At a recent event held at The Addison in downtown Boca Raton and sponsored by NAIOP, Commercial Real Estate Development Association, South Florida Chapter, a panel of experts offered commentary on past and future developments in the City of Boca Raton. The theme of the presentation was titled “Boca Rising: New towers redefine city’s eastern skyline”.
The panel included representatives from the downtown developments: The Mark – completed in 2015. Hyatt Place – nearing completion. Via Mizner – just completed Phase One of three. In addition the panel included a representative from Crocker Partners which is planning a comprehensive redevelopment for “Midtown”. Mayor Susan Haynie was also included among the panel.
Each member gave a brief presentation followed by a Q&A session. A question of import, not necessarily to the audience on hand but to the community at large, was offered up by the moderator: “There is some angst against development in Boca Raton. How do you deal with that?”
This question garnered some interesting responses: Mayor Haynie knew her audience well (a.k.a. major campaign donors) and replied that times have changed and social media has allowed for the bashing of developers and elected officials. In other words; there is nothing to be concerned about; there is no major outcry; it’s only modern technology that is the problem. If the Mayor truly believes this notion, it indicates she is out of touch with her constituency.
Perhaps the most genuine and honest response came from the management of the new Hyatt Place who stated that he doesn’t deal with the residents, he deals with the elected officials since they make the decisions.
NOTE TO FILE: Choose your elected officials wisely.
It is understood that every community needs different points of view. Through discussion and working together, it is hoped that a better outcome and a clear vision for all emerges. However, when certain points of view gain power over the system it no longer falls in the category of working together. It becomes a matter of dominance. Such is the current state of affairs in Boca Raton.
Due to the sizable financial rewards at stake, residents of Boca Raton remain second class citizens and are subservient to the development community. It is no secret as to why this has happened. The enormous amounts of money raised by the latter group, which funds campaigns, has been artfully used over the years to create propaganda that works against resident-friendly candidates.
With the exception of Councilman Mike Mullaugh, who will be completing his final term in office this coming March, the current City Council consists of members who have further political aspirations. They know that funding campaigns is expensive and gravitate to where money is available to fund their future goals as long as they “play ball.” As a result, our local governing body presently lacks the balance of representation that is so desperately needed in Boca Raton.
As projects in downtown Boca Raton continue to rise out of the ground a growing number of citizens are shocked at the outcome and are voicing their concerns about traffic, density, concrete versus green space and more. While these concerns are quality of life issues, the conflicting view comes from those that value the quality of the almighty dollar. The vision of the latter is bigger is better.