The owners of the Palm House hotel property have hammered out a settlement with their Brazilian Avenue neighbors, who have withdrawn their objections to the long-delayed renovation project at 160 Royal Palm Way in Palm Beach.
The Architectural Commission this month reviewed — and approved — new landscape buffers and other changes designed to help mitigate noise, privacy and light-spillage concerns previously raised by the neighbors.
Virginia C. Simmons of 133 Brazilian Ave. and Timothy and Gayle DeVries of 141 Brazilian Ave. own the houses and a vacant lot that back up to the south side of the Palm House property.
“Our client is very pleased with the changes, and we support all (zoning-code) variance and special exceptions that will be needed” to accommodate the settlement requirements, said attorney Donald J. Lunny Jr., who represented Simmons.
The board’s approval on Dec. 18 brings the Palm House one step closer to revitalization, six years after construction ground to a halt amid a variety of complex legal entanglements.
The commission’s vote also paves the way for the project to go before the Town Council on Jan 13. The council must sign off on a variety of zoning and site-plan modifications, involving the hotel’s operations — from outdoor dining and other amenities on the pool deck, to more seating in the banquet room and parking.
The renovation plans have undergone several major changes since they were first presented to the architectural board in September.
The project was designed by a team led by architect Sean McLendon of Cooper Carry in Atlanta for the hotel’s latest owner, a company affiliated with London + Regional Properties. The hotel property changed hands for about $40 million in May 2019 via a private sale approved by a bankruptcy court. No construction work has been carried out at the shuttered-and-vacant building since fall 2014.
In October, attorneys representing the neighbors told the board that proposed landscaping on the south side was inadequate to shield their properties. The neighbors also objected to other parts of the project, including new restroom and bar facilities near the pool and, on the east side of the property, a so-called “prep kitchen” to service the banquet room.
At the October meeting, commissioners approved the bulk of the architecture for the hotel but deferred for restudy the landscape plan, in part because of concerns expressed by the neighbors.
During their virtual meeting held via Zoom on Dec. 18, the commissioners generally liked the changes they saw. They voted 6-1 to approve the landscaping plan with minor changes. Commissioner Maisie Grace dissented.
The changes include additional planters by the pool area and a higher wall along the southern perimeter. The prep kitchen also will have a single door rather than the double one originally proposed.
As part of their approval, commissioners demanded that the height of a new metal-picket gate be lowered at the east service drive opening onto Royal Palm Way. The board also approved a new paint color for the building — a soft salmon.
“I’m really happy with the fact that this whole process has shown cooperation between the neighbors and the developer,” said board Vice Chairman Robert N. Garrison.
Attorney John Eubanks, whose clients are the DeVrieses, echoed Garrison’s sentiments.
“We applaud the fact that the applicant has been willing to work with us,” Eubanks said.