25 Ideas Revisited


Editor’s note:

Four years ago—the same length as a presidential term—we wrote a blog outlining 25 ideas for Delray Beach.

We thought it would be fun to take a look back and comment on whether these ideas still make sense or whether any of them actually happened.

25 Ideas …2012 edition

  1. Brand Delray Beach as a mecca for entrepreneurs—Comment: Still makes sense and still a work in progress. Various efforts have been tried and traction has been difficult to achieve. The lack of affordable creative space downtown is a barrier, but efforts such as the co-working space “The Kitchn” are promising. Much more needs to be done and can be done.
  2. To accomplish the above, create a business incubator downtown and invite entrepreneurs to grow in Delray. Comment: There’s potential at the Old School Square Garage to do something facing the park and at the Arts Warehouse, but this idea remains incomplete.
  3. Create a business accelerator in Delray so that once companies are incubated they have someplace to go for the extra needed help. Comment: Incomplete.
  4. Help existing businesses and individuals grow by offering classes and low or no-cost business advice at our own Old School Square. Comment: Lynn University has been scouting locations downtown to offer classes; the Small Business Development Center is active at the Delray Library and it was great to see Code Fever at the chamber recently.
  5. Speaking of Old School Square, offer executive education, certificate and graduate programs in the classrooms; revenue for Old School Square and another tool for economic development. Comment: Incomplete.
  6. Program the Old School Square Park—add shade, music and a few tasteful vendors. Comment: After a series of charrettes and private efforts, a vision is beginning to take shape. But it has been 11 years since voters passed a bond creating the park and creating a vibrant downtown “central” park remains incomplete. Lately, some have complained about vagrancy at the park. And the process to design a park has been fraught. It ought to be exciting.
  7. At holiday time, create a holiday village at the Old School Square park and allow kiosks and “pop-up” stores to capture crowds heading to the 100 foot tree. Give local retailers a free or reduced stall and charge others for the month—use funds to offset holiday costs. Comment: Didn’t happen.
  8. Creatively partner with various private entities to bring “fantasy sports camps” to Delray. Tourists could come to Delray to play with their childhood heroes and enjoy the downtown after the game is over. Comment: Didn’t happen.

9 .Install LED lighting in parking lots and parking garages. It’s green and it saves money. Comment: New LED street lights are brightening a six-block section of West Atlantic Avenue, thanks to a grant from the U.S. Department of Energy totaling nearly $111,000. Efforts appear to be underway.

  1. Create a leadership academy to train the next generation of local leaders. Teach the Delray success story. Comment: The Chamber launched a civic engagement academy earlier this year that was well attended. There are plans to do more.
  2. Create a local Business Development Corporation enabling local residents to buy “shares” in local businesses and invest in growing our own economy. Comment: Not done.
  3. Reinvigorate the Southwest Plan by borrowing a page from Geoffrey Canada’s Harlem Empowerment Zone playbook. Seek foundation monies to move beyond infrastructure to developing Delray’s vast human capital. Comment: Various charitable efforts including Delray Students First have embraced the mission of developing Human Capital, but robust financial support remains elusive.
  4. Arm the economic development director with a reasonable budget to market Delray. We have to get in the game and that takes marketing and resources. Comment: Not done.
  5. Public Relations. Delray needs a publicity strategy outside the local publications to attract investment and build awareness of our assets and opportunities. After all, we are the jewel of Palm Beach County. Comment: Not done, the Delray Marketing Cooperative has done a good job on the events front, but PR regarding economic development has been spotty. There were some good articles on downtown development in the South Florida Business Journal and on the efforts of the Congress Avenue Task Force in the Sun Sentinel but creating national buzz around business and investment remains to be seen. There have been good articles in national and regional publications relating to downtown redevelopment, dining, tourism, events, real estate and lifestyle.
  6. Link the new Arts Warehouse to a broader strategy to create an artists and artisans “village within a village” in the Third Avenue area. Comment: Artists Alley has been threatened by increasing prices and gentrification and the Arts Warehouse is still not open.
  7. Help Delray’s Prep and Sports develop a national reputation for elite football training and make the 7 on 7 event one of the premier tournaments in the USA. Comment: Prep and Sports founder T.J. Jackson has gone on to become the head football coach at Atlantic High.
  8. Convene an economic development charrette to discuss our fiscal future and job creation—let the community decide the priorities and tie our spending to those priorities. Comment: 2017 should see a discussion of economic development as a key component of the city’s comprehensive plan. The Chamber is considering a similar conversation.
  9. Team up with our neighbors Boca Raton and Boynton wherever possible: city services, economic development, marketing to save money and leverage our strengths. Comment: hard to do.
  10. Get serious about jumpstarting investment on Congress Avenue. The vision and zoning is in place, what’s needed is execution and beautification. Comment: A task force spent 10 months updating the plan and adding exciting new elements. Plan was submitted in February and was accepted in August, but not formally adopted. Code has yet to be updated and the city is considering hiring a consultant. Meanwhile, the corridor has attracted a few deals: Kaufman & Lynn, Call 4 Health and there is activity on the old Office Depot site and Saltwater Brewery. However, concern lingers that new projects will be forced to “spot zone” since the plan is not yet in place.
  11. Add a Middle School of the Arts at Carver Middle School and tie it into all of our arts activities from Old School Square to the Creative City Collaborative to the new Plumosa School of the Arts. Comment: Talk has died down regarding Carver. But the district has a plan to build a long coveted middle school of the arts on the site of the old Atlantic High School.
  12. Bring a branch of a university downtown and one to Congress Avenue. Comment: remains to be done. Lynn U has plans for a presence.
  13. Revisit the North Federal Highway Plan and come up with a new vision for the 21st Century. Comment: remains to be done. South Federal is being looked at; that’s a good thing.
  14. Host a competition and have our local techies develop some interesting local apps. Comment: remains to be done. Tallahassee recently did this exercise and ended up with some amazing ideas.
  15. Develop a formal, aggressive and powerful Shop Local Campaign. Comment: there have been great efforts but a strong lasting branded campaign remains an opportunity.
  16. Add entrepreneurship academies to Atlantic High and Village Academy. Comment: remains to be done.


  1. Jeff, it appears to me that little progress was made on your 25 ideas concept, regrettably. They for the most part were obviously ambitious, having said that for the city to reach its long term goals and aspirations the initiatives must be difficult, if easy every community would of course accomplished them years ago. So many of them were business related which adds badly needed diversity to the city, once again the city failed in most of these areas. Of course it’s not the time to give up and go home. The city needs possibly to shrink the list to 10, then refocus its attentions to the smaller list in hopes of possibly achieving 5 of them over the next five years. That would be a significant accomplishment for any city, let’s hope that the city continues to address these issues for its long term viability of Delray Beach!

  2. Silence is an answer too. It chips away at your spirit. Well done, is better than well said. Real heroes don’t wear capes -unknown quote, but I dig it. Soap box – govt shouldn’t pick winners & losers… some want to tip toe through your tulips and set your ‘house’ on fire. People lie, actions don’t. Stop at never, and never settle.

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