U.S. District Judge Christopher Cooper ruled that the lawsuits were moot because the U.S. Department of Transportation has withdrawn its 2014 approval granting Brightline permission to sell up to $1.75 billion in bonds to pay for the rail project.
In court documents filed in November, the U.S. Department of Transportation said it had withdrawn its original approval, and instead granted All Aboard provisional permission to move forward with a smaller bond sale.
The original sale would have help pay for the second phase of Brightline’s project, connecting West Palm Beach to Orlando. The new sale would be limited to the rail venture’s first phase between Miami and West Palm Beach, the court documents said.
In a statement released late Wednesday, All Aboard said Cooper’s decision was “another loss” for Treasure Coast leaders who have spent years fighting to block the rail project, which is planned to link Miami to Orlando with stops in Ft. Lauderdale and West Palm Beach.
“All Aboard Florida believes Judge Cooper properly dismissed the case, and we appreciate his thoughtful review and articulation of the facts and the law,” the company said. “This is another loss in a series of lawsuits that has cost Treasure Coast residents almost $6 million. We look forward to working with the Treasure Coast in a cooperative and more productive fashion as we advance this important infrastructure project.”
Despite the dismissal, Martin County officials also declared victory Wednesday. The county pointed to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s decision to withdraw its 2014 approval, saying the decision to dismiss the case “does not diminish the significant victory of the counties.”
“This is a success story and a hard-fought win for our community, and it confirms our thoughtful litigation strategy was successful,” County Attorney Sarah Woods said in a statement released just after 9 p.m.
Martin County said it was “assessing its next legal steps,” adding that officials are also monitoring any efforts by All Aboard to use tax-exempt bonds to pay for the West Palm to Orlando route.
In documents made public last year, All Aboard officials said they planned to consider a second, $1.15 billion bond sale to help pay for rail work between West Palm Beach and Orlando.
Martin and Indian River counties filed suit in 2015 over the original bond sale, arguing that federal officials violated the National Environmental Policy Act when they approved the tax-exempt bonds before an environmental study of the rail project’s second phase was complete.
Citizens Against Rail Expansion in Florida, also known as CARE FL, said the lawsuits were a “resounding win” for Treasure Coast residents.
“AAF’s insatiable need for public subsidies continues and the decision in this matter doesn’t advance their quest,” the group said Wednesday.
Construction on the first phase of Brightline’s service, which includes three stations and track work between Miami and West Palm Beach, is nearly complete.
Brightline plans to launch the first leg of its passenger service this summer.
Two of the company’s trains have already arrived in West Palm Beach. Two more are expected to arrive on Thursday at the company’s rail repair facility near 15th Street in West Palm Beach.
Construction on the company’s West Palm Beach-to-Orlando leg has not yet begun. Brightline officials have said the project will take at least two years to complete.
Brightline has said it will start “pre-season” service between West Palm Beach and Ft. Lauderdale in late July. Service between West Palm Beach and Miami is expected to begin in August.
Ticket prices have not been released.
A grand opening of the rail project is planned for mid-September, the company said.
Brightline’s BrightGreen and BrightOrange trains, named for the coloring on their passenger cars, are being pulled across the country by a locomotive. Today’s departure marks the first time the company has shipped two trains at one time.
Brightline unveiled its first train, named BrightBlue, at a special event in January. The company has been periodically testing that train on the rail line running south from its West Palm Beach rail repair facility.
A second train — BrightPink — arrived in West Palm Beach last month.
The trains are being stored at Brightline’s repair facility near 15th Street in West Palm Beach.
The 3rd annual job fair will be held from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. on May 11 at the Harriet Himmel Theater in CityPlace. The free event is presented by West Palm Beach Commissioner Keith James.
“During the second annual job fair, nearly 1,000 people convened at the Harriet Himmel Theater to speak with company representatives about available positions,” James said in a statement. “This has proven to be a successful and productive event for our community members who are seeking employment. We hope to see an even larger crowd this year.”
