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Sign Petition for Houston’s Traffic Study

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Click below to sign Petition. This requests the City leaders to conduct a traffic study for the intersection of NE 5th Ave and E. Palmetto Park Road before the apporval of Houston’s on the Wildflower site.

The traffic study was ordered by City Council at last year’s goal setting setting, almost one year ago! It is still not scheduled, while the new Houston’s project is making it’s way through the approval process.  

THIS STUDY SHOULD BE DONE BY A NON-PARTIAL OUTSIDE FIRM BEFORE THE HOUSTON’S APPROVAL.  IT SHOULD NOT BE SCHEDULED TO TAKE PLACE DURING THE SUMMER MONTHS. IT MUST BE CONDUCTED DURING THE ACTIVE WINTER SEASON!

Click here for TRAFFIC STUDY PETITION 

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Wildflower Site – More Survey Results Favor a Public Park

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On March 6, 2015 we reported on a social media survey result that indicated overwhelming support for a public park instead of a Houston’s restaurant at Boca Raton’s Wildflower site. This prompted us to look at the information that the City used to decide that a Houston’s restaurant was appropriate for the site. Our analysis of two City surveys also does not support the conclusion that the citizens prefer a Houston’s restaurant on the Wildflower site.

The following table contains a summary of three surveys. One is the social media survey and two others were performed by the City in 2011. Note that the City survey questions were rather general compared to the social media survey. By the time the social media survey was performed, the options for the Wildflower site were narrowed to two: a public park and a Houston’s restaurant. That is the reason for the relatively low “Other” score for the social media survey.

The totals of the three surveys show significant support for a park instead of a Houston’s restaurant (75% versus 10%). The difference would be significant even if all of the “Other” responses were added to the restaurant total (75% versus 25%). Following is a discussion of each survey.

The City Electronic Survey results were received by the City in the form of emails during the interval 6/28/2011 to 10/26/2011. The number of emails received by the City and analyzed by the authors of this article was 151. Slightly less than half were not included in this study for various reasons such as multiple emails received from the same citizen, content missing or not relevant, etc.

The City Workshop Comments are as a result of a special workshop held by the City Council on 10/18/2011 to receive comments from citizens regarding preferred usage of the Wildflower site. The comments are documented in the minutes from the workshop, which can be found in the following link.

https://bocawatch.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/filebocaraton_bbd4c9ce-06f5-4bb6-a015-2e3f280ebac7.pdf

The Social Media survey was started on 2/27/2015 regarding preferred usage of Boca Raton’s Wildflower site. The survey was concluded on 3/1/2015. The two Boca Raton-focused Facebook Groups that were surveyed are BocaWatch and Old Boca 2. The survey requested the following: We’re having a poll to see how many members favor a park versus a Houston’s restaurant on the Wildflower site. Please comment with either “Park” or “Houston’s Restaurant.” There were 201 group members responding to the survey. Two members of both groups responded to the survey from both groups, so one of their responses was deleted to eliminate redundant responses. As mentioned above, the relatively low number of “Other” responses was influenced by the narrow scope of the survey question. Some responses indicated only that they did not prefer a Houston’s restaurant, so these responses were included in the other category.

The next steps are to communicate this to the City Council and request that they stop plans for a Houston’s restaurant and begin planning for a public park at the Wildflower site.

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Sleeper Cells in Boca Raton-Part 2

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In the first of the Sleeper Cell(s) series it was suggested that there are predispositions to over-development embedded in Boca Raton’s elected and appointed public officials.

Presented here is an analysis of this thesis concentrating on an appointed member of the prestigious Planning and Zoning Board and the Downtown Boca Raton Advisory Committee; to wit: Glenn E. Gromann.

Mr. Gromann is a prominent public figure often quoted as an authority for growth, density and development issues.  He currently holds two influential seats on boards and committees here in Boca Raton.  These are

1)  Chairman, Downtown Boca Raton Advisory Committee (DBRAC); and

2)   Member, Boca Raton Planning and Zoning Board (P&Z)

First appointed to the DBRAC in January, 2007.  Mr. Gromann has served continually since.  His current term is due to expire in January, 2016.

