The Royal Poinciana Plaza and WS Development will break ground on a long-awaited renovation of the iconic Royal Poinciana Playhouse. Beginning this summer, the Royal Poinciana Playhouse’s redevelopment will preserve the landmark’s historic usage and integrity by restoring a theater and cultural arts center. The project also includes plans to develop the Town of Palm Beach’s only intracoastal waterfront restaurant, along with space for the beloved plaza to expand its assortment of galleries and retailers.
After sitting idle for two decades, The Playhouse is primed to emerge as a globally noted destination and the jewel box of Palm Beach. Referred to locally as simply “The Playhouse,” the venue was a social juggernaut in the 1960s and 1970s, with regular Broadway plays, ballets, musical performances, nightly dinners, and dancing in The Celebrity Room. The Playhouse was a nationwide fixture, attracting big name celebrities like Burt Reynolds, Jackie Gleason, Bing Crosby, and Bob Hope as well as social and political royalty such as the Duke of Windsor and the Kennedys.
Set to open in 2023, the Playhouse will further ignite the quickly changing Palm Beach demographic, offering natives, young family transplants, and tourists the pleasure of enjoying cultural opportunities and intracoastal waterfront dining.
“For seven years, we’ve worked tirelessly to study how we could reopen The Playhouse in a way that will ensure long-term success,” said Alexandra Clark, Vice President of Asset Strategy & Experience Field at WS Development. “An integral part of the process has been identifying the right operator. Our overwhelming passion to execute this project in a compelling way has always been top of mind and to finally be in a position where we are so confident in our development plans and operator.”
Innovate, chaired by Palm Beach’s pwn Avie Glazer, will operate the programming for the planned cultural arts center. Glazer and his wife Jill have resided in Palm Beach for 20 years and are recognized for their prominence in the sport’s industry—Glazer is the co-chairman of the Manchester United Football Club and his family are owners of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Glazers are poised to invest significant time and energy into their passion for arts, architecture and preservation.
“The playhouse has languished vacant for far too long and we are very excited to be able to be a part of its rebirth. Innovate expects to develop a world class multi-purpose cultural and performing arts space that will be a tremendous addition to the entire Palm Beach community,” stated Glazer.
The Playhouse was imagined by architect John Volk, who added the regency style structure to The Royal Poinciana Plaza’s footprint in 1958 with the intention of creating a true community center for the island of Palm Beach. Redevelopment, helmed by Smith and Moore and Spina O’Rourke, will preserve the original architectural details on the main façade including the Roman statues, quoins, and curved designs.
“The Royal Poinciana Plaza and Playhouse are undoubtably two of John Volk’s most significant and enduring works,” said Amanda Skier, president and CEO of the Preservation Foundation of Palm Beach. “WS Development’s commitment to reopening The Playhouse with a viable business plan is commendable. Their successful restoration of The Royal is a strong indicator that this beloved cultural venue will once again enrich our community for many years to come.”
Plans for The Playhouse boast a theater seating 400 and a stage with a retractable backdrop wall, enabling the space to transform into an al fresco waterfront event venue, in addition to a 200-seat restaurant with outdoor dining and 12,000 square feet of retail space.