In front of one of its largest crowds in recent memory The Boca Raton Federation of Homeowners Association’s provided a venue for a presentation by Hillstone Restaurant Group. Hillstone unveiled its plan for developing the city-owned wildflower property into a Houston’s type restaurant. The official moniker of the new eatery has not yet been revealed. In addition, long time Boca Raton resident Steve Alley presented an historical perspective of the wildflower property along with a list of potential resident concerns.
The presentations concluded with a fifteen minute, question and answer session with many attendees’ hands still in the air seeking either additional information or willing to offer an opinion.
Hillstone presented its case for providing Boca with a first-class waterfront dining experience in one of the most unique settings in all of Boca Raton. This is the same company who owns and operates the Houston’s restaurant on Military Trail north of Glades Road. Having been in that location since 1990 the restaurant chain is certainly familiar with the Boca Raton market and no doubt the new location will have plenty of hungry and willing patrons.
Mr. Alley’s presentation provided a series of historical photos showing the development of the area through the decades. Following that, a number of resident critical issues and concerns that have been raised in the recent past were identified by Mr. Alley including: The problematical intersection of Fifth Avenue and E. Palmetto Park Road; overflow parking; the question as to whether the city should be involved in a commercial enterprise; no connectivity between Silver Palm Park and the Wildflower property; lease terms and conditions; and perhaps most significant, the elimination of boat dockage on the site plan.
The issues that Mr. Alley raised have importance since the residents of Boca Raton own this gem of a property. During the question-and-answer period it was obvious that many of those in attendance share the same concerns with much of it focusing on boat dockage and waterfront accessibility.
The dockage issue may be a sticking point between the city and Hillstone as some city officials have been in favor of providing this amenity. Of note is the fact that Hillstone’s submittal from the original 2013 Request For Proposal, included dockage in the artistic renderings of the site.
Reading between the lines of a question raised by public relations expert Bonnie Kaye of Kaye communications, Hillstone seems to be taking the stance that’s the city should be responsible for constructing the boat dockage, not Hillstone. Ms. Kaye put forth the leading question of (paraphrased) “Who owns the property?” With the obvious answer being “The City” the inference is that any boat dockage would not involve Hillstone. With resident demands for dockage, construction plus liability costs all at play, it will be interesting to see how the dockage issue is resolved.
Further movement on this issue could be as early as Wednesday, September 2, 2015 at 7:00 PM when the Marine Advisory Board takes up the Hillstone issue at its regularly scheduled meeting at the Boca Raton Community Center Annex, 260 Crawford Blvd. The meeting is open to the public.
The proposal is expected to be introduced at the City Council meeting on Wednesday, September 9th (subject to change) and then go to full review sometime in October.
Kudos is in order to the Boca Raton Federation of Homeowners Associations for bringing forth topics of interest to our community with a balanced approach.
For review of Steve Alley’s prior presentations on traffic to City Council related to this location click links below.