In Praise of Crane’s

Crane's Beach House had added to Delray's charm while giving back to the community.

Crane’s Beach House has added to Delray’s charm while giving back to the community.

A long, long time ago, I went to a meeting at a non-descript old apartment complex near the beach in Delray.

A gentleman named Michael Crane was seeking support from city commissioners to convert the property into a boutique hotel.

As he outlined his vision, it was clear that he saw a niche in the market for a small, charming seaside hotel about a block off Atlantic Avenue.

He envisioned an oasis, tucked away from Atlantic Avenue which was just starting to pop.

I told him I would support the vision.

After all, Delray needed hotel rooms and you couldn’t help but get swept away by Mr. Crane’s ideas and warm personality. He was a believer in Delray and so was I.

When plans were submitted, we began to receive calls and emails from nearby residents who were concerned about the usual issues: traffic, noise and parking.

So went back to Mr. Crane and his team and worked hard to mitigate the concerns. The city’s planning staff was creative and helpful and we approved the project.

I thought about that process as I attended a party Friday night celebrating the debut of “The Villas” a set of new luxury units that are a welcome addition to what has become a signature property in Delray.

The hotel is not expanding per se, but evolving to capture another segment of the market.

Like it or not, Delray is a hot place as we envisioned and worked hard to achieve.

The same week as The Villas made their debut, the Boston Herald devoted four pages to Delray, noting its restaurant scene, vibrancy, beautiful beach, culture, shopping and recreational opportunities.

Crane’s Beach House is a big contributor to the city’s success and Michael Crane saw the potential, had the belief, took the risk and made the investment.

He was also a gifted talent scout, hiring Cathy Balestriere as general manager and empowering Cathy to dive into Delray. Over the years, she has used her experience,  energy and resolve to create a solid business and to position Delray as a great destination.

When Cathy got the job, she contacted my secretary at the time Delores Rangel, to set up a meeting. We ended going to lunch at City Oyster and starting a conversation that has lasted for more than 10 years. Cathy has always been brimming with ideas and she has a passion for Delray that is simply unmatched.

She has not only made Crane’s a very special property creating jobs and drawing tourists from all over the world, but she has given back by hosting innumerable events for local non-profits over the years. In addition, she has served admirably on the CRA board, created Destination Delray, served on the board of the Downtown Marketing Cooperative and been an invaluable member of the Delray chamber. And when it came time to build The Villas, she used local talent, Delray companies and professionals to design and build the suites. And they are simply magnificent.

With the addition of The Villas, Crane’s will enter a new era of prosperity. I have heard–anecdotally–of people staying at Crane’s and then deciding to move here. It makes sense. Very few places have what we have.

I give a lot of credit to Michael Crane and Cathy for their vision and for our city staff who found a way to make a project like this work.

Saying yes requires risk, but also leads to so many good things. Crane’s is but one example–albeit a great one–of what can happen when a city facilitates a vision.


Delray Marketing Cooperative Names New Director

Stephanie Immelman, a five year veteran of the DBMC, has been named executive director

Stephanie Immelman, a five year veteran of the DBMC, has been named executive director

After a lengthy search, the board of the Delray Beach Marketing Cooperative has chosen a familiar face to lead the organization as it evolves from an event driven agency to a destination marketing vehicle for Delray Beach.

Cathy Balestriere, chair of the Delray Beach Marketing Cooperative (DBMC), has announced the promotion of Stephanie Immelman to Executive Director.

“With her extensive background in international marketing and corporate finance, including 13 years working in Europe, Stephanie has made numerous valuable contributions to DBMC ever since joining as Destination Marketing Manager in 2008, including spearheading the social media campaign that resulted in Delray Beach being named the Most Fun Small Town in the USA by Rand McNally, USA Today and the Travel Channel,” said Balestriere.

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