New Office and Retail Project Planned for Jupiter, Fla.

Owners of the largest vacant property on Indiantown Road, one of the county's most traffic-choked streets, want to build a six-building office/retail complex that would include two five-story buildings for biotech research.

The 86,000-square-foot Jupiter Shoppes and Life Sciences Center would be on 13 acres on the north side of Indiantown Road, at the Center Street intersection, east of the Cinquez Park subdivision.

"We want to build something upscale. We're very flexible with our plans," said John Hoecker, president of Jupiter Realty Co., which owns the property.

A Jupiter planning and zoning meeting regarding the property was scheduled for Nov. 14, but the meeting was rescheduled for Dec. 12 at the request of the owners.

Vice Mayor Jim Kuretski said the project has no chance for approval. Instead, the town should buy all or part of the property and turn it into a public park, he said. The town could use money from a $17 million bond to buy the land.

Overwhelmingly approved by town voters two years ago, the bond is for buying and preserving environmentally sensitive land. So far, three parcels have been bought. About $12 million remains in the bond fund. The council also could approve spending money out of the town's general fund to buy the land.

Four years ago, Target withdrew plans to build a store on the same property after local officials voiced concerns about traffic.

"That's a huge amount of retail/office space. It'll never happen. There's too much traffic already," said Kuretski.

Daily traffic at the Indiantown Road and Center Street intersection is already over capacity, according to county traffic standards. About 56,700 vehicles on Indiantown Road pass through the Center Street intersection every day. The capacity is 49,200.

On Center Street, about 14,900 vehicles pass through the intersection daily. The capacity is 12,300, according to January 2006 Palm Beach County traffic counts.

"Adding more development in that area would be a nightmare," said Jupiter's transportation project coordinator, Chang-Jen Lan.

The two five-story biotech buildings would be next to the white house with green trim on Carver Avenue that Louise Chaney has called home for about 22 years. Several other older residents have homes along Carver Avenue, a dirt road in the heart of one of Jupiter's original neighborhoods.

"If they develop that land, I hope they pave the street," said Chaney, 68. "It's hard to keep my house clean with that dirt. I would sell if they offered me a good price."

Rather than developing the property, Kuretski said the town could buy about nine acres for a public park. The owners could turn the other four acres along Center Street into about 25,000 square feet of office/retail. That would give the owners about one-fourth of the office/retail space they are proposing. The town has done an appraisal on the property, but Jupiter Parks and Recreation Director Russ Ruskay would not disclose the value.

"The owners can't get all the office/retail space they are proposing. But I don't think they are gaming us. They are just trying to get the best use of their property," Kuretski said.

Jupiter Realty is scheduled to bring the first phase of the Jupiter Shoppes plan to the Town Council on Jan. 16. The first phase includes about 25,000 square feet in two buildings on Indiantown Road and Center Street.

Jupiter Shoppes would include two buildings for retail and a bank without a drive-through window facing Indiantown Road just west of the Advance Auto Parts store at Yancy Avenue. The two biotech buildings, five stories each, would be behind the retail stores.

Before construction could begin, the following would have to happen:

- Annexation. Not all of the property is within the town boundaries of Jupiter. The town council must approve the annexation of several small parcels on the south and west sides of the property for the current design proposal to be done.

- Zoning and land use. The property is zoned for commercial and residential uses. The town council would have to rezone the land to allow the development.

- Traffic. The current plan shows entry on Yancy Avenue and Carver Avenue. The town council must determine whether Indiantown Road can handle the increased traffic. Current plans call for no entry or exit on Center Street or Indiantown Road.

Land bought under $17 million bond

Delaware Scrub: 16 acres on the north side of Indiantown Road, between Delaware Boulevard and Jones Creek. $7 million.

Jones Creek: 1.5 acres just south of Delaware Scrub. $1.4 million

Witta site, also called Nelson property: Three acres at Center Street and Indiantown Road, bordering Sims Creek. $2.5 million.