Communication Breakdown In Midtown

What's happening, where it's broken down & my position on the matter.

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As a mayoral candidate in the upcoming August 28h election I’ve been walking all over Boca’s neighborhoods talking to residents face to face. Midtown keeps coming up. Residents are feeling frustrated with the process. They’ve been asking me, “what’s happening with Midtown” and “what’s your position on it?” As a resident I’ve had my own personal reactions to the facts as they’ve emerged, but as a publisher and candidate I’ve had a unique opportunity to hear about Midtown from all the different angles. This is a thorny issue but I’ll crystallize the state of Midtown, where the breakdown in communication is occurring, and how my perspective on it has transformed from listening.

What’s Happening with Midtown?

During the Small Area Plan meeting at the Spanish River Library, the facilitator announced a six (6) month time line for a draft report to the City Council; around November, 2018. Extrapolating further, the ‘plan’ would not be ready for City Council action until after the new year; a time delay of at least 9 months or more even in the best of circumstances. In the meantime, the area would remain blighted; the neighborhoods would remain in development limbo; the political and legal acrimony would proceed at fever pitch.

Complicating the matter now is that Crocker Partners, one of the developers has filed two lawsuits, one for damages with exposure to the City in the $135 million dollar range and one for declaratory relief.

Here is where the communication breakdown occurs.

The City Attorney apparently has instructed the council members that because of litigation, there should be no communication with the developer(s) on any matter involving the rezoning efforts and/or any potential negotiated compromise. All communications are shut down except through the mouths of lawyers.

How convenient and at what expense!

In fact, courts encourage communication and negotiation between parties. Have you never heard of ‘Court Ordered Mediation’?

Our elected officials again are deferring their responsibilities to protect the residents to the City Attorney; the same City Attorney whose actions or lack thereof are responsible for the city’s current ethics challenges. By shutting down communications our elected officials are left with no path to resolve the dispute resulting in the small area plan being further delayed for an indeterminate time.

Jack McWalter and I have spoken to Crocker directly, asking questions about this hypothetical Small Area Plan. For purposes of this discussion Jack and I used the latest iteration of the city staff’s draft ordinance and the public record presentations on the Midtown proposal at the P&Z Board and the City Council.

Originally, the Midtown Rezoning Plan proposed 2500 residential units for the entire geographic area; an area of approximately 300 acres. The P&Z Board recommended 600 units. Big difference from 2500….Since then, the Town Center Mall has opted out of the plan and Glades Plaza seems unlikely to move towards residential development; the small area planning process has a much smaller parcel to consider.

With those changes, there is now a new dynamic available for a renewed negotiation. Because the City Attorney’s instruction to the council members is to not engage, no communication or negotiation is progressing. Within the last 30 days, I have spoken three times with the developer in discussions to better understand the dynamics. These discussions have resulted in a completely different matrix for resident consideration.

Provided here is a visual for what amounts to a ‘small area plan’; a plan addressing elements such as unit count, density and allocations; Military Trail improvements; traffic; Tri-Rail requirements; street infrastructure/Infrastructure funding; building heights; street types; open space requirements; minimum floor area; existing building and structures; enhanced shuttle service; and more.  In fact, this visual is exactly what the community has been asking for; a visual depicting what the developer envisions.

 

The entirety of these elements is far beyond the scope of this essay. Suffice it to say that the developer is open to negotiation on any or all of these. Some comments do however have to be established in the context of openness and transparency.

The visual shows a reduced developer requested unit count to 1500; a number still thought to be too high. Another concern is the southwest corner land parcel, west of Military Trail, currently suggests a 300 residential unit development. This is troubling. Community residents have expressed the desire for that space to remain open; sort of an Urban Green Space. The developer is committed to dedicating some portion of this land parcel for such a green space that residents can enjoy. Assuming such a dedication, the developer’s unit count would then reduce to a more manageable number below the 1500 unit mark; some suggestion has emerged that 1000 units would be a comfortable level.

Other considerations are that heights would not exceed 125 feet, a reduction from the 145 feet currently contemplated; street types remain a subject for further discussion; and, developer agrees to staff’s open space requirement providing that right of ways and setbacks count toward meeting the requirement. A compromise of 600 square foot units with an 800 square foot average is proposed. Grandfathering existing structures is an open topic with the developer willing to agree to structural alterations when alterations exceed 50% of the structure’s value. Finally, an enhanced shuttle is desired by all sides. Payment of this amenity is up for negotiation depending on whether a CRA is established to service the entire area in the future.

This suggestion is not offered as a final solution for the MidTown project. These elements are merely a restarting point for the community to consider and comment upon; a starting point to again open up dialogue designed to meet the needs and wants of the community, the developer and, ultimately, the residents.

Ugh! Restarting Again?

Take it from this lawyer with two thumbs: it’s better than litigation.

