In the spirit of renewal, the West Palm Beach Community Redevelopment Agency’s various revitalization projects in the Historic Northwest District will premiere this year.
The cornerstone of the CRA’s work in the area is the multimillion-dollar revival of the Sunset Lounge, a jazz landmark that dates to 1925. During the racially segregated Jim Crow era, the Sunset Lounge belonged to the Chitlin’ Circuit—venues where African American entertainers could perform safely—and drew notable acts like Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong. Over the years, the hot spot fell into disuse and became a relic. The project aims to honor and restore the club’s musical roots, reawakening it for a new era in both music and racial relations.
Once complete this summer, the renovated lounge will include a complete rehabilitation of the existing barrel-roofed building. The first floor will feature a bar and restaurant, while the second will return to its original role as a ballroom with a stage and third-floor mezzanine. In addition, a new two-story building to the east will house a kitchen, dressing rooms, and a box office, as well as a rooftop bar, patio, and garden.
Across from the reinvigorated Sunset Lounge will sit the music-themed Heart & Soul Park, which will harmonize with the lounge by providing a place for the public to enjoy lush green surroundings and water features. Currently under construction, the park is also expected to feature community gathering spaces as well as a heritage trail, a butterfly garden, a playground, interactive instruments, and more.
Across the way is the pedestrian-oriented Styx Promenade project, which aims to preserve the legacy of the various pioneers who helped establish the area. Construction recently began to redevelop several buildings into replicas of the area’s traditional shotgun-style homes, which will serve as mixed-use concepts housing eight local businesses.
Also in nearby redevelopment efforts, construction of a redesigned Currie Park is set to begin next year. Another project, Mickens Village, remains in the “concept” phase for now, but the intent is to create a bed and breakfast and a museum chronicling local Black history. A revitalized streetscape along Tamarind Avenue is also in the works.
Many of these developments, most notably the Sunset Lounge, will position the Historic Northwest as a destination for cultural tourism, also called heritage tourism, particularly when it comes to Black history. Heritage tourism centers a place’s past as a vital part of experiencing its present—acknowledging and honoring its yesterday while embracing and celebrating its tomorrow.