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Astros, Nats spring complex shot down by West Palm Beach

Washington NationalsThe proposed West Palm Beach site for a new Houston Astros/Washington Nationals spring-training facility will instead be used for a mixed-use development, as local elected officials decide to keep the land on the tax rolls.

The Astros and Nationals had proposed developing a 160-acre site formerly used as a dump as a spring-training facility with a ballpark, training facilities and clubhouses for both major- and minor-league squads. The $145-million project would be funded by the state, hotel taxes and rent from the two teams.

That particular land parcel — between Military Trail and Haverhill Road, south of 45th Street in West Palm Beach — has emerged as a hot site for developers, with several firms wishing to make proposal for the property. The county will hear a pitch from Parkside Commons of Boca Raton to develop 140 acres of the 160 acres, with a regional park included in the mix. For the city, working with a developer means the property will stay on the tax rolls, as well as the potential of a decent sale price. The lure of spring training wasn’t enough to interest city officials, who say the site is pretty much dead for housing spring training. From the Palm Beach Post:

Mayor Jeri Muoio has said the city has no plans to hear presentations from the Astros and Nationals.

“We’re pretty much moving on from baseball,” Muoio said Wednesday at her weekly press briefing. “Right now, that’s between the county and the baseball people and we’re looking for alternatives for our land.”

Asked if the city has shut the door altogether on the baseball teams, Muoio said: “I’m open to anything but we’ve pretty much moved away. We’re hearing a presentation for an alternative. We can take a vote Tuesday to negotiate with them and come back with a proposal.”

If West Palm Beach goes with a developer, it represents another setback for the Astros and Nationals to find a spring-training site. The teams previously sought facility sites in Kissimmee and Palm Beach, but political opposition doomed those efforts. Other cities in Palm Beach County have expressed interest in developing a spring-training facility, but deadlines loom: a plan needs to be place  by the end of the year if a facility is to open in 2017.

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