Business-incubator project in West Palm may cost more than double initial estimates

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Rendering of The Thoroughfare at 314 Clematis Street in downtown West Palm Beach

The city government’s plan to turn a 96-year-old building in West Palm Beach into an incubation space for young businesses may cost $2.5 million – more than double the original estimates.

City commissioners voted 4-1 to ease the process of allocating more money to the project. But they did not authorize additional spending, choosing instead to wait for changes to the project to address their concerns.

The city has spent $900,000 so far, including $400,000 to demolish the interior of the building at 314 Clematis Street in downtown West Palm Beach.

The city also has paid $500,000 in rent to the owner of the building, Miami-based Trifecta Clematis LLC, which acquired the property in 2016 for $6.75 million.

But the total cost of the project may hit $2.5 million due to recently uncovered structural problems at the 1923 building, which previously housed a nightclub called Off the Hookah.

The city wants to convert the former nightclub to a business-incubator space called Thoroughfare, where the city would conduct a so-called “12 X 12” program. The space would house 12 early-stage businesses for 12-month periods.

West Palm Beach won a $180,000 grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation fund the business-incubation program, and the first 12 businesses to participate in the program recently were selected. [Palm Beach Post]Mike Seemuth

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