By staff writer
January 2019 – 2 min. read
From the moment former Civil War Major Nathan Boynton laid eyes on the more than 12 acres of sunny, pristine beaches that would later bear his name, Boynton Beach has been a vision.
Beginning with the hotel Boynton built in 1895 as an escape from harsh Michigan winters, through the city’s years as a thriving farming community connected to the country by the Florida East Coast Railroad and later through its evolution into the third-largest municipality in Palm Beach County, Boynton Beach has shown both its resilience and adaptability. The city has weathered the rise and fall of the dairy industry, widespread damage from Hurricane Wilma in 2005 and more than its share of gang-related violence but is heading into 2019 led by a young mayor with his own vision for this community built on sunshine and sand.
And it’s a vision that will take Boynton Beach back to its roots.
“My vision for Boynton Beach is a family-friendly farming and fishing city,” Mayor Steven Grant told Invest: Palm Beach when he sat down with our team in December. “When Henry Flagler built the train station back in the 1920s, that’s what this city was. We’re trying to adopt a version of that designed for the 21st century.”
Part of this vision is the $500 makeover that will transform the city by turning its east end into a walkable and vibrant downtown area. Projects in this massive revitalization broke ground in 2018, and the entire effort is expected to be complete by September 2019. In addition to the four-block Town Square — which will feature a new city hall, library, playground, fire station, parks, amphitheater and parking garage — mixed-use developments like the eight-story Ocean One and the 371-unit Villages at East Ocean Avenue will bring both residential and retail space.
“We have a great retail base here,” Mayor Grant said. “But we’re going to have to start redeveloping that retail presence for the 21st century. Sears, ToysRUs and Sports Authority have all recently closed. We have a lot of the big-box retailers that will need to find a new market or model, and I feel there is a great opportunity now to transform those retail spaces for mixed-use, modern applications, whether it’s co-working spaces or incubators.”
The hope is that moving toward a pedestrian-friendly downtown center with sleek, modern shops and amenities will encourage both residents and visitors alike to spend time in Boynton Beach, sparking economic growth and at the same time instilling a larger sense of community. “We’re embracing new technology in Boynton Beach to make sure that we’re connecting and working with our residents while we all strive to develop as a community and an economy,” Mayor Grant told Invest:.
With three leaders under the age of 35 (Grant, Commissioner Christina Romelus and Commissioner Justin Katz) forming a three-to-five majority on the Boynton Beach Commission, it seems the long-awaited redevelopment of Boynton Beach is getting the youthful injection it needed. Invest: Palm Beach will be keeping a close eye on Boynton Beach’s transformation in 2019!
For more information on our interviewee and the City of Boynton Beach, visit https://www.boynton-beach.org/.