Palm Beach Town Council to consider revised plans for Paramount Theatre redevelopment


Revised plans to redevelop the historic Paramount Theatre Building will be presented to the Town Council — again — at its development review meeting Wednesday.

Heeding direction from council members who expressed concerns about traffic, density and other impacts at three previous meetings this year, representatives will present their latest vision for the nearly century-old property, which Palm Beach resident Lester Woerner and his son, Trent, bought in 2021.

Discussion is set to begin at 2 p.m.

The Woerners paid $14 million for the Paramount property through their holding company, Woerner Holdings LP. They said they plan to rehabilitate the landmarked building, which is listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

“I had a passion when I acquired it to restore it back to its grandeur and have an opportunity for the people of Palm Beach to be able to come to events here,” Woerner told the Daily News in January.

Plans for the redevelopment of the Paramount Theatre have been revised numerous times during the past several years. Woerner and his team originally planned a major renovation of the 40,000-square-foot theater, as well as an extensive redevelopment of the surface parking lot directly to the south.

A man walks a dog along Sunrise Avenue near the Paramount Theatre Building in this file photo. Revised plans to redevelop the historic property will be presented to the Town Council Wednesday.A man walks a dog along Sunrise Avenue near the Paramount Theatre Building in this file photo. Revised plans to redevelop the historic property will be presented to the Town Council Wednesday.

A man walks a dog along Sunrise Avenue near the Paramount Theatre Building in this file photo. Revised plans to redevelop the historic property will be presented to the Town Council Wednesday.

Plans included two public-facing restaurants, a 250-seat event space and four 8,000-square-foot, multi-story homes that would be built on the parking lot, with two below-ground parking levels and retail on the first floor of the three houses that would face North County Road.

But opposition was stiff, and Woerner ultimately eliminated the public-facing restaurants and added a 225-member private club and a small public-facing restaurant that would be open for breakfast and lunch. Further revisions included the elimination of the public event space and the public-facing restaurant. The private club was increased to 475 members from 225, while the total square footage of the four multi-story homes was reduced.

Council members rejected those plans in January, and then rejected revised plans presented in March that maintained the 475-member private club, but eliminated the multi-story homes and 18 of the 20 previously requested variances. Those plans also did not include a retail component, which concerned some council members. Council President Bobbie Lindsay asked Woerner to consider reinstating retail in the project’s plans as well as a small restaurant.

A terrace is shown in this rendering of the Paramount Theatre building. Modified plans to restore the nearly century-old building will be presented to the Town Council on Wednesday.A terrace is shown in this rendering of the Paramount Theatre building. Modified plans to restore the nearly century-old building will be presented to the Town Council on Wednesday.

A terrace is shown in this rendering of the Paramount Theatre building. Modified plans to restore the nearly century-old building will be presented to the Town Council on Wednesday.

“We’d like to produce something that makes sense for the community, for the town, that poses the least amount of disruption to the neighborhood,” Lindsay said. “I’m … concerned about the fact that the way this is currently configured, the whole building is cut off.”

Currently, the property counts 16 tenants, including offices that house the Palm Beach Police & Fire Foundation and the Palm Beach Civic Association. Storefront tenants include Palm Beach Pilates, French Wine Merchant and Chik Monk.

The council deferred the project a third time in April to allow for the incorporation of data collected through an updated traffic and parking study commissioned by the town.

Daniel Lobitz, right, of of Robert A.M. Stern Architects, talks to people who are attending the Town Council's development review meeting in January. Lobitz discussed possible architectural plans for the Paramount Theatre.Daniel Lobitz, right, of of Robert A.M. Stern Architects, talks to people who are attending the Town Council's development review meeting in January. Lobitz discussed possible architectural plans for the Paramount Theatre.

Daniel Lobitz, right, of of Robert A.M. Stern Architects, talks to people who are attending the Town Council’s development review meeting in January. Lobitz discussed possible architectural plans for the Paramount Theatre.

That study has been completed, and council members approved its findings last month.

Conceptual plans to be presented Wednesday call for the reinstatement of the existing retail exterior spaces, though those plans would be evaluated separately if Woerner’s application for club and church uses is approved, according to town documents.

Sunday morning church services were held inside the theater for nearly three decades before the property’s sale, and they will be included in redevelopment plans, Woerner said.

Woerner said he also would be willing to open the renovated theater building to the public for lectures or cultural events that would be scheduled for off-peak hours “in order to avoid any traffic impacts.” Events could include lectures, art shows, Civic Association events, movie screenings or other town-serving uses that would be beneficial to the neighborhood, according to town documents.

Additionally, in an effort to address council members’ comments regarding supplemental overflow parking, Woener said he has entered into an agreement to utilize the surface parking lot at 40 Cocoanut Row for supplemental valet parking on weekdays after 5 p.m. and on weekends.

The 55 additional spaces result in 101 parking spaces that are available to accommodate parking needs for the project, according to town documents. A variance will be required for these spaces as the location of the parking lot is more than 500 feet away from the property.

Finally, Woerner has proposed limits to be placed on occupancy of the private club in an effort to “de-intensify” the property.

Currently, the existing structure is permitted to have 1,123 occupants, according to the town, but Woerner said no more than 412 would be permitted at any given time.

“As the owner, I am as concerned as the community is on the impact traffic has on the island,” Woerner told the Daily News. “Now, the town has a great opportunity to work together and approve this plan, which will be a great win for Palm Beach.”

Council members will meet at 9:30 a.m. Tuesday at Town Hall for their regular meeting and at 9:30 a.m. Wednesday for development review. Members of the public can participate in person or via Zoom. Those wishing to make public comments virtually can access the Zoom link on the town’s Meeting Audio page.

Jodie Wagner is a journalist at the Palm Beach Daily News, part of the USA TODAY Florida Network. You can reach her at jwagner@pbdailynews.com. Help support our journalism. Subscribe today.

This article originally appeared on Palm Beach Daily News: Paramount Theatre renovation plans back before Palm Beach Town Council



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