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Downtown Delray Beach

In the 1980s, the city of Delray Beach experienced increased urban blight; at its worst, the vacancy rate in downtown reached 40 percent. Officials created a Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA) in 1985 to address the causes. The City of Delray Beach calmed traffic in key areas and restored buildings in its downtown. Atlantic Avenue was transformed into a pedestrian-friendly corridor of small-scale businesses. Several early buildings on Atlantic are still in use, including City Hall, originally a one-story building in 1904 and expanded to two stories in 1906. The Cromer Building at S. E. 5th Avenue was the first concrete building in town and housed the Bank of Delray, established in 1911.

A group of concerned citizens established a task force to save the original elementary and high school buildings as an impetus to revitalize downtown. They raised over $7 million and worked with the city to acquire the property on Swinton Avenue, now Old School Square. In 1990 the 1913 elementary building was restored as the Cornell Museum of Art and History. The Crest Theatre, originally the high school auditorium, opened in 1993 in the restored 1925 high school building. Many other early buildings have been preserved throughout the city. Delray Beach’s downtown restoration earned it honors in 1993 as an All-America City from the National Civic League. Two years later, Florida Trend magazine called Delray Beach the state’s best-run city.

With assistance from the Treasure Coast Regional Planning Council, 200 citizens of Delray Beach participated in a weeklong charrette in 2001, resulting in the Downtown Delray Beach Master Plan a year later.

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