The Royal Poinciana Plaza’s Rebirth

Samantha David has been coming to Palm Beach all her life, and each visit always started at The Royal Poinciana Plaza. “Whenever we would get to the island, the first thing we would do was go to TooJay’s and buy a loaf of rye bread,” says David, who admits her family would often purchase two loaves—one to enjoy on the ride home and one for later.

David, the daughter of hedge-fund manager Richard Perry and fashion designer Lisa Perry, is forging her own path as chief operating officer of WS Development and head of Up Markets, a division of WS. In 2014, David purchased The Royal Poinciana Plaza with the goal of reinvigorating it for a new generation of Palm Beachers.

The John Volk–designed shopping center has gone through many phases of repair and disrepair since opening in the 1950s. David enlisted Smith and Moore Architects and Nievera Williams Landscape Architecture to help recapture Volk’s original concept for the plaza and add modern touches, too.

“John Volk made our job really easy for us,” David says. “He designed a spectacular shopping environment and was ahead of the curve in terms of how he thought about the flow of the project and that everything would face inward toward these gardens. …We wanted to bring it back to its glory as he intended it.”

The Royal Poinciana Plaza has gradually introduced new businesses over the last year, from the popular Sant Ambroeus restaurant, which opened in late 2016, to the influx of retailers that arrived at the end of 2017. This month, the plaza will celebrate its official grand opening. Turn the page for more insight into the new tenants and David’s vision for the future.

Tasked with breathing new life into the 180,000-square-foot Royal Poinciana Plaza, Samantha David dedicated months to simply listening to the needs of the community. After identifying common desires (a good Mexican restaurant was a biggie), David sought out the best in each requested category to make up the plaza’s diverse directory.

In addition to Sant Ambroeus, the Royal’s culinary scene has retained mainstays like the Palm Beach Grill and TooJay’s while also adding newcomers such as Miami-based Coyo Taco, West Palm Beach favorites Celis Produce and Virginia Philip Wine, Spirits & Academy, and The Honor Bar, a boutique eatery that will operate its only Florida location as an expansion to the Palm Beach Grill.

Those looking for some retail therapy will find plenty of fashionable outposts, too. More than 20 new shops have either opened or relocated to The Royal Poinciana Plaza. Among them are Hermès, Cynthia Rowley, Beach by Everything But Water, and St. Frank, an artisan-driven home goods seller occupying a pop-up concept through May. Many elite boutiques are also opening their first Florida locations at the Royal, including Kirna Zabete, a hip center for luxury brands like Balenciaga and Alexander Wang, as well as Magasin, a destination for fashionable menswear from designers like Dries Van Noten.

The Royal Poinciana Plaza also abounds in lifestyle-centric offerings. The Palm Beach Bicycle Trail Shop has moved to the plaza, while Italian scooter maker Vespa delivers a little more speed. A New York staple, Paul Labrecque Salon and Spa will open this month, specializing in beauty services for men and women. Even dogs can find something to love at the Royal with Woof Gang Bakery, a purveyor of food, treats, and grooming supplies.

Although this is just a sampling of what visitors can expect at the new Royal Poinciana Plaza, David believes it’s a step forward in turning the plaza into a community gathering place. In the future, she hopes to host activities to further activate the plaza, like yoga and classical music performances.

“We really want to bring fun, joy, and energy, a place people just love to spend time at,” she says. “We [will] continue to closely follow the pulse of the community and make sure we understand what people want and respond to it. But at the end of the day, if we’re making people smile, we will count ourselves successful.”

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