City to Destroy Barbershop
Glaston "Alex" Sims has been cutting hair on Seacrest Boulevard for almost 50 years.He built the cream-colored shop in 1956. For decades it's been a mainstay for men in Boynton Beach's African-American community, a reliable spot for spruce-ups and friendly conversation. "We've got generations in here," said Guarn Sims, one of Alex's sons, who frequently mans one of the four scuffed barber chairs. "We've got gentlemen who are 75 and 80 years old. And their sons and their grandsons. This here's home."
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The shop he built is directly in the path of an ambitious edevelopment project called the Heart of Boynton. Around the intersection of Seacrest and Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevards, the city plans to replace decades of blight with nice new residences and storefronts. The shop stands in the way of an expanded park and cemetery, according to drawings on the CRA Web site. The city has agreed to buy the building for $225,000, plus another $20,000 for "relocation," in a deal finalized in the last few weeks, said Doug Hutchinson, director of Boynton's Community Redevelopment Agency.The family's not happy about it, Guarn Sims said. He said the deal will force his father, 76, to retire. The career barber was hoping to ease into semi-retirement, renting out a couple of chairs to younger barbers who'd keep the bulk of the business going.
Hutchinson said the CRA is giving the Simses considerably more than the shop's $100,000 appraised value. "They were willing sellers," he said.But Guarn Sims said the sale was made under the implied threat of eminent domain, a threat that appears all the stronger since the U.S. Supreme Court ruled last week that localities can take private property and give it to developers who will increase the tax base or create jobs."That was the nail in the coffin," Guarn said, referring to his faint remaining hope that the sale could be called off.