Once the venue for such jazz greats as Ella Fitzgerald, Count Basie, and Louis Armstrong, the Sunset Lounge has been sitting relatively quiet for years. The West Palm Beach Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA) is changing that and reviving a larger part of the West Palm Beach Historic Northwest District where the notable building is located. The Sunset Lounge was a preeminent destination during the Jim Crow era, drawing huge crowds to see the prominent African American musicians of the time. After years of planning and community input, the CRA is renovating and expanding the Sunset Lounge to create an art and performance venue and making additional outdoor enhancements. PRISM created multiple renderings to help promote this significant community project.
The lounge restoration includes a renovated bar and new full-service restaurant on the first floor, and conversion of the second floor back to a dance hall and stage. A new 7,200 s.f. addition will house the restaurant kitchen, bathrooms, performer dressing rooms, the box office and lobby. It is the centerpiece of a larger renewal project that includes a new park and pedestrian corridor. Heart & Soul Park is a musically-themed outdoor venue adjacent to the Sunset Lounge. It will provide overflow entertainment space as well as an active park for community events. The 7th Street project is a redesign of the pedestrian walkway directly in front of the park. It connects the park to the restored and soon to be newly constructed shotgun houses that were typical of the 1940s and 50s. These houses will be for small business and entrepreneurial opportunities.
As reported by WPB Magazine, “ The redevelopment of this celebrated site will pay homage to the rich jazz and black history of the area and celebrate its significant legacy and impact, ultimately transforming the Sunset Lounge into the epicenter for a new African-American cultural tourism destination.” All three projects should be completed by spring 2021.
Satchmo himself would be proud.
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