Is Jupiter for Everyone? The Future of Jupiter Inlet Village

For my readers who live in Jupiter, it will come as no surprise to learn that, according to a 2015 WPTV article, our town was Palm Beach County’s fastest growing city from 2013 to 2014… and it’s still growing.  In the brief report, Dune Dog Cafe general manager Ricky Berrios attributes this growth to the fact that we are a small, funky, old-school fishing village among the metropolises of South Florida (not his exact words but you get the gist).  People are moving to Jupiter because they don’t want to live in Fort Lauderdale… or Miami… or Tampa… or Orlando.

jupiter-street
The intersection of A1A and U.S. Highway One in the 1950s or 1960s.  That’s the Old Lighthouse Restaurant on the right – originally known as the “Pure Oil Truck Stop.”

In general, the Town of Jupiter has done a very nice job preserving “small-town Jupiter” in the face of commercialization and encroaching development.  For instance, business signs along Indiantown Road must comply with certain size guidelines and exclude flashing or bare bulbs.  And, did you know, that Jupiter is home to the only Home Depot without an orange roof?  The town also instituted an Open Space Program to protect rare and sensitive habitats from development and has been designated a Tree City USA for 17 years in a row.  Pretty impressive, huh?  And we wonder why Yankees flock here in droves.

I will never forget when I visited a friend from college who lived in the suburbs of Tampa.  The urban sprawl was unbearable.  I passed strip mall after strip mall, painted every shade of the rainbow, with signage of all shapes and sizes.  It was as though no one had thought about the future of the city, allowing developers to build a hodgepodge of structures without a comprehensive plan of what they wanted it to look like when they were finished.

Jupiter gets an A+ on planning.  But lately, I have started to wonder who exactly they are planning for.

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Inlet Village Project Map

The map above has become a controversial subject in Jupiter.  It shows proposed changes to an area called the Inlet Village, which encompasses parts of U.S. Highway One and A1A Ocean Boulevard.  The “village” is managed by the Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA), which is responsible for understanding the issues of the village area and developing it for the benefit of its residents and businesses.  On Wednesday, October 19, the CRA held an open house at the Jupiter Community Center to share with the public their plan for the Inlet Village and address questions and concerns.

This is where my wondering begins.  The open house was scheduled between 4 p.m. – 6 p.m.  Who is the target audience for an event scheduled in the late afternoon?  Certainly not young, working professionals.  I barely made it to the community center in time to catch the tail end of the exhibit, missing the presentation, and making my rounds as the businesses and community organizations began packing up their tables.  For the record, not everyone interested in the future of Jupiter is retired or a stay-at-home mom.

In cased you missed the open house (which is very possible), here’s the scoop on the upcoming changes slated for the Inlet Village (with my commentary):

  • U.S. Highway One Drawbridge Replacement – TOTALLY NECESSARY, as the current bridge does not meet U.S. Coast Guard requirements, scored slightly above “unsatisfactory” in a overall fitness rating, and is in a corrosive condition.  Thank you FDOT and CRA for bringing this to our attention.  For drawings of tenderhouse options, click here.  I vote for option C!
us1-drawbridge
The U.S. Highway One Drawbridge, looking east
  • 1000 North Restaurant at Jupiter Harbor – Hmmmm, I’m not sure about this one.  How many upscale restaurants does a town of 60,000 residents need?  This one is partly owned by basketball star Michael Jordan (He can say hello to Tiger at The Woods in Harbourside).  What kind of food will it serve?  Will I be able to afford to eat there?  Will there be enough business to keep it afloat during the summer?  Ask previous restaurants in the location, Charlie’s Crab and Brix Italian Fishery, about surviving off-season.  And add 1000 North to the myriad of other dining options lining the Loxahatchee: U-Tiki, Rustic Inn Crab House, Jetty’s, the Square Grouper, Guanabanas, Schooners… plus two more restaurants slated for the end of Love Street.
1000-north-mj-restaurant
“1000 North” in its former state as either Charlie’s Crab or Brix Italian Fishery
  • Love Street and A1A Property – Thankfully, the CRA has decreased the intensity of the proposed project for this 4 acre site.  However, it still includes retail shops, MORE RESTAURANTS, and office space.  What kind of retail shops?  Will the average Jupiter resident be able to shop there or will they cater to tourists and wealthy snowbirds?  Will they sell me something I actually need or over-priced goods I can buy at the mall?
love-street-streetscape
A concept drawing of the Love Street retail center
  • Lighthouse Cove Mini Golf – This is was the nail in the coffin.  I love Lighthouse Cove Mini Golf.  I even complimented the owner at the open house about what a great idea it was to bring mini golf to Jupiter and that my friends and I have spent many wonderful evenings playing their course.  It’s an excellent, inexpensive way for people of all ages to enjoy spending time together outdoors.  Then, I found out that they demolished the nature preserve on their property to build a playground and event pavilion.  So much for being Tree City USA.  It’s hard for me to accept the balance between growth and progress and the conservation of the natural beauty that makes our small town unique.  The owner, who was very lovely, said that they has spent a great deal of time and money working on their restaurant menu only to find that patrons were passing up The Burger Shack and heading straight to the putting green.  They hope that the pavilion will increase their restaurant sales and event bookings.
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The mini golf course at Lighthouse Cove

Check out my previous thoughts regarding the Historic Sperry Boathouse and Indiantown Road U.S. One to A1A Improvements here.

After reviewing the plans for the Inlet Village, it struck me that maybe the CRA isn’t planning for Jupiter’s full-time residents, the people who live and work in our town every day.  They are planning for the tourists and seasonal residents, people with lots of jingle in their pockets, who sometimes expect Jupiter to be the “Disney World version of Florida” that they’ve created in their heads.  People forget (or ignore) that things like mosquitoes and cockroaches, poverty and pollution, and people who need to work extremely hard to make ends meet exist here in our tropical paradise.  Tourism is a huge component of our economy but visitors should know that it wasn’t too long ago that Jupiter residents were living without air conditioning in homes with dirt floors, subsisting on a diet of mostly what you could catch in the Loxahatchee (see The Loxahatchee Lament).

The CRA was created specifically for the Jupiter Inlet Village Project – to make sure that the proposed plans for the area remain in harmony with the rest of the Town of Jupiter… so that the village doesn’t turn into South Beach North.  But why isn’t there a CRA to help areas of Jupiter that REALLY ARE struggling with redevelopment and revitalization?  Last time I checked, residents of Suni Sands Mobile Home Park were just peachy with their view of the river.  What about revitalizing Center Street and providing adequate housing for the day laborer population?  Or beautifying neighborhoods such as Pine Gardens, Eastview Manor, and Jupiter River Estates?  Why not strive to to bring inland Jupiter back to what it used to be: a small town where young, middle-class families can afford and be excited to live?

Jupiter is for me.  Jupiter is for you.  I would appreciate you sharing your thoughts regarding the Jupiter Inlet Village Project below or via email to NativeJUP@gmail.com.

JUP Girl

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