A public records request has produced 6 applications from Mr. Gromann submitted for appointment to this position.  Most notable are the 2007 and 2012 filings, each containing resumes of 9 and 49 pages respectively.  In all these documents, Mr. Gromann holds himself out as an Attorney at Law with 30+years of experience in real estate development.  In 2012 he states that he is also a lobbyist with no indication as to whom he is lobbying for and what projects were potentially involved.

Mr. Gromann’s appointment to the P&Z Board was awarded in January, 2013. Public Records reveal that in his application of January, 2013, he again identifies himself as a land use attorney and developer with experience in planning and zoning matters.  Of particular note in this application is that he no longer claims to be a lobbyist – again with no explanation.

In the attached cover letter to the 2013 application, Mr. Gromann incorporates by reference the resume(s) previously filed with the city.  No additions or deletions were offered to update these resumes and apparently there is no due diligence performed by the City Council on the content of such an application or the character of the applicant.

 At the time of this appointment, Mayor Haynie, Former Mayor Whelchel and former CRA Chair Constance Scott all were quoted in the newspapers as holding Mr. Gromann out to be the best thing since sliced bread…..Really?

Three requests have been made in the last 30 days by me to City Hall for an audience with the Mayor and the City Attorney to comment for this article….to date, none have been responded to….

So why no responses….  Let’s take a closer look…..

Item 1 researched is Mr. Gromann’s claim to be an Attorney at Law.  A review of the documents and a look at his website reflects his claim to be a member in 7 state Bar Associations (N.Y., N.J., Tx., Mi., Mo., Ha, and D.C.).  Conspicuously missing is the State of Florida.  Research as of February, 2015 reflects that he is administratively ineligible to practice law in New Jersey and the Texas Bar indicates he is not eligible to practice in that state.

Although Boca Raton’s public records are ambiguous as to Mr. Gromann’s status in this state, further review reflects references by him for having status with the Florida Bar as an “Authorized House Counsel” pursuant to Florida Bar Rule 17.1 et al.  This rule is an extensive exercise requiring the out of state attorney applicant to provide significant documentation on a yearly basis to the Florida Bar and await an approval process by the Florida Supreme Court. 

As of February, 2015, per the Clerk of the Florida Supreme Court’s listing, Mr. Gromann is not listed as an Authorized House Counsel.  Furthermore, the Florida Bar has no history of his ever applying for such status.  Therefore, Mr. Gromann is not authorized to render legal advice in this state.  Any assertion to the contrary is a misrepresentation of a Florida Bar status or, more appropriately, lack thereof.

Item 2….

Contained within the January, 2012 resume is his involvement in extensive real estate projects and stating his role as “special counsel” to developers in “construction commercial/development/residential real estate transactions exceeding $6 billion dollars.” 

Of note is that this resume is on Seawood Builders stationary, identifying him as “Glenn E. Gromann, Esq., Executive Vice President/General Counsel” (note, this is the resume where he also claims to be a lobbyist). 

Newspaper and web articles report his involvement in development plans to invest over 1 billion dollars in and around the Town Center area of Boca Raton.  No indication is given as to who are the investors and/or participants in these projects or their current development status rendering these claims difficult to determine if conflict exists on the part of Mr. Gromann.

A January 2013 Sun-Sentinel article raised the potential conflict of interest question by the appointment of a developer and land use attorney to the quasi-judicial P&Z board.  In this article, Mr. Gromann claimed that he does not, currently, own any property or represent anyone who might soon have projects before the P&Z Board. He is further quoted as stating “I currently do the same things other P&Z board members do…”  A curious statement at best considering all the claimed development interests identified.  No proof has been offered by Mr. Gromann nor sought by the administration to support these assertions nor any explanation presented as to the status of the projects he previously claimed.

