A key component to the downtown master plan (DMP) is the creation of new streets in strategic locations to break up block length and facilitate more fine-grained urban infill. One of these streets is planned to run adjacent to the FEC right of way, on its west side, connecting Clematis Street south to Cityplace. This street is designated as a “Primary Pedestrian Street” in the DMP, which means it is to prioritize pedestrians and create an excellent experience. The area in which the All Aboard Florida station is proposed is the “Quadrille Business District”, per the DMP. The intent of this district:
Intent. The Quadrille business district is intended to be the main office core for downtown, and a link between the city’s two main retail centers: CityPlace and Clematis Street. It includes the greatest capacity for commercial development and building heights in the downtown and focuses the most intense development along Quadrille Boulevard to create a signature office corridor. The city will enhance Quadrille Boulevard as an urban parkway through streetscape improvements. Incentives are offered for the dedication of right-of-way (ROW) which will allow for the construction of a new road adjacent to the west side of the FEC ROW between Gardenia Street and Clematis Street. The new road will create a frontage for the QBD and promote an active urban environment. Proposed development in the QBD should consist of iconic buildings which respect the scale of Clematis Street and Rosemary Avenue by stepping down building heights along those corridors. Rosemary shall be the main pedestrian street with active use liners and ground floor active uses. Additionally, this district shall create a strong connection with the Northwest Neighborhood by extending the street grid from Banyan Boulevard to 2nd Street.
In Jeff Speck’s walkability presentation, he commented on the harmful impact that closing Datura and Evernia Streets will have to the urban fabric of downtown. To mitigate this impact, Speck says All Aboard Florida needs to employ good urban design. This means creating a real urban street as required in the DMP, hiding parking, and bringing buildings up to the street to create a continuous frontage along the street edge.
Getting this new street right is very important to the economic health of downtown as it will be the connection between the station, CityPlace, and Clematis. It will be the first impression visitors to West Palm Beach receive, and it will make redevelopment of land adjacent to it more feasible. Datura and Evernia closures were not planned as part of the downtown master plan. This new street can help mitigate the negative impacts, but it must be a high quality street design. Let’s take a page out of Victor Dover’s excellent new book, “Street Design: The Secret to Great Cities and Towns” and make an quality, memorable street here.
Here is a link with some inspirations: