BocaWatch’s video commentator, Jack McWalter, is back to discuss the Midtown rezoning issue. Boca’s Midtown is a major topic of discussion among residents, and has drawn a mix of supporters and opponents. Jack shares his thoughts on the project, and how he feels about outside interests writing ordinances which favor developers and are detrimental to the residents. Watch for more.

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Born and raised in Chicago and a graduate of Loyola University. I went on to study at Chicago Kent Law, part of Illinois Institute of Technology, but stopped short to serve in the US Army for 3 years. Moved to Boca Raton with my family 35 years ago and began a 32 year career with IBM as Sales Executive and Business Director Manager with the Manufacturing Technology Center - now the Don Estridge School. Volunteering is in my blood, I especially enjoy working to raise money for children with special needs at the Jewish Community Center and look back fondly on the years spent coaching soccer and supporting Boca Jets football. My two children attended Addison Mizner, St Andrew's, Boca High, and are both graduates of University of Florida. If I sound like a fighter I am, beat cancer three times and I support all survivors who face that same challenge.

5 COMMENTS

  1. Thank you for your bringing attention to this matter. The history of this PM rezoning leaves our city government open to serious questions about accountability, transparency and openness. Honesty has not been a hallmark of the process. The midtown area has been “divvied up” between the mall operator, Crocker partners and Woolbright development. Between them they plan to build at least 6500 apartments. (Crocker’s allocation alone is 2500) . That took careful deliberate planning which was never disclosed to P&Z. When Crocker representatives did their roll out of the project to get support from the neighbors they admitted they had been “working on this for 7 years”. 7 years ago the PM ordinance did not exist. but it was being approved as a concept and was passed shortly before Crocker bough this property back from TIAA. To me as a citizen that smells. What does this say about openness? Clearly, this was an admission as to who was truly behind this PM initiative..This has NEVER been about “mobility” but was always a disguised upzoning – a gift to apartment developers. It’s not a coincidence that Crocker bought back Boca Center from TIAA in 2015 but only AFTER the area zoning maps were changed to PM. Yes, you are correct- lawyers for Crocker have been handling this for years, It pains me to write this because after 24 years of voluntary service to this town I believe we have been “sold out” and deliberately deceived. I told myself I would keep quiet about this when i resigned from the P&Z Board but folks, you deserve to hear the truth.. Some people say to me “:don’t make enemies, Steve”, but folks these people are not my friends, nor are they yours. We will suffer the trauma of the traffic and congestion. They will profit.The seduction of money infects this entire process. We deserve integrity and competence. Boca deserves better. Steve Utrecht, former Vice-chairperson, Planning and Zoning Board.

  2. Provided the information given by Mr. McWalter and Mr. Utrecht is accurate and I have no reason to believe it is not completely correct, I strongly concur and suggest the City Council take back control of Boca Raton and provide the residents with the right to know what is happening with this project. Thank you for your continued investigation and commentary.

    • Thank you John ! The real question is how much influence do residents still have? The influence of voters- does it overcome the influence of a 4 billion dollar developer? Still pondering that one.

  3. John, Thank you for all the work and time you put into this excellent and informative video. I think think that MIDTOWN BOCA is really massive rental housing development that the builders are trying to sell to us as a Village! I feel that we are not getting any conceptual plans because they know that 2500 units will never resemble a Village once they draw it on paper! It is a massive rental housing project and will be detrimental to Boca’s already overcrowded school system. 2500 rentals will surely increase crime and negatively impact traffic which is already at a standstill on Military, Yamato and Glades Roads at rush hour. The mall is suffering due to increased internet sales and I don’t see any jobs for young professionals there in the future. Many of the IT jobs are on Yamato so with 4000 additional cars you could expect traffic to stand still on Military going north from MIDTOWN BOCA to Yamato. I agree with you that the City Council members should not approve these ordinances!

  4. Maybe part of the plan is to put blocks of storage units on the mall acreage. If people are asked to make do with a 500 square foot living space their precious stuff must be stored somewhere.
    Potential tenants should factor that cost into their budget as well.

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