Historic Lake Worth is Worth Saving

HISTORIC LAKE WORTH IS WORTH SAVING

Over the last few years, the Lake Worth Community Redevelopment Agency (“CRA”) has acquired 10 homes in the Old Town Historic District of Lake Worth, between S. L Street and S. M Street. Last September the CRA applied to the historic preservation board (“HRPB”) for all 10 homes to be demolished and/or relocated, but with no definite plans for new construction.  The HRPB granted the request on a 5 to 2 vote, with the condition that any of the 7 “contributing” properties (i.e. of more historic value) that had not been relocated could be demolished only upon approval of a concurrent plan for new construction. Of the 3 “non-contributing” homes that are now subject to demolition, 2 were designed by the prominent local architect, Arthur L. Weeks, and are eligible for re-classification. The City demolished these two buildings in a hurry before our Appeal could be heard by the Circuit Court.  Currently a poorly sodded lawn is in their place.

Members of the public have raised concerns about the lack of transparency in the planning process, and the loss of these homes in their original historic context.  For example, the project was not listed along with their other projects on the CRA’s website; and the CRA’s Preliminary Planning Report (“Massing Study”) was released to the public just one (1) day before the September hearing, affording little time for public review and informed comment. No charette had been held to garner public support, as has been the practice for other projects this size. Moreover, public comments at this hearing were limited to just 3 minutes.  

Two of the affected parties (i.e. situated within 400 feet of the project) appealed the HRPB’s decision to the City Commission, based on discussions with a national law firm in D.C. who specialize in historic preservation.  However, the basis of the appeal was necessarily restricted to errors of law or allegations of an arbitrary and capricious decision by HRPB, and argument outside this scope was to be disregarded by the Commission. 

At the appeal hearing on January 7th public comment was passionately against the CRA’s plans, on grounds ranging from lack of transparency at City Hall, to the whole-scale forfeiture of a downtown block in return for retail space of questionable character at taxpayers’ expense.

In considering whether to grant the appeal, the Commission was advised not to consider public comment outside the legal grounds stated above. The appeal was denied, but not without an expression of regret by more than one Commissioner, given the overwhelming public outcry that was expressed at the hearing. 

Legal counsel from two national firms specializing in historic preservation have advised that there are solid grounds for a Circuit Court to overturn the Commissions denial of the appeal, based on the City’s robust historic preservation Code and Redevelopment Plan. Moreover, the project may be in violation of the terms on which the CRA was granted $23m in federal funds for redevelopment. 

By posting this page, some members of the community are seeking to raise funds to (a) obtain an injunction to prevent demolition before the courts hear an appeal, and to either (i) consider alternative uses, such as renovation of the properties (per Section 23.5-4(k)4a of the Lake Worth Code); or (ii) require the CRA to rehabilitate the properties while seeking qualifying bids from developers before any demolition / relocation occurs.

 GoFundMe Giving Guarantee

This fundraiser mentions donating through another platform, but please know that only donations made on GoFundMe are protected by the GoFundMe Giving Guarantee.

  • Anonymous 
    • $200 
    • 30 mos
  • Anonymous 
    • $20 
    • 30 mos
  • Anonymous 
    • $8 
    • 30 mos
  • Jill Karlin 
    • $10 
    • 30 mos
  • Danea Leigh 
    • $30 
    • 30 mos
See all

Organizer

Thomas Conboy 
Organizer
Lake Worth, FL