Companies ask that participants seeking employment bring two forms of identification for hiring paperwork at the event.
Other companies conducting interviews include Bed Bath & Beyond; Boynton Beach Community Caring Center; Charming Charlie; City Tap House; Copper Blues; ESPN West Palm; Francesca’s; Glades Drugs; Hilton West Palm Beach; L.A. Fitness; New York Life; Manpower; MD Now Medical Centers; Mojito Latin Cuisine & Bar; Olympusat Holdings, Inc; Palm Beach State College; Sephora; Southeastern College; and Sunglass Hut.
Organizers say new companies are being added daily. Visit www.cityplace.com for the most up-to-date list of participating companies.
The cell site has been installed along Clematis Street near Flagler Drive, the company said. The mobile unit provides the coverage and capacity of three individual cell sites.
AT&T is also providing smartphone charging stations for concert goers at its booth inside this year’s event.
“Events like SunFest are full of moments customers want to share through texts, pictures, status updates and phone calls,” said Joe York, AT&T Florida president. “We’re working hard to give them great coverage and fast speeds.”
The popular coffee shop has leased space at 20 W. Atlantic Avenue, the southwest corner of Swinton and Atlantic avenues. The location formerly was home to Nature’s Way Café.
The move comes after West Palm Beach-based coffee company closed its downtown Delray Beach space at 123 E. Atlantic Ave., after it lost an eviction lawsuit in March.
Subculture’s move to the south side of Atlantic Avenue is part of a long-term deal between the coffee company and Hudson Holdings, owner of property on the south side of Atlantic Avenue along Swinton Avenue.
The coffee shop will be in a temporary funky, green building along Atlantic Avenue until Hudson Holdings wins the city’s OK to do a restoration of six historic houses there.
If all goes to plan, Subculture then will move into one of those houses and take the entire space, as Subculture co-owner Rodney Mayo now has with his iconic Dada restaurant on North Swinton Avenue.
Mayo said Hudson Holdings’ Steven Michael called Mayo and pitched him the idea when he heard Subculture needed new space.
“It’s been my dream to have a coffee shop in an old historic house. This clinched the deal,” Mayo said.
The coffee company posted news of its temporary new Delray Beach location on its Facebook page Tuesday: “Say hello to our new home at the corner of Swinton & Atlantic. Construction is underway!”
Indeed, workers on Wednesday were sanding concrete floors and quickly readying the space for Subculture, which expects to be open by the end of May.
Mayo said the new location will be more akin to the main, West Palm Beach store, at 509 Clematis St. Subculture’s new spot will serve a range of food, including breakfast and lunch until 3 p.m. There also will be a separate annex for juices.
But coffee will not be roasted at 20 W. Atlantic Ave., as it was in the old Delray spot and as it is now in West Palm Beach.
On the plus side, the new location will have substantially more seating. That’s because at 2,200 square feet, it will be three times as large.
“Everyone is ecstatic because it will have more parking and more seats,” said Mayo, who noted that some patrons found it frustrating to have to “pay $10 to park for a $5 cup of coffee.”
Mayo also plans to host events there, including poetry readings and live music.
The location is temporary because Hudson Holdings plans to tear down 20 W. Atlantic Ave. and rebuilt into a 22,000-square foot, four-story building. The building will featuring retail on the ground floor, office space on the second floor, and then residential space on the third and fourth floors.
A breezeway to an interior courtyard and walkway leading to the six restored historic homes, including Subculture’s house, is part of the design.
Mayo said the house will have five parking spots just for to-go orders, plenty of nearby parking and also, outdoor seating.
All of this hinges on Hudson Holdings’ plan to restore and reuse the historic homes, plus plans to build a new hotel and condo-hotel units across from the Sundy House on South Swinton Avenue.
For more on this story, check back with mypalmbeachpost.com.
