By: C. Ron Allen
Visitors entering the city along West Atlantic Avenue will soon know they had arrived at someplace special.
With the near completion of the Atlantic Avenue Gateway Art Feature Project, that’s what City officials wanted whey considered sprucing up the entrance: an attention-grabbing entry.
All that in six curvy 30-foot-tall concrete columns, covered in colorful poly-carbon panels that represent the unique character and history of the city.
“That’s Delray Beach,” said longtime resident Katie Marshall after learning of the significance. “It’s such a cool project. It does more than just catches your attention. It is a unique talking point. It is a story in and of itself.”
The $1.18 million Gateway Art Feature Project is part of the city’s downtown master plan.
A team comprised of residents, property holders and business people worked on the project through its completion, said Elizabeth Burrows, spokeswoman for Delray Beach Community Redevelopment Agency, which was in charge of the project.
“Instead of talking about money, or just doing a fancy improvement that says this is where business happens, they opted for a feature that says this is who we are and that’s why the downtown is special,” she said.
The city has been trying for years to give the corridor a facelift and make downtown feel seamless from Interstate 95 to the beach.
The CRA provided nearly $1 million and Florida Department of Transportation gave the city a $200,000 grant to fund the project.
The columns, reinforced by concrete to withstand hurricane-force winds, depict the cultural traditions and ancestry of the city. Each polycarbon panels display colorful images of the city’s history, culture, fish and flowers.
“Not all cities are communities and not all communities are good at telling their stories,” Burrows said. “Delray Beach is the kind of city that recognizes its community as an asset and puts that asset in the forefront of everything it does.”
Another unique feature is the aluminum fencing along the meandering sidewalk. The fence widens in some areas and narrows in other parts to mimic the waves and sand dunes, Burrows said.
For more about the Art Feature Project and to see more photos, visit www.Delraybeachtribune.com.