A cursory Google search reveals other development activity in the relevant time frame exampled by a November 2013 sale/purchase and finance deal for a parcel of land in the Arvida Park of Commerce (APOC).  Parcels in APOC have often been in front of the P&Z Board over the last few years in which Mr. Gromann voted in the affirmative.  Furthermore in January, 2014 he announced plans to bring baseball to Boca including a proposed Tri-Rail station by the Boca Center area, a location close to his purported billion dollar investment strategy.

Certainly there is a need to identify with whom Mr. Gromann is doing business.  By his own statement, he claims that the major accomplishment from 2009 to 2012 was his creating a $100 million development firm. 

So what’s not included in the City’s public records…..

November 2009 – 2012…the same relevant time frame in which Mr. Gromann claims to have created a $100 million development firm, he and 10 others were the subject of a Federal Trade Commission complaint for alleged fraudulent business practices in the state of Ohio (see Federal Trade Commission vs. The Debt Advocacy Center et. al., Case # 1:09CV02712) resulting in, amongst other things, a settlement that permanently bans Mr. Gromann from selling any mortgage assistance relief services.

So what’s the big deal…

Appointed public figures in a serious quasi-judicial role on the Planning and Zoning Board should be free of controversy.  Certainly not the case here.  These appointees also should be free of conflict of interest, whether direct or indirect, and/or even the appearance of conflict.

The items uncovered and presented here raise serious concerns.  Just the misrepresentation as to Authorized House Counsel status with the Florida Bar should be enough for the City Council and the City Attorney to take action.  Couple that with the incredible extent of real estate projects he has claimed clearly heightens possible conflict, a concern worthy of inquiry. 

There is no assurance that the items coming in front of the P&Z Board would not result in a direct or indirect benefit to Mr. Gromann and/or his business associates.  Finally, the level of his developer related activities supports the assertion of a predisposition to development or, more appropriately, overdevelopment that he brings to the P&Z Board.

With all this said, you, the reader, may take your own judgment on whether Mr. Gromann is an appropriate choice to remain an appointed official in both these important fact finding and advisory roles.  In roles which, often times, lead to policy determinations at the highest levels of our city government and the ultimate implementation of strategies at the administrative levels. 

I, for one, have already done so….

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Ramblings of an Idealist

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I’ve never sang the “don’t cry for me Argentina” theme and I think doing so would dampen others moral. We should all stay in the boat and keep rowing in the same general direction, even if the current we row against has been stronger the last few years. (Weinroth and Singer supporting our causes? Facebook should have a boo button?).

To be clear, one vote against four is trivial, but one microphone on City Council, in the right hands, is very powerful. I was much more successful in my first term than in my second and here’s why. Most close followers of Boca politics know the Haynie camp and Whelchel camp were historically at odds. That changed in my second election cycle which was shared with the election for the seat occupied by Constance Scout. During that campaign cycle, Haynie and Constance Scott began demonstrating allegiance to Whelchel, regardless of how egregious. Those allegiances produced, on expedited hearing schedules, Archstone, the current Mark building, the off-campus dorm (even though recommended for denial by FAU, the police, traffic department and the City Attorney’s office).

So where were my successes, especially in my first term when Haynie was more responsive to the electorate, and especially before the Editor of the Sun Sentinel, Howard Saltz, began to restrict the local reporters stories to advance is personal pro-development bias? (Yes Saltz, I’ve called you out. You’ve been squelching the citizens voice since at least 2012 and its dispicable. The Sun Sentinel on Boca matters is completely biased. Honest reporting is what keeps politicians accountable to the people). But I digress.
So if I didn’t have that microphone, and the then honest reporting from the Sentinel:
1. There would already be a restaurant on the Wildflower named Bricktop’s, a spinoff from a founder of Houstons. And the taxpayers would have paid millions to make it happen.
2. The Amphitheater wouldn’t be in the hands of the City, but would instead be in the hands of the person who managed it into darkness for a two year period; only the rest of the Council was ready to give him a bailout of $1.2 million/annually for programming and a $30/month management contract. You the taxpayers own it now and it operates in the black, not red.
3. The Council would have blessed the Beach and Parks District to grant a lease for a private beach club on PUBLIC land on the beach between Palmetto and 40th Street.
These are only three examples, but one microphone can be very powerful. Unfortunately, it’s only powerful with the synergy of an honest newspaper. I encourage anyone reading this to become more aware of the politics behind the Sentinel. http://www.miaminewtimes.com/2012-07-26/news/sun-sentinel-editor-howard-saltz-bailed-on-millions-in-debts/

