Editorial: How Robert Grace saved Palm Beach from overbuilding

·2 min read
Robert Grace ORG XMIT:   ORG XMIT: MER0702120823286013
Robert Grace ORG XMIT: ORG XMIT: MER0702120823286013

Most of you probably didn't know him. Some may not have heard of him.

He was one of the founders of the Preservation Foundation, a leader in writing the town's zoning codes and possibly the person most responsible for Palm Beach maintaining its world-renowned small-town character.

He was Robert M. Grace, who died Jan. 9 at his Palm Beach home. The former Town Council president was 97.

Those who have wondered why Palm Beach does not have high-rise condos along its shores north of Sloans Curve should thank Mr. Grace, who along with former Mayor Deedy Marix and others wrote the zoning codes that we still use today.

In the early 1970s, the council voted to limit heights of new residential buildings to five stories. That put a stop to any plans for high-rises along the beach, the cookie-cutter kind that have overtaken the South Florida coast in most places, stealing its charm.

"He basically wrote our zoning code that kept us from looking like the rest of South Florida — overbuilt. He made sure that wasn’t going to happen in Palm Beach," said architect Jeff Smith.

Mr. Grace, who married his wife Jane in 1949, was involved with starting the Preservation Foundation of Palm Beach, orchestrating the town’s ownership of the Phipps Ocean Park and the Par 3 Golf Course to stop further condominium development, and putting in place protections for the Breakers Golf Course.

He also started the Architectural Commission and served as chairman of the Zoning Commission.

An educator, he taught at Palm Beach Day Academy and was assistant principal at Graham Eckes School. He also was a member of the Palm Beach Civic Association.

“Palm Beach would not be the place that it is today without his leadership and generosity," said Amanda Skier, president and chief executive officer of the Preservation Foundation of Palm Beach.

No, it wouldn't. And we should all be thankful for what he did for this community. Palm Beach wouldn't be the Palm Beach we all know and love without him.

This article originally appeared on Palm Beach Daily News: Editorial: Robert Grace gave us the Palm Beach we know and love

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