Lime Fresh Mexican Grill, a Broward County-based chain known for its burritos, outdoor patios and fresh salsa bar, plans to open seven new locations in the next 2 years, including at least two in Palm Beach County.
Lime Fresh plans to open a new location at 3331 Northlake Boulevard in Palm Beach Gardens next month, the chain said in a press release. Another Palm Beach County location is planned in West Palm Beach, it said.
Lime Fresh touts its fresh ingredients. The chain says it offers a healthier, fresh alternative to Mexican food, including its homemade salsa, sauces and sides, which are prepared on-site.
Food is also prepared without the use of use of microwaves or freezers, the company has said. The menu includes homemade guacamole, queso dip, nachos, tacos, burritos, salads and soups.
“Lime fanatics crave our unique offerings because we serve real, freshly-made-to-order food accompanied by an enthusiastic staff that really enhances the guest experience,” Joey Belmont, CEO of Lime Fresh Mexican Grill, said in a statement.
The downtown stop will give Palm Beach County residents easier access to the American Airlines Arena, where The Miami Heat play, Port Miami, and other nearby businesses and shopping districts, officials have said.
The station in downtown Miami could mark the beginning of the expansion of the current Tri-Rail system along the Florida East Coast Railway corridor, serving as the southernmost stop for Tri-Rail’s Coastal Link and
The Coastal Link project is planned to run through coastal downtowns from Miami to Jupiter.
The company plans to hire 90 employees in the West Palm Beach area, DaveHoward, the company’s chief executive officer said Friday. Jobs include security officers, train attendants and guest service agents.
Those interested in applying should visit the company’s website, gobrightline.com/careers, to view a current list of openings, he added.
Howard, an executive from the sports and entertainment industry who joined Brightline’s team in March, said the company is focused on customer service and creating a “culture of care” for its passengers.
“Hospitality has not met train travel,” Howard said. “It will here.”
A grand opening of the rail project is planned for mid-September, the company has said.
Brightline plans to eventually extend the service to Orlando.
Work on Brightline stations in West Palm Beach and Ft. Lauderdale is nearly complete. Construction crews are expected to turn over the properties to Brightline officials within the next week or two, Howard said.
Brightline officials have said the first phase of the quietzone will be installed along a 9-mile stretch of track that runs between Park Place in West Palm Beach and Central Boulevard in Lantana. The company has been testing its first train along that section of rail.
Brightline officials said Friday the quiet zone is expected to be in place at the time the company begins service this summer.
Brightline this month launched a safety campaign designed to warn students and those living near the FEC corridor about the dangers of walking along train tracks.
The company has asked cities along the route to help promote the campaign, part of a national program called Operation Lifesaver, which is designed to reduce collisions, fatalities and injuries at highway-rail crossings and prevent trespassing on or near railroad tracks.
On Friday, Brightline was named “2017 Business of the Year” by the Chamber of Commerce of The Palm Beaches. The company received the award at the 2017 Business Awards Breakfast held at the Palm Beach County Convention Center.
The 2,500-square-foot playground is designed for children under 7 years old. It was built in conjunction with PNC Bank and the Lost Tree Foundation, the science center said.
The playground, which cost $150,000 to construct, is completely fenced in.
The center’s Multipurpose Center has been converted into a classroom environment suitable for workshops and creative spaces with 3D printers, robotics labs and computer programming spaces.
The renovation project cost about $500,000 to complete, officials said.
The playground and multipurpose space mark the science center’s latest expansion efforts.
The center recently unveiled its new mini golf course. The Conservation Course was designed by Gary Nicklaus and Jim Fazio, sons of two local icons of the golf course industry.
Lew Crampton, the center’s president and CEO, said the nonprofit hopes to open a new $1 million outdoor campus this fall. The outdoor space will include a human sundial, physics forest, gem panning station and dinosaur walk.
The center also has plans for a Human Brain exhibit. Officials have raised about $200,000 of the $2 million they need to complete the project, Crampton said.