Leadership requires communication and negotiation. Litigation is counterproductive; a lose-lose proposition; neither side actually wins in the courtroom but, most of all, Boca Raton residents ultimately have to suffer through the fight and also suffer large potential financial loses not to mention the impacts on quality of life and property valuations. The differences in this suggested proposal from what the staff has said it wants and what the developer need to get are relatively small but the current litigation posture makes it near impossible to resolve.

It is time to exercise leadership and sit across the negotiating table to bring this deal to closure. It is time to arrive at a practical solution for what will be a defining project in Boca Raton. That is what leadership demands and elected officials are responsible for; that is what is in the best interest of the residents.

And why am I doing this, why am I opening my self up to criticism, to misleading political mailers like the one you may have received in the mail recently?

Leadership!, Leadership! Leadership!  My Opponent, Acting Mayor Singer has not shown leadership in his past performance; his present performance; and, will not show leadership in the future.  

Some residents, like my stubborn Editor Jason Pelish, suggest playing chicken with litigation, thinking $135 million of other people’s money, your money, is worth gambling to keep the population lower. $135 million pays for a lot of pensions, a lot of splashpads, and maybe even a park or two. That’s a lot to gamble when negotiation is still possible. My position on it is that we’ve got to keep negotiating, that dialog is the way.

Please stop the posturing and, for the sake of the residents, seize the moment!

Al Zucaro
Publisher of BocaWatch

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Alfred Zucaro has resided in Palm Beach County since 1982 and has been a resident of Boca Raton since 2008. A graduate of Fordham University, he holds a Magna Cum Laude degree in Economics. Mr. Zucaro attended Nova University receiving a Juris Doctorate Law Degree in 1986. He is a member in good standing with the Florida Bar, practicing in the area of Immigration Law for the majority of his career. Currently he is manager/member of Palm Beach Investment and Finance LLC, a USCIS approved regional center identifying foreign investment leading to permanent resident status. Mr. Zucaro served as a City Commissioner in West Palm Beach from 1995 to 2002 and as the President of the City Commission in 2000/2001. He has also been a member of and/or served on the Economic Council, the Business Development Board, the Film and Television Commission, the Tourist Development Council, the Workforce Alliance and the Palm Beach International Film Festival. Of particular interest is his founding of the World Trade Center Palm Beach, an organization that focuses on international economic development. Married to Yvonne Boice, they are avid world travelers having visited 6 continents and dozens of countries since their 2008 nuptials.

28 COMMENTS

  1. Leadership!, Leadership! Leadership! My Opponent, Acting Mayor Singer has not shown leadership in his past performance; his present performance; and, will not show leadership in the future. ~ Al Zucaro

    You’re correct Al, this article demonstrates transparency and the leadership we are desperate for… looking forward to sharing this article with my concerned friends and neighbors.

  2. The plan looks a lot like Mizner Park, and a bit like Atlantic Avenue with all the small retail. Let’s not call it Midtown this could prove to be ‘Boca’s Heart’. Taking the initiative is what Leaders do thank you Al.
    If we can keep it to 1000-1200 high end units is a huge change from 2500 tiny boxes.
    I like all the trees and traffic calming on Military Trail too.
    Keep holding their feet to the fire Al to get the best project for us – someone has to do it.
    We know this acting Mayor is all talk, don’t be fooled folks, Al is working for us!

  3. It’s refreshing to read a comprehensive update on the state-of-play re: Midtown and of a possible negotiated compromise. This highlights the difference between an engaged and informed Mayor and one who relies on the questionable advice of sclerotic and incompetent city staff. Perhaps a new Mayor and a more resident-friendly City Council can produce a win-win outcome.

  4. Where will the children go to school that live in these 1500 new residences? Boca high I presume which is already well over capacity and bursting at the seams as is…The city cannot build another high school not because of money but we dont have any land parcel large enough for a new high school. I never see this brought up. Not to mention the extra traffic and congestion on Glades which is already bad enough and dont try and tout this live-work-play claiming it will minimize extra traffic as people can walk to work. 80% of the jobs within walking distance is low wage retail. I wonder how much Mr. Crocker is going to ask for these new units? How much do you want to bet the average retail worker that would make the most of the location could never even come close to being able to afford one. These greedy developers only care about one thing. They dont care about the effects of their projects on our infrastructure. At some point you need to say enough is enough and take a stand. Hopefully you are this guy Al but the way this article reads, it gives me pause.

  5. Dialogue, discussion, good-faith negotiations should always be welcome. But how does one negotiate with someone who is suing (threatening) you regarding the subject you are negotiating? A suggestion might be to have Crocker drop the lawsuit in order to reopen the dialogue with the city.

  6. Why do we have to put up with blackmail litigation from these greedy developers? If a developer decides to sue us, they should be blackballed from any rezoning requests or future building permits. Our city government should send a clear message to these corruption artists: PLAY BY THE RULES, OR GET OUT OF TOWN.

  7. Agreed, he seems like a typical school yard bully. I cant get my way so im gonna sue WAAAAA. Where does it say the city is required to allow him to rezone. Im not an attorney and admit to not knowing all the details or why his suit has a fighting chance of winning so someone please explain what i’m missing. He wants to rezone the city says no so that means he can sue. I realize anyone can try and sue for just about anything these days but unless he has a good chance of winning why should we back down? Just because you want to rezone something doesn’t mean the city is required to allow it. I’m still waiting on an answer of what to do with all the additional kids that would go to Boca High too…

  8. No good result can emerge without dialogue. Both our elected officials and Crocker have proven to be short-sighted and stubborn, but all can give that up “for the greater good.”

    Al, I don’t know how you managed to get the plan from Crocker, but it has been a very missing piece of the puzzle. Now that it is in the public domain, all can work to better the area with a context. Who would not want some workable version of what is proposed? It looks great…but it can’t work without not only the city and all property owners involved, it will require the owner of the infrastructure, the county.

    As I have contributed before, if the schools and roads can be designed along with the privately held parcels, this can be an awesome opportunity to create something special. The CRA notion does allow for every interest to be considered and should moot all litigation.

    Al, thank you for creating a platform for ideas to be discussed. I look forward to our electeds using the platform to share their ideas and not simply respond to posts. After this election Boca should have the time and people to come together and plan a great new future for Boca.

  9. It makes parents of children going to school in the city very happy to hear citizens asking the question finally, if we continue to develop what will our schools look like ? Laura brought up rezoning you’re absolutely correct they are going to take Boca kids and ship them out west to make the numbers work I even read an article where they may ship them as far as Boynton Beach because they have capacity. Arik you are absolutely right the developers could care less that our kids are jammed into the schools like sardines. Thank you everybody for continuing to make school overcrowding a priority, as I continue to say the children young adults and teachers of this community deserve a whole lot better. There has been zero discipline shown in the last couple years when it comes to over development. At least in this article we finally have a visual of what they’re talking about at Midtown thanks to Al Zucaro. Al has his finger on the pulse he has the children and teachers best interest in mind, Al is the guy to lead our city and get it back on track.

  10. The only one who wins in a law suit are the lawyers ….Al has been involved for years behind the scenes trying to bring us the truth. He trys not to take sides and bring us the facts so we might make our own decisions, putting us in contact with people, who we would never have a chance to convers with during our busy lifestyle. Al has created a platform for us to be enlightened and respond, a place to present our views, and have discussions with others who have different points of view. Just the fact that we now can see a preliminary plan for review and discussion is impressive. We need to work together and compromise to satisfy all who will be impacted with this project. There are many questions to be answered, some of which should have been considered way before this time by the city officials, who should have been proactive not reactive, who put us in this situation that we are trying to resolve now “what were they thinking and who were they thinking of? – certainly not families who have to commute every day or the children and the education they deserve. From planned mobility BS to Mizner disaster and the Wildflower city’s original proposal, it shows we need a change in the city from the bottom to the top in the direction and decisions we are going to make going forward. We have started and need to complete it with a new leader and council members that represent the residents views and concerns with this comming election. This is our city and it’s not for sale $$$. Remember the motto “A CITY IN A PARK” and thanks to the people who believe strive and have been abused for it.

  11. Congrats Al! You’ve become a shill for the developers!! So much for “resident friendly.” The density you are suggesting we accept is even higher with this plan being that it is over a significantly reduced area. 2,500 units over 300 acres weren’t acceptable but 1,000-1,500 units over 60+ acres are? AND ALL CONCENTRATED ON MILITARY TRAIL!?!?! What a joke! The P&Z suggestion of 600 units included the area of the mall and Glades Plaza meaning the region along military trail should have no more than 200!! Funny that the developers will meet with candidates multiple times but refuse to meet with local residents. I’m glad the current Council is refusing the meet with the developers. The developers had their chance for discussion and compromise and blew it.

  12. Seth, HOLY CRAP. Don’t you understand what is going on. We got developers that are pissed off and are ready to walk away. You talk like a tough guy . “They had their chance”. OK we follow your advise. 2 years from now headlines in Palm Beach Post. “Boca loses $135 million lawsuit and taxes go up 20%”. So the city council can pound their chest and say “We showed them”. Mean while Midtown area becomes more blighted and home values plummet in Paradise Palm and the rest of the surrounding areas. Oh Amazon puts Town Center mall out of business . Oh boy we showed those money hungry developers whose boss. Oh these guys are Tom Crocker’s guys. Remember him he built Mizner Park and the Crocker center. Oh in 2 or 3 years we have a recession and the developers go out of business. We showed them “they had their chance and they blew it”. Oh many residents decide to sell and get out on first sign of a recession. Now we got a dead area in the city. Singer and this city council are all replaced for being stupid costing the city $135 million. But they can brag right before Aug 28th how tough they are “We showed them”. Yesterday, Singer bragged that he wants to study Midtown