Is West Palm Beach’s traffic trial anti-business?

On a top floor of West Palm Beach’s Phillips Point office tower, the offices are plush and the water views divine.

But down on the street below, cones now block off the eastern lanes of Flagler Drive, baffling Dennis Hammond, chief executive of SandPointe Asset Management, which leases the penthouse office.

On Oct. 7, the city blocked off the eastern lanes going north on Flagler Drive, from Banyan Boulevard on the north to Lakeview Avenue on the south, for a project known as
Flagler Shore.
The street blockage ends March 1, when the Palm Beach International Boat Show takes over the waterfront.

City leaders say Flagler Shore is an experiment to attract more people to the waterfront, where they can bicycle, walk or just linger in a space free of cars. But some businesses leaders aren’t on board with the idea.

“As a business owner and employer in West Palm Beach, this decision could not be more inconvenient or frustrating,” Hammond recently wrote in a letter to city officials.

“There is plenty of green space along that stretch of roadway at present, including the park to the west of the roadway,” he wrote. “Why ‘reclaim’ more by robbing motorists of half of their traffic lanes?”

In an interview, Hammond said while the city may wish to turn Flagler Drive into a destination, the street is, in fact, a thoroughfare. It links the east side of the city between the Flagler Memorial Bridge and Royal Park Bridge, which in turn link the mainland to Palm Beach.

Having just suffered through months of traffic tie-ups over the Flagler Bridge redo, to now eliminate the eastern lanes of Flagler Drive is “goofy” as well as anti-business, Hammond said.

Hammond said his firm relies on Flagler Drive and other roads to allow staff and clients to travel to its offices. SandPointe employs 22 people at its 15,000-square-foot headquarters on the 18th floor of the west tower of Phillips Point.

Christopher Roog, West Palm Beach’s economic…

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