“It’s a money pit,” said Robert Hill, the village’s director of community development.
Liggins said the primary issue is that the Harvin Center needs a new HVAC (heating, ventilation and air-conditioning) system. He said village staff does not believe the building is worth investing in a new system, as well as the additional work that needs to be done on the air ducts.
Liggins, Hill and other village staff members also believe there could be other problems with the building that have yet to be uncovered.
On the recommendation of Liggins and Village Attorney Jennifer Ashton, the council agreed to extend the leases for the three tenants currently in the facility from Feb. 28, 2018 to June 30, 2018. This was to be able to allow the YWCA to end the school year before having to move to a new location.
The other two tenants are Caribbean-Americans for Community Involvement Inc. (CAFCI) and Sonshine Family Ministries Inc., which will move to the Royal Palm Beach Recreation Center while the Royal Palm Beach Cultural Center is undergoing a one-year renovation project. The expanded Cultural Center was designed with space for local nonprofits in mind.
The YWCA of Palm Beach County houses its Child Development Center at the Harvin Center, and because the programs involve children, the facility is tightly regulated by Palm Beach County and the State of Florida, YWCA CEO Suzanne Turner said.
“We are not a babysitting service, and we have standards and expectations for the facilities that house our programs — like a square-footage-to-child ratio,” Turner explained.
She went on to say that one of the services the YWCA offers at the Harvin Center is the Head Start program, which helps children to be better prepared to enter kindergarten with their peers on equal footing. “Some of our clients receive public support, while others are private payers on a sliding scale,” Turner noted.
“We are disappointed that after 20 years we will have to move, but we look forward to the opportunities a new facility will provide to our clients through our programs,” she said.
Turner said she has talked with several real estate agents, contractors and developers about any available facilities to move into or property to build upon, but she is open to anyone in the community who has leads on possible sites.
“We want to stay in the community of Royal Palm Beach,” she emphasized.
Mayor Fred Pinto and the entire council expressed a strong desire for the YWCA to stay in the community.
Liggins said that after all of the tenants have vacated the Harvin Center at the end of their extended leases in June, the village will begin preparations to demolish the building.
There was no discussion on what will be done with the property once the Harvin Center is gone, but previously, several ideas have been discussed.
For more information about the YWCA of Palm Beach County, call (561) 640-0050 or visit www.ywcapbc.org.