Change is coming for this famed Florida island, and longtime locals are fighting it tooth and nail. 

While nearby South Florida locales, including adjacent West Palm Beach, have been built up with shiny, modern buildings in recent years, the South End section of Palm Beach has remained resolutely unchanged — until now. 

This corner of the 18-mile-long, less than 1-mile-wide island has been able to preserve its comparatively affordable mid-century housing for decades thanks to a combination of community pressure and 50-year-old building codes. Now, though, developers may finally be able to construct a set of new luxury condo buildings, and locals are up in arms about them, according to Bloomberg.

The Ambassador, which may be demolished to make way for new luxury housing. @ambassadorpalmbeach/instagram
Inside the Ambassador. @ambassadorpalmbeach/instagram
If the Ambassador can be successfully redeveloped, it will be a sign that similar developments will soon come to the area. @ambassadorpalmbeach/instagram

In 2022, luxury hotel developers Cain International and OKO Groups paid $147 million for the South End’s dated Ambassador Hotel, which they plan to replace with 49 units, at least 10 swimming pools, fountains and rooftop decks galore, much to the chagrin of the nearby homeowner’s association.  

At one community meeting regarding the development, and its request for zoning requirement exceptions, area owners spoke out in opposition, with one saying they “don’t want to become West Palm Beach” with towers, and another saying they didn’t want to see “dancing girls on bars” with the pools, the outlet reported.

The developers are heralding it as “the most ultra-luxury multifamily project likely that the town will ever see,” but town council president Bobbie Lindsay says most current area residents “could never afford to buy a unit” in such a tower. 

The situation “is the first stress test for a potential wave of development, and it’s not going to be the last,” South End real estate agent and interior designer Guy Clark told the publication. 

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