BocaWatch has reported in depth on many Hot Topics and issues of importance to resident’s of Boca Raton. To keep you updated, we have compiled a review for some of these issues. To read more in depth about any specific item, scan through our Hot Topics Blog.
–Traffic Study – $50,000 Traffic Study NE 5th Ave & Palmetto Park Rd was ordered by the City. The study is underway by consultant Calvin Giordano. The company has gathered preliminary data from residents at a public workshop and traffic counts were recently taken (3rd week in Jan). The report is required to take this information into consideration, along with future build-out population, cars, pedestrians, bicyclers, etc. The City is conducting a Public Workshop to review the findings up to this point and gather additional input from residents. All residents are invited to attend Workshop on Wednesday, March 23, 6:00pm-8:00pm at the Downtown Library. Link to City info.
* We are told ‘the traffic study’ will tie-in with a potential restaurant approval on the Wildflower property.
-Wildflower Property – Hillstone Restaurant is back in negotiations with the City for a restaurant on the site. Residents have devoted much time and energy challenging the City’s conclusion that the property was intended to be a restaurant at time of purchase by presenting various evidence to the contrary. Residents have requested access to the public property to no avail. In spite of these efforts the City is moving forward on restaurant negotiations. Past stumbling blocks have included provision for boat docks, rent escalators, and property taxes among others.
The City staff has reported it would cost approximately $300,000 to open the land to the public. City Council did not feel it was efficient expenditure. The staff also estimated approximately $360,000 to provide for boat docks for Hillstone. The City Council appears willing to make that expenditure.
Meanwhile, new chain link fences have been installed at a cost of approximately $10,000. Link to city info
-Downtown Development – The IDG/Pattern Book allows for buildings to be built 12 stories as opposed to 9 stories (140′ vs 100′). The rental building The Mark at CityScape was the first completed Interim Design Guideline Building (IDG) project. There was a public workshop to assess The Mark almost one year ago. Disappointment has been expressed by many as the project did not materialize as intended regarding appearance and walkability. There has been no follow up.
Other approved IDG projects now under construction are: Via Mizner 1, with mixed used and rental apartments; Via Mizner 2 & 3, mixed use and condominiums including the Mandarin Oriental Hotel, all located at Camino & US 1. The Hyatt Place Hotel at Palmetto & US 1.
No shovels in the ground, but already approved, is Tower 155 condo on E. Boca Raton Rd, behind the post office. Soon to come forward is an IDG project for the redevelopment of the first section of Royal Palm Place.
Projects underway not under the IDG: Rental project Palmetto Promenade aka Archstone, and 327 Royal Palm Rd, a 24 unit luxury condo in the downtown.
Beginning the city’s approval process is 200 Mizner. This property is presently known as Mizner on the Green rental town homes. This one thousand foot long structure is a revised attempt by the owner, Elad. to redevelop the property as luxury condos. They are back with new plans… Stay tuned.
–Open Space & 4035 – Building in downtown Boca is based on Building Ordinance 4035. It dictates specifically how buildings should look, including building materials, landscaping, open space and much more. It was revealed in early December, that since 2003 all downtown projects in relation to ‘open space’ rules were approved based on an interpretive memo written by City staff, as opposed to the actual law of 4035. This was a surprise and disappointment, particularly due to much outcry from citizen’s with concern of lack of beauty and green space in new downtown buildings. At the present time the city staff is tasked to find out why the memo was written and to review more than 70 projects already built, and/or approved, to see if there are actual violations to the ‘open space’ requirements. The City has followed the advice of the City Attorney and has implemented ‘Planning in Progress’ which halts all projects at this time until a project has proven it meets City code. The City Manager has promised an answer as quickly as possible. It is not indicated on the upcoming City’s Council’s meeting agenda.
-2500 N. Ocean Blvd approval -There was a recent approval for a variance that enables the construction of a mansion on the beach side on A1A on pristine beach dunes. This continues to be a controversial topic as the beach represents our greatest natural asset. Due to this controversy…the City Council has asked the Greater BR Beach & Parks District to look at the surrounding properties for purchase to avoid future similar approvals. The B & P’s District has just completed this task (see Sun Sentinel article). The neighbors concerned with this development have created a website with a petition and they have planned a beach awareness day on March 6th from 10am-4:00pm. For more info www.bocasob.com
-Hotel Corner of A1A & Palmetto – Amkim Commercial Development-Ramon Llorens owns this property. The owner, along with architect Jorge Garcia (1000 S Ocean Boca Resort condo) have met with neighbors in surrounding neighborhoods. There are plans to build a hotel and condo complex. Stay tuned.
-20th Street Overlay – The city is now negotiating with Treasure Coast Regional Planning Council to hire them to review and make recommendations for creating the redevelopment on the NE 20th Street corridor leading into FAU. Stay tuned.
-Lake Wyman Restoration Project– The City is looking into this possibility once again. Stay tuned.
-Mizner Park – The Mizner Park bond which financed construction matures in approximately two years. Separately, beginning later this year, General Growth Properties (GGP), the company that now leases the land from the City has the option to purchase the property.
-University Village/Spanish River Blvd – Density increase was approved, much to the concern of neighboring communities and beach residents. Some of the concerns are based upon impacts on the traffic pattern of a Spanish River Blvd, a roadway currently under construction (Spanish River & I-95), but anticipated to be at a failed level of service immediately upon completion, as stated in recent presentation. Link to City traffic presentation.