RPB Zoners Support Publix Renovations, Costco Gas Station Expansion Project

The Royal Palm Beach Planning & Zoning Commission approved several major projects on Tuesday, May 25, including a complete rebuilding of the village’s oldest Publix supermarket, an expansion of the gas station at Costco and the next step in the proposed Lakeside Landings townhome community.

It was three home runs for approval of the variances needed for the Publix renovations to proceed at the Crossroads shopping plaza at the northeast corner of Royal Palm Beach and Okeechobee boulevards.

The busy market had intimated that it would leave the shopping center after nearly 35 years if it couldn’t rebuild the store. Now the measure goes before the Royal Palm Beach Village Council for final approval before the plans can get underway.

To demolish the existing store and replace it with a 55,000-square-foot prototype store that takes over adjoining vacant space and adds some 6,600 square feet of new space will take just under a year, explained Publix representative Robert Wilson.

The new building will be only the second prototype store in Florida, the other being in Port St. Lucie.

The new number of parking spaces will be slightly reduced by 34 from the required number of spaces, but representatives of the Publix team pointed out that it’s not as though it will be a new store attracting new customers. It already has its customer base in the area. Additionally, the vacant stores they are going to add to the Publix footprint will not be pulling in their own traffic anymore, taking away the need for some of the parking.

The state-of-the-art food market will now have an enclosed loading dock, and a covered pedestrian walkway will be installed at the front of the store. Care has been taken not to lose any of the mature landscaping on the property, as well as to add new additional landscaping.

Village staff had requested and received from the applicant three new pedestrian walkways, which added to the necessity of having the pervious portion of the footprint reduced from 25 percent to 24 percent. The facility will also now have an Art in Public Places installation at the corner of Okeechobee and Royal Palm Beach boulevards.

“I’m all for it. I think residents would appreciate a new Publix,” Commissioner David Leland said.

The second big retailer to receive the go-ahead at the meeting was Costco in its bid to increase the number of fuel pumps at the Costco gas station, as well as increase the size of the canopy to cover them.

Scott Backman, representative for Costco, sought and received approval to add fueling stations to the Costco gas facility. They will be going to 18 fueling stations from the current 12 fueling stations. The kiosk will be moved, the canopy enlarged to cover all the pumps and the exit streamlined.

“It will take seven weeks to complete the project,” Backman said. “They do the construction one island at a time, so they don’t have to close the gas station.”

The motions for the upgrades carried unanimously.

In other business:

• Sitting as the Local Planning Agency, the board agreed to rezone a 12.95-acre parcel located off Royal Palm Beach Blvd. behind the Village Royale shopping plaza. The new zoning of RM9 for multi-family residential allows for the building of Lakeside Landings, a 100-unit townhouse development.

The property, which is north of Okeechobee Blvd. and west of Royal Palm Beach Blvd., was long projected to be either general commercial or a hotel, but has remained vacant over the past 35 years. In the ensuing decades, Royal Palm Beach has grown greatly and currently has more demand for housing and an excess inventory of commercial availabilities.

The rezoning is the second part of the approval process. A land use change was granted for the project last year.

When the council approved the land use change, the change enabled the developer to build about 100 townhome units at a density of 8.4 units per acre, noting that the traffic of the residential units will be much less than a commercial development.

• Access Specialty Animal Hospital located at 10465 Southern Blvd. received approval for new wall signage. The 24-hour animal emergency facility will have signage of the licensing organization’s logo and the “open 24 hours” designation.