The Palm Beach County Commission last week supported a request to allow 420 more residential units in the Arden community as part of its final phase.
At a comprehensive plan public hearing held Tuesday, July 28, the commissioners approved transmittal of a request by the residential community located along Southern Blvd. west of Lion Country Safari Road.
The new approval will allow a total of 2,420 homes in the community, which was capped at 2,000 homes when the original application was approved in 2004 due to traffic issues on Southern Blvd.
Collene Walter with Urban Design Kilday Studios, representing Highland Dunes Associates and the Arden Property Owners’ Association, said her clients are requesting a change to the condition that was placed on them at the time.
“It is not a change to the land use designation to the site,” Walter said. “When the land use was adopted in 2004, there was a condition placed on it that capped the number of units at 2,000, which is 1.7 units an acre. A review of traffic today shows that the cap is no longer needed.”
The original owners of the site did not develop the 1,210-acre property when it was initially approved. The land was purchased by Highland Dunes in 2014.
“They immediately started a redesign of the project to create a very unique community here in Palm Beach County, similar to ones that they have developed elsewhere in the United States,” Walter said.
The project is designed as an “agrihood,” offering produce for sale by farmers who grow on the property, as well as community gardens and abundant open space.
“Sales began in 2017 in their first phase of development, and sales for their second phase of development just commenced earlier this year,” Walter said, adding that the property is separated from other residential communities, such as Fox Trail, by 150-foot to 200-foot buffers.
The additional 420 units would be in a third phase at the north end of the property.
“When the applicant redesigned the project, the goal was to create a community with a large emphasis on healthy living, encouraging people to get outdoors and also encouraging people to interact and get to know their neighbors, hence the ‘agrihood’ community was created,” she said.
A red barn is the centerpiece of the community where produce is available and community events are held.
“Adjacent to the barn is the recreation center, and these are located central within the community,” Walter said. “As part of the rezoning, there were requirements to dedicate a 25-acre park site to the county… and a 15-acre school site to the school district. Also, a 3.7-acre trail head at the southwest corner of the site was also dedicated to Palm Beach County.”
She said that one of the most unique aspects of the development is the open space that has been created throughout.
“All of the neighborhoods have connected open space and trail systems,” Walter said. “The main central lake that runs north and south is about a mile in length and has open space and lakefront amenities around the entire perimeter of the lake open to all of the residents.”
She pointed out that Arden and Highland Dunes Associates were honored with Master Plan of the Year and Amenity of the Year awards by the National Association of Home Builders. Commissioner Melissa McKinlay made a motion to approve transmittal to the state for comment, which carried 7-0. Once approved by Tallahassee, the proposal will return to Palm Beach County for final approval.