The Royal Palm Beach Village Council on Thursday, Dec. 16 discussed the possibility of splitting a small parcel of village-owned property between two nearby commercial property owners.
Two property owners at the back of the Royal Plaza commercial complex applied to buy the approximately one-acre piece of village land at 6845 Camellia Park Drive on the south side of Seminole Palms Drive west of the recently vacated Ideal School.
Paint Lux, an auto body business, and Keiser University, which purchased the former Ideal School site, both want the village-owned property, which is adjacent to both businesses.
Angelle and Corey Gibson, owners of Paint Lux at 500 Royal Plaza Road, have been in business for 10 years. They requested to purchase the parcel with the intent to change the use to a private, secured parking area and enclose the site with a fence, hedge and gate, and install lighting and security cameras.
“There are very few family-owned body shops in Royal Palm Beach,” Corey Gibson said. “There have been resolutions passed to allow our body shop to exist. I know we do not have the same resources as Keiser, but we are a small, local business.”
She said their shop does not have adequate space to store vehicles that are in the shop for repair, and that more families are opting to refurbish their vehicles rather than buy new ones, adding that they have a contract with the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office to repair its vehicles.
Keiser University intends to incorporate the parcel into its recent purchase of the two former Ideal School buildings, also known as the 300 and 400 buildings at Royal Commerce Park.
Attorney Andrea Keiser, representing Keiser University, Southeastern University, Primrose Preschool and Artemis Investments, said there is a daycare shortage nationwide.
“More than 50 percent of families don’t have access to childcare, and we understand that the Ideal School was a pivotal school in your community, and we want to continue the operations of the preschool,” Keiser said, adding that Keiser University has more than 40 years of experience in workforce training. “We actually want to take it a step further and engage in this exciting new collaboration between Keiser University and the preschool.”
She explained that the preschool will be located in the 400 building of the campus, with university classes located in the 300 building, which was once Ideal’s middle school.
“The students in the early learning program will go over to the preschool program and get hands-on training,” Keiser said, explaining that the university would like to purchase the village property on the west side of the 300 building for parking, so parents can park their cars and drop off their children, as well as for students to park. “We want to landscape it and beautify it and make it look like it’s incorporated into our development.”
She added that if the university does not have additional parking, it would not be able to have as many students there. For its initial year, the university expects to have 150 to 200 students, but future phases would require additional parking. She added that the children’s playground on east side of the site will have to be expanded, which will eat up more parking spaces.
Village Manager Ray Liggins said the village property is about an acre, which could accommodate about 100 cars.
Mayor Fred Pinto suggested splitting the property between Paint Lux and Keiser. “Half is better than nothing,” he said.
Kaiser said she would be happy to talk to her client as well as the Paint Lux owners about splitting the property, reminding the council that Keiser’s intention to add more students would require additional parking, because Ideal’s old middle school did not require parking.
Liggins added that the body shop is a legal nonconforming use, and Keiser is not.
Village Attorney Keith Davis said splitting the property would need to come back to the council for further consideration. “If the buyers are interested in purchasing, they have to figure out how to divide it,” Davis said.
Liggins suggested letting the two interested parties discuss it. “To develop it, it would have to be platted,” he said, adding that the discussion for the evening was whether or not the council wanted to sell the land, which is currently underutilized.
Councilwoman Selena Samios made a motion to approve the conveyance of the property, which carried 5-0.