So from a red white and blue idealist, always vote, even if it’s for only one Council seat. It matters!

More importantly, now that we have a new Councilman, watch the meetings. Get to know your Council Members personally and let them know what you think about your issues. I can tell you the development lobby is in their ear all the time telling them what’s best for you.

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At Last … A Meaningful Town Hall Meeting for Boca Residents

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Kudos should be given to Councilman Scott Singer for inviting citizen participation in a one-of-a-kind Town Hall meeting on a Saturday morning.  The meeting was held at the City of Boca Raton Community Center and the overflow crowd had plenty to discuss.  Originally scheduled from 9:30AM to 11:00AM, the meeting went beyond 11:30 with folks wanting still more.

The meeting was congenial with a high participation rate from various citizens.  The Councilman did a terrific job in monitoring the proceedings.  He encouraged those in attendance to reach out to him via email or phone and stated that “while we may not always agree, I will always respond.”  A number of people nodded in agreement since they had already experienced Mr. Singer’s quick response.

Since development has been a hot button issue in the last two elections, it came as no surprise that development issues were the topics du jour.

The main topics include:

Wildflower Property – A Park or Restaurant? Overwhelmingly, those in attendance felt a park was better suited for the property.  It was pointed out that this was the original intent for the purchase by the City.  A suggestion to create an “Active Urban Green Space” with small-scale concessions was well received.   Resident Jim Wood presented documented surveys from citizens that support a Park. A planning & Zoning hearing re: rezoning of the north end of property is scheduled for April 9th, 2015.

770 E. Palmetto Park Road (Chabad) – Numerous issues raised for this problematical property in our beach area.  The citizens were very outspoken about their concerns:  Traffic through the neighborhood, parking, traffic congestion on Palmetto Park Road, violation of code as to usage, safety and more.  In order to get a sense of the scale of this project on this relatively small parcel of land it was suggested that everyone view the promotional video created by the Chabad.  You may access the video by reading the article written by Kevin Meaney under “Hot Topics” and click on the link for the Chabad video, or see link below.  This issue will come before City Council on April 14, 2015.  Citizens should take advantage of the opportunity to express their opinion.

Traffic/Fifth and Palmetto Park Road.  Traffic all over this city has increased significantly and Mr. Singer acknowledges that more population is headed our way which will further exacerbate the problem.  The Fifth and Palmetto situation ties into not only existing traffic problems but Wildflower, 770 E. Palmetto, The former Archstone property and other future build-out of the downtown.  It was recommended that the medians be eliminated at intersections to create left turn lanes.

The loss of a cohesive plan and vision for our City.  It was stated that the City has seemed to have lost its sense of vision for both the short term and long term plan.  It was suggested that a  vision or comprehensive plan be stated and then followed.  This was met with some skepticism since a prior “Downtown Master Plan” created in 2007 was not followed in the spirit intended.

Concern over giveaways to developers via Technical Deviations, Variances and modification to City Code.  It was mentioned several times the frustration that residents experience when developers receive special treatment from city officials, which creates greater density and related traffic issues.  It was asked that the city no longer grant these exceptions.

Evaluation of The Mark.  Citizens are not happy with The Mark.  This is the first completed project that follows the Interim Design Guidelines (IDG) and Pattern Book.  It is felt that this is not an attractive building and not what should be representative of future building in our city.  Mr. Singer stated that the project needs to be considered in the framework of the overall site, which includes the forthcoming Hyatt Place on Palmetto and Federal Highway.  A special Workshop with City Council is tentatively scheduled for April 29, 2015 for this evaluation. Citizens should be prepared to come forward and give input on their concerns.

