County OKs high-density apartment complex next to LWB-area senior community

Site of the apartment complex that will abut Valencia Shores near the Hypoluxo and Lyons Road intersection is marked in red
Site of the apartment complex that will abut Valencia Shores near the Hypoluxo and Lyons Road intersection is marked in red

LAKE WORTH BEACH — Valencia Shores has lost its fight to block a high-density apartment complex from being built to the north of the 1,143-home retirement community.

Palm Beach County commissioners approved plans by a 6-1 vote for the Villages at Windsor, a development that will abut Valencia Shores and include four buildings containing 187 apartments. Forty-seven will be workforce housing, where rents will be linked to one's income.

Ed Brookes, a member of the Valencia Shores HOA board, said he was disappointed with the decision but not surprised. The retirement community has fought the development for more than a year.

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The project is the last development targeted for the four corners at the intersection of Lyons and Hypoluxo, west of Lake Worth Beach. The Town Commons, a Publix-anchored shopping center, is on the northeast corner and a 410-bed congregate-living facility is on the southwest corner. A mixed-use development has been approved on the northwest corner with construction expected to soon begin.

"They (commissioners) took the easy way out," said Brookes, adding that they did not appear to consider the big picture of what the Hypoluxo and Lyons Road intersection will look like in a few years. Brookes said Valencia Shores, built in the early 2000s, realizes that something will be built eventually at the 12-acre site. The issue, he said, is density.

But in the end, the inclusion of the 47 on-site apartments for workforce housing appealed to county commissioners. Commissioner Maria Sachs cast the lone no note.

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County staff acknowledged that the Villages at Windsor is at a higher density than surrounding land uses, including Valencia Shores, but said the higher density is appropriate considering the site’s location at the intersection of two major roads.

Alex Akel, a principal of Civic Hypoluxo Holding,, the applicant, praised the decision to allow his project to move forward. "This area is very undeserved when it comes to market-rate and workforce rentals," Akel said. "We can't wait to build a beautiful community. We expect demand to be very strong."

Akel needed zoning changes on the 12-acre site to build the project because current zoning restricts development to two units per acre; Akel obtained approval to build eight units to the acre and with a bonus for the workforce housing units was able to bring the density to nearly 16 units per acre. The existing per-acre density at Valencia Shores is only 2.5 units.

County: Valencia Shores will be protected

County planners say they included conditions to protect Valencia Shores. The Villages at Windsor will have a transition and a buffer to the adjacent residences. Buildings have been oriented toward Hypoluxo Road and a significant separation and retention area will be located along the south side of the property, which abuts The Shores.

The apartment complex will have a clubhouse, a fitness center, an outdoor pool and patio, a children's playground and a game room. Each building will have elevators.

Plans for the site have shifted over the years. In 2010, approval was obtained for a child day-care center and a 350-student private school. After those plans were abandoned, the Akels obtained the property and approval for a 290-bed congregate-living facility, but those plans have been withdrawn and replaced with the request to build the apartment complex.

Mike Diamond is a journalist at The Palm Beach Post, part of the USA TODAY Florida Network. He covers Palm Beach County government and transportation. You can reach him at Help support local journalism. Subscribe today

This article originally appeared on Palm Beach Post: Villages at Windsor apartment complex approved near Valencia Shores