A New Delray Beach Historic District is Being Proposed

At their June 7, 2023 meeting, the Historic Preservation Board voted to recommend that ORDINANCE NO. 26-23 go before the Delray Beach City Commission to add a historic district overlay for Atlantic Avenue. Generally, this new Historic District will be located along Atlantic Avenue between Swinton Avenue and the intracoastal Waterway including Veteran’s Park. 

A historic overlay district is a layer of local planning regulation which incorporates the restrictions of the underlying zoning for a given geographic area, with the main goal of preserving the historic character of the neighborhood.

Michelle Hoyland, the Principal Planner for the Historical Preservation at Delray Beach Development Services, outlined the findings of the Cultural Resource Study of the area.  The period of significance was deemed to be from 1903-1968.  There was a total of seventy properties along Atlantic Avenue in the proposed area with twenty-six Non-Contributing properties and forty-four contributing properties.

The presentation offered incentives for property owners including tax credits, tax exemptions for additions, low-interest loans, grants and a whole host of other incentives. Some of these incentives would apply only to properties on the national registry.

Owner Incentives “Under Consideration” are:

  • Expedited permitting review for historic properties.

  • Rehabilitation incentives (density bonuses, additional FAR for rehabilitated historic properties, Parking adjustments for new addition or use conversions, etc.)

  • In-lieu parking relief for historic properties.

  • Transferable development rights program.

Many public comments by citizens were in favor of the board’s recommendation.
Price Patton said, "Cities across the state, Key West, Miami Beach, Dunnedin, St
Petersburg and St Augustine celebrate their heritage by creating urban historic districts." "historic districts, buildings, and museums encourage tourism bringing in $3.6 billion last year to the state of Florida"

Several in attendance spoke out against the proposed ordinance.  A consistent argument made against the historical designation was that zoning rules for Atlantic Avenue already existed.  Some noted current zoning does not allow for more than three stories. Other opposition speakers felt the amendment would add another layer of difficulty to getting approvals through the historic building department.   

Attorney Jason Evans representing an Atlantic Avenue property owner opposed the ordinance.  He expressed their disagreement with the economic benefits outlined.  “I listened to owners’ incentives and respectfully, no thank you”, he said.  “And the review process, of course, it’s gonna be simple because no one’s gonna be able to get work done.”

Michael Weiner, a property owner in the proposed area, stated that what made Atlantic Avenue great was the eclectic nature of its buildings.  He pointed out that the 63% of contributing properties were built during a span of six decades, all with different styles and with no architectural consistency.  He stated his belief that we do not need more government.

Hilary Roche, owner/manager of the Colony Hotel, said, “What I wanted to hear today was a little bit more about the regulations and the restrictions placed on a historic business. We’ve been in permitting for three years to have three front awnings in our hotel replaced ….and we can’t seem to do that even after sending decades of photos. I support the Historical District, but I need you to support me and help me run my business.”


The proposed ordinance was reviewed at the Downtown Development Authority meeting on June 12, 2023 and the DDA board voted against recommending it.  It was presented and reviewed by the Planning and Zoning Board on June 19, 2023. There were four of seven board members in attendance, and three of the four board members voted to approve recommending it to the city commission for consideration.

The proposed ordinance will be reviewed by the City Commission for a 1st and 2nd reading in July and August 2023.  How do you feel about this proposal?  We'd like to hear from you by posting your comments at this link. 

“I support the Historical District, but I need you to support me and help me run my business," Hilary Roche, Colony Hotel.”

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