Palm Beach County Housing Boom Moves West
A housing boom is occurring in Western Palm Beach County in the Agricultural Reserve. Nearly 10,000 homes have been approved and are in various stages of construction and development within the Ag Reserve, which spans from Boca Raton through Delray Beach to Boynton Beach in the far western reaches of the county. The boom looks much like the rapid rise of Weston and Western Pembroke pines in the 90’s and 00’s. The Broward construction boom differs from the Palm Beach construction only because the Broward boom was made possible because of the construction I-75 and I-595 and necessary because of Hurricane Andrew. No such compelling forces are driving the boom in Palm Beach except for the continued migration of Broward County and Miami-Dade residents north and the lack of availability of large tracts of land elsewhere in Palm Beach County or the southern counties.
Like the expansion of Broward in the 90’s and Dade County in the 60’s and 70’s, the movement west has encroached into environmentally sensitive land. The Ag Reserve was created to preserve farmland and wetlands in areas to enhance agricultural activities, environmental and water resources and open space by limiting uses to agricultural, conservation, low density residential and non-residential uses which serve the needs of farmworkers and residents. The land use plan requires developers to preserve 1 1/2 acres for ever acre developed.
The major developers with approved projects in the Ag Reserve are GL Homes, standard Pacific Homes and Ansca Homes. GL Homes is currently developing 3 communities: 7 Bridges, Valencia Cove and Valencia Bay. Standard Pacific is building Palm Meadows and Ansca recently received approval for a new community of 283 homes.
Palm Beach’s land use plan and the Ag Reserve is an effort at smart growth management and to strike balance between development and environmental concerns in sensitive areas. As the projects proceed, we’ll see whether the plan is successful.