If you don’t know Aaron Wormus, chances are you don’t know Clematis Street. A fixture of the downtown West Palm Beach scene for over a decade, Wormus is the go-to guy for news, developments, and happenings around Clematis Street and beyond. Twitter star and author of the popular local blog A Guy on Clematis, you can count on Wormus to keep you in the know and up-to-date on all relevant goings-on in our area.
I caught up with Wormus to chat about our city’s growth, what keeps him in West Palm Beach, his change-making and conversation-starting Facebook group, and, of course, his favorite part about Clematis Street.
What brought you to West Palm Beach?
I had my own consulting company in Europe and traveled back and forth between Frankfurt, Germany, and West Palm Beach beginning in 2004. Work expanded, and in 2007, I moved my family over and became a full-time West Palm Beacher.
Let’s talk about your perspective on West Palm Beach. How has it changed over the years? What do you love about living here now vs. when you first moved here? I’m interested in hearing about how your view of West Palm Beach has evolved.
West Palm Beach is really unrecognizable from the 2000s. When I moved here full-time, we were in the middle of the condo boom. The Prado and 610 Clematis were the brand-new condo buildings; Two City Plaza had just started coming out of the ground.
The only restaurants on Clematis Street that still exist were O’Shea’s and Jimmy John’s! Monkey Club (currently The Pawn Shop) and Bonds (formerly Wine Dive) were the hip places to chill. The West Palm Beach public library (now the Mandel Public Library of West Palm Beach) was still at the east end of Clematis Street, and what is currently City Hall (and a lot of the 500 block) was shuttered.
The changes that we have seen in the last five years have been spectacular. Moving the library and giving Clematis Street that waterfront feel was the first step, and the rest is history.
What new developments are you seeing in the landscape or overall vibe of West Palm Beach? Anything you’re concerned about?
We are at a very pivotal time for West Palm Beach. Over the last 100 years, we have benefited from great planning, which has grown the city into what it is and, for the most part, protected our biggest assets: our main street, the live/work/play environment in downtown, and the neighborhoods that surround downtown.
As Florida continues to develop, the demand for more high-end real estate and condos has reached our little city. I hope that our leadership can find a way to continue to embrace those who want to invest and move into our city, while respecting what has made our city great for so many years.
You’re admin and creator of the lively Facebook group Engage West Palm. Can you briefly discuss why this forum is important to public life here in West Palm Beach?
Every city needs a virtual town hall, and what we commonly refer to as “Engage” has grown to become that for West Palm Beach. The 5,500 current members are free to share their thoughts on recent events as well as post articles and share ideas for the city. Sometimes the discussions get heated, especially during the election cycles, but that is what community is about—for better or for worse.
What upcoming changes are you looking forward to?
The waterfront hotel is going to be an absolute game-changer. I hear that a Louie Bossi (by Big Time Restaurant Group) is going to be our new waterfront restaurant—that’s exciting. I’m also excited to see the new 300 block of Clematis Street. The completion date is October 31st, but my fingers are crossed that everything can be completed in time for MoonFest on the 27th. It is going to be absolutely stunning.
Your claim to fame is being a guy on Clematis. What’s your favorite part about Clematis Street?
I love the feel of the 500 block. It has so many different personalities, depending on what time of day you stroll by. From being greeted by Willy in the morning and watching the cast of characters line up to get coffee before dispersing into the rest of downtown, to walking back in the evening and enjoying happy hour (until 8 p.m.!) at Lost Weekend, to late night music at Voltaire or Respects…it’s all good.