Our hired consultant, Urban Design Associates (UDA). Is this a case of the fox guarding the hen house?  UDA is the primary creator of the original Downtown Master Plan.  They are also responsible for putting their “blessing” on the Interim Design Guidelines and Pattern Book.  They will be partly responsible for the evaluation of The Mark.  Even though the citizens pay the bill for this consultant, they have interacted with City Staff and the development community exclusively ever since the creation of the Downtown Master Plan. It was suggested, by many, that an “independent” source be responsible for the evaluation.

Perhaps, one of the most poignant comments came from Mr. Al Zucaro who stated – and I paraphrase, “Citizens are at a loss if these public debates are based solely on facts.  Experts are expert in manipulating facts.  If development decisions are decided on technical issues, the citizens lose.  If these decisions are decided on sentiment, the residents can win.  You, as our representative, must hear the sentiment and give it a voice”

Alas, so little time and so much to discuss.  Mr. Singer did a yeoman’s job of handling this event.  A special thank you is in order to all who attended, particularly those who offered their comments.

Let’s do this again.  Soon!

Click on link below to see the plans for 770 E Palmetto Park Rd-Chabad video: 

Chabd South Floida – My Israel

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E-Ciggs: A Letter to City Council From a Citizen

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Councilor Singer,

With respect, I am amazed.  I am 100% convinced that there will never be any
research that comes to the conclusion that nicotine is anything except
dangerous and addicting.  If that’s what you are waiting for, it simply
won’t happen.  

My humble opinion:  
– Knowing what we already know about nicotine (visit the Surgeon General’s
website), you should have voted in favor of my (our) family’s safety, and
waited for the research that says it is safe (which will never happen),
instead of the other way around.  If the data you saw was inconclusive, err
on the side of caution!
– The penalties could easily be adjusted in the ordinance, simply ask that
it be so.  You run the city – this is a weak position for you to stand upon.
– And no one is denying these folks the right to kill themselves.  They just
have to go outside, so they don’t poison me and my wife and daughter, same
as tobacco.
– It’s even worse that tobacco.  I can smell tobacco and get the heck away
from the menace.  In the case of e-cigs, I may be breathing this poison
without even knowing it!
– Meanwhile, we either agree to get poisoned in eateries, movie theaters,
city council meetings, etc., or we have to get up and leave in the middle of
the meal, movie, meeting…..

Sorry, there’s no way you can convince me that common sense was applied in
this case.  With that said, I have to choose my actions.  They are:
– Get up and leave the e-cig environment, even in the middle of the meal.  I
will kindly explain to the owners that I won’t pay for the meal they have
served, and ask them to appeal to you and the Council for relief.  Same in
the movie theater, etc.
– Campaign on this issue at election time.  There are a lot of families in
this town who don’t want their children exposed to nicotine, especially when
it’s often undetectable, as in e-cigs.  I am putting money away as we speak
for the mailers.  

Sorry to be so blunt, but it’s important to me that I speak out on this
issue.  If you choose to take another look at this issue, please let me
know, contact info below…………

Joe Panella

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Houston’s on the Wildflower Site a Done Deal ….WE THINK NOT!!!!!

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At the bottom of the Facebook thread below a sitting member of the Planning and Zoning Board, Glenn Gromann, states that Houston’s restaurant is a “done deal” on the Wildflower site. That statement conflicts with Page 7 of the attached  Development Services Report (see below), which requires a Comp Plan Change, as well as being in conflict with the video recorded testimony of the City Manager (see below) .
 
Mr. Gromann’s statement is not only wrong, but clearly improper.   As a member of the P&Z quasi-judicial board, he is obliged to make informed decisions based upon the record evidence presented at a public hearing on the issue; to wit: a hearing that has not yet been scheduled for presentation to the P&Z Board.
 
