Every now and then (and I wished it happens more often) a developer and a city unite as collaborative partners. In the Town of Lake Worth, we had this occur on an urban site right in the center of town- Lucente. This project was fun for two reasons. First, the head of LW planning was an architect himself and he was interested in helping us fast track though the process. It only took a little over 7 months from contract to permit. Secondly, with some waivers from the town we were able to design affordable two-story townhomes with a cool intown flair, both architecturally and site planning wise.
From a site planning perspective, the site was tight but we designed windows of greenery in order to soften closer views of building masses (walls). We were also able to create a motor court for many of the units thereby ending up with a secondary use for kids playing and parents cooking outside their garages. It was a hard surface, but that is urban living.
The other benefits of urban design can be the proximity to public on-street parking with wide sidewalk buffers to the building setbacks. On two sides of the project this situation occurred. This allows for free over flow parking for the owners. This project did not have a pool or cabana amenity. The amenity became its location and its close proximity to shops, restaurants, grocery (Publix one block away), parks, banks and an easy 1.5-mile drive to I-95. The beach was a walkable 1 mile away. Lake Worth is known for its two one-way major downtown arteries loaded with fine restaurants, pubs and eclectic shops.
Less Risk – The affordable two-story town homes are unusual for urban infill. In general, most urban projects require land acquisition that comes with buildings on them that need to be demolished in tight quarters (expensive). Moreover, land in town is more expensive to buy, more expensive to mobilize and perform construction and requires more stories in order to make the density viable. We were lucky there as well. First, we were next to an alley so contrition traffic flow was easy. On the west side of the project there was on-street parking and a vacant lot. We made a deal with the vacant lot owner to grade and sod the land when we were finished as long as we could stage on his ground. This was invaluable.
“Lucente was a little jewel for the new citizens of Lake Worth and very an important socially responsible project for Kennedy Homes,” says Stephen Gravett then CEO of Kennedy Homes LLC. It doesn’t happen often but Lucente’s genesis as an infill property was fun and rewarding. “It’s a project that you like to show your friends,” says Gravett.
Stephen Gravett has been a real estate developer for over 45 years and was most recently CEO of Kennedy Homes for the past 11 years and is still CEO of Kennedy Development Partners (KDP) and full time Director of Operations for 5 Star Developers. He is also a state licensed broker and since 1980 a State licensed General Contractor Unlimited. He flew B-52’s in the US Air Force during the Vietnam war.