Life in West Palm Beach

The City of West Palm Beach has transformed itself from a sleepy bedroom town into a burgeoning city – thanks to a thriving downtown that is growing by the day. New civic, cultural and residential projects are popping up all over downtown, spawning millions of dollars more in current and pledged investments. In the past decade, $1.4 billion has been invested in the city’s Intracoastal Waterway-front downtown, which is anchored by two bustling entertainment-retail-residential cores.

With $142 million to be spent on the district in the next five years and a new “Downtown By Design” branding campaign that accentuates the different facets of the good life abounding in the area, downtown West Palm Beach is positioning itself for an explosion of private and public projects, with the much-anticipated City Center – a governmental center and cultural hub that will bridge the waterfront with downtown – at the helm of the renaissance.

Following a slew of multimillion-dollar enhancements to downtown’s five-block-long, four-block-wide waterfront Clematis Street District, the area now boasts new streetscapes, crime-prevention programs, a plethora of new public events, and Centennial Fountain – a daily gathering spot for families and children.

With 250,000 square feet of retailers, dozens of restaurants and a busy nightlife, the Clematis Street area has, year after year, witnessed significant additions-from the $3-million waterfront Meyer Amphitheatre to the renovated Cuillo Centre for the Arts. More recently, some 200,000 square feet of Class A office space was added-in two stunning mixed-use waterfront buildings with retail, dining and residential components, too – and more is on the way.

Across from CityPlace’s southern border, the 330,000-square-foot Palm Beach County Convention Center is the site of numerous prestigious events-from boat shows to the multimillion-dollar International Fine Art Exposition. Currently on the horizon is an adjacent 400-room convention center hotel, among other things.

Stimulating the remarkable growth of downtown is the area’s wide scope of cultural offerings. For years downtown West Palm Beach has drawn visitors and newcomers to its culture-driven locale, which made international news as early as 1992, when the $55-plus-million state-of-the-art Raymond F. Kravis Center for the Performing Arts, across the street from CityPlace, opened debt-free.

From the Kravis Center to the South Florida Science Museum to the Palm Beach Zoo to the Norton Museum of Art, now the largest art museum in Florida, culture organizations’ capital campaigns, largely floundering elsewhere in the country, have reaped tens of millions. Among the newest offerings is Palm Beach County’s first major history museum, which will be located in the now under-renovation 1916 county courthouse. Nearly $19 million will be spent to fully restore and enhance the historic courthouse.

Whether you come for the shining sun or the shining storefronts, the subdued elegance of West Palm Beach is sure to captivate you.