His statements clearly demonstrate a predisposition on this matter and this predetermination must disqualify him from participating in the official discussion of the Houston Restaurant application.
 
Also, after you, the reader, review the provided City Council Workshop video….one can only describe the logic as…..asinine…..
 
The City Manager, on February 9th, stated that the traffic study for the intersection of Palmetto Park Road and N.E. 5th Ave will not be concluded until the end of the year while the Wildflower site will be brought for final action in the May–June time frame…..really????
 
Considering the public concerns about this intersection, how can the Wildflower property be a done deal…..talk about putting the cart before the horse……Not to mention that this study needs to be conducted during the seasonal months, not during the summer months!
 
One final note….of all the supposed facts stated by Mr. Gromann, the one fact most important but not stated is that there are no final agreed upon terms nor is there a signed contract between the parties…..Hence, the RFP can easily be rescinded…..
 
So do not be fooled….this deal is by no means a done deal and if the BocaWatch – Old Boca 2 survey of this past weekend is reflective….we, the citizens, demand a different outcome then that of just another eatery, whether on the waterfront or not


 Excerpts from an Facebook thread dated March 1st and 2nd…..

·  Mia Krauss That sounds like you are fine with building a Houston’s at Wildflower as long as they rpovide a dock for the megaboats that will park there….except of course, the citizens would prefer to have access to the water at Wildflowers…I am still undecided about this election and am listening carefully to the “between the lines” stuff….please state your position on the Wildflower property on whether it should be made a park for the citizens whose tax dollars actually bought it, or sell it to the highest bidder so only the few can use it…..and cmpletely tie up the Palmetto, 5th Avenue intersection forever….
March 1 at 7:18am · Like
·  Jeremy Rodgers Mia, there is no between the lines and you can ask me directly anytime you’d like. I liked Lynore’s idea of a park and food trucks, and I like Andrea’s ideas of turning it into an active kayak rental/paddleboard rental (that is something missing in the city, should be explored more), but as I understand it, the process is moving forward as a restaurant and terms are already being negotiated. One councilmember isn’t going to change that. More importantly, I think the case can be made that a waterfront dining experience is sorely lacking in Boca. I think securing public access to walk/bike the waterside and opening up waterfront dining likely results in more people enjoying the space than even a park.
What I can commit to is making sure Silver Palm is protected, both their dockage and parking, and that traffic issues are mitigated at what is a messy intersection already. I think the best way we do that is insisting on docks [and maybe a boardwalk] publicly accessible behind the restaurant site, looking for traffic solutions, and insisting that silver palm park does not turn into Houstons park-ing. The private property on the SW corner could likely lease parking to Mizner, and two other nearby adjoining properties are being considered. I realize we may have some difference of opinion here, I hope you appreciate the honesty, I’d be interested to hear how you think the new councilperson should move forward.
March 1 at 11:47am · Like

·  Mia Krauss Thanks for your reply….are you certain Houston’s is a done deal? As in papers being signed…..
March 1 at 11:48am · Like

·  Jeremy Rodgers It was my impression they agreed on a lease and terms but full site plan not accepted; I’m not positive though, I’ll find out. That was at the meeting where many people spoke up on it — it was actually a pretty positive meeting on all sides and one of the better attended meetings with a lot of great input from residents. If anyone else a more definitive answer, please chip in Andrea George Anthony Al.
March 1 at 11:53am · Like

·  Mia Krauss What Palmetto needs is a fly-over to A1A like Deerfield has..I remember the Mayor laughing about the flyover to nowhere….
March 1 at 11:53am · Like · 1
 
·  Andrea Levine O’Rourke It’s always a wonderful thing to have open discussion that includes the residents at anytime. However the timing of Park vs Houston’s is a bit off. Houston’s was already approved and is in the approval/lease negotiation phase. They do have many obstacles to overcome re: parking, dockage and the already unsafe intersection of Palmetto & 5th (just west of the bridge). Add that to the controversy from Silver Palm park and the boaters, there will be some real challenges for Houston’s to overcome. But from the posts going on on Old Boca 2 this weekend, it is pretty clear that the residents strongly favor a park. Not to say I won’t enjoy walking to Houston’s from my house if they can get it “all” worked out…but in my opinion and for what it’s worth, I am in favor of a beautifully designed urban, active, green space with snack shack, boat and kayak rentals, scuptures and more. Let’s all stayed tuned…
March 1 at 3:35pm · Edited · Like
 
·  Joe Panella What worries me is the finances. Look at Mizner Park-a great destination but a massive financial failure for the taxpayers. If an eatery at Wildflower is going to be so viable financially, why would no business person touch it? Also, when the numbers go south the councilors will be long gone and the only choice will be to tax us further in order to keep the books balanced. The city should not be in the real estate biz. That said, I hope when you are elected you will delay the final outcome at least until such time it can be proved that this will be a plus for taxpayers…….
March 2 at 7:57am · Like · 1
 
·  Glenn E. Gromann The Houston’s project is a done deal not sure where everyone has been so let’s look at the facts: 1) The RFP had NO requirement for docks; 2) There have NEVER been boats docked at the Wildflower location to include the four (4) different restaurants/owners located there including the old Wildflower; (5) you cannot put docks in that close a proximity to the bridge–the Army Corps of Engineers would never allow it; (6) NOTHING is happening to the boat ramp at Silver Palm Park, there is typically a park ranger present to prevent folks from tying up there–no one ever tied up on the Silver Palm side dock to go to the Wildflower and never was a problem in the past; (7) Almost 40% of the people who use the boat ramp DO NOT LIVE IN THE CITY OF BOCA RATON as they have County permits issued as part of the requirement to do the same as part of the orginal acquistion; (8) the site plan was submitted for approval several months ago (all online on the City website) and Hillstone has already agreed to put whatever dockage it can to the north of the property; (9) a $500K per year ground lease plus a percentage rent (% of gross sales) could effectively yeild $900K per year in rent–that puts this deal in the top 1% of ground lease deals for what is going there–in the country. There is no park, no one ever proposed such a use at the City. Again this is a done deal and will cause an immediate increase in home values in the area due to walking distance to one of the best restaurant chains in the US.
March 2 at 8:53pm · Edited · Like

 
Glenn E. Gromann I understand your perspective and argument Mia. The State Legislature has enacted laws that prevent votes on development orders as you suggest. Sometimes its a double edged sword. Houston’s must file federal tax returns and do audited financial statements. Wildflower property had always been a restuarant use as well as the Maxwell’s chophouse property–also now vacant. I am surprised that there would be so much opposition. Further, there are many, many new developments in the pipleline that are entitled as a matter of right where extra height and other things are not sought. Two 100′ buildings on the backside of Royal Palm Road, the Chabad, new two story office by City Hall (yellow signs are up)? What is the perspective on that type of thing. If not aspproved the City would be liable to the owner as a “taking” under constitutional law.
March 2 at 9:41pm · Edited · Like


The document below is from the City of Boca Raton Development Services regarding the Houston’s Devlopement Process. Note: the areas marked Houston’s. If you have difficulty reading this chart click on Development Services and then go to Projects in Review, pg 7

Dev_Svcs_Status_Report_3-01-2015-1

This You Tube is an excert from the City Council Workshop regarding the traffic study of NE 5th Ave and Palmetto Park Road impacted by the Houston’s development

 

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Houston’s vs Green Space: Amazing Response to a Survey on Social Media

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The City is currently negotiating the details of a proposal from Hillstone the owner of the Houston’s restaurant chain to develop a restaurant on the site of the former Wildflower restaurant. Many residents expressed a desire for the City to develop an active green space (park) on the Wildflower site, so BocaWatch decided to survey members of two Facebook Groups to better understand the sentiment on this issue. On February 27, 2015 a social media survey was started regarding future usage of Boca Raton’s Wildflower site. The survey was concluded on March 1, 2015. The two Boca Raton-focused Facebook Groups that were surveyed are BocaWatch and Old Boca 2.
 
The survey requested the following: We’re having a poll to see how many members favor a park versus a Houston’s restaurant on the Wildflower site. Please comment with either “Park” or “Houston’s Restaurant.” There were 201 group members responding to the survey. Two members of both groups responded to the survey from both groups, so one of their responses were deleted to eliminate redundant responses.
 
The results of the survey are:

167 (83%) members prefer a park

14 (7%) members prefer a Houston’s restaurant

20 (10%) other responses that did not fit into either category. For example, some responses indicated only that they did not prefer a Houston’s restaurant, so these responses were included in the other category.
 
Thanks to all who participated. The survey results will be communicated to the City and you will be informed of progress.

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Art Shows Head South to Boca in 2016

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Ah Boca Raton.  The shopping the beaches, the shopping…the art?  Yes indeed, Boca Raton’s cultural scene is about to get a jolt with the addition of two major art shows.

Art fair organizer David Lester plans to offer the American International Fine Art Fair on Jan 28-Feb 7 , 2106 at two weekend format.  Expect paintings, sculptures, drawings and 20th century design. In addition Art Boca Raton will take place March 17-21, 2016.  This is a Boca Raton versions of Lester’s Art Palm Beach, featuring contemporary, modern and emerging sculpture and photography.

Lester would not yet reveal the location of the fair.  But he spoke enthusiastically about the market, as well as the fair’s partnership with the Boca Museum of Art.  Lester believes Boca Raton is the perfect location for his art shows which feature high-end dealers selling art for thousands or millions of dollars.  “It;s a lot of new money, younger money,” Lester said.  “It means aspirational money.” Put another way, it’s the type of money that likes to buy and showcase important, and pricey, artwork.

Last month Lester’s Palm Beach International Fine Art & Antique Fair bowed out after 18 years of shows in West Palm Beach.  The decline in the antique market, plus failed joint with venture with a Dutch firm, were among the reasons for the last-minute cancellation. That left the newer, successful Palm Beach Jewelry, Art & Antique Show as the only show of its kind at the Palm Beach Convention Center last month. This year the show has had more vendors than ever before.

Lester used to hold his Palm Beach Fine Art Show in decorated tents in downtown West Palm Beach.  When the convention center opened, the show moved there, but Lester said the venue is too big. “I didn’t need thousands of people, I needed hundreds of people.”  The right people, as Lester might say.  He’s not interested in the great unwashed.

So dealer size at the Boca Raton shows will range from 60 to 70, to assure quality and exclusivity.  Lester hopes to draw buyers from wealthy enclaves in Broward and Miami-dade counties, as well as buyers in Palm Beach County.  he also hopes dealers that pay heavy fees to ship art to fairs, will be persuaded to stay four months in Palm Beach County, hitting his Concept Art Fair in Miami in December, Art Palm Beach in West Palm Beach in January, and then Boca Raton Shows in February and March.

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Palm Beach County Public Corruption

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On page B-3 of Saturday’s Palm Beach Post is a report that West Palm Beach has provided a full time investigator to the State Attorney’s unit on Public Corruption.  Dating back about a decade now, West Palm Beach experienced two of its ex-City Commissioners, Ray Liberti and Jim Exline, being prosecuted and jailed on public corruption type charges during a time when the U.S. Attorney’s Office focused on Palm Beach County’s public corruption politics.
Known as the “corruption county”, Palm Beach county experienced three of its ex-County Commissioners, Tony Masilotti, Mary McCarty, and Warren Newell, being prosecuted and convicted through these efforts.  Since then, public corruption has taken a lower profile.
Congratulations to State Attorney David Aronberg for making public corruption a priority again.  This effort should send signals to all those holding elected and appointed public positions to beware of your actions, both overt and covert.  There are ‘eyes’ watching, who stand ready to protect the public trust….

Click on this link to Palm Beach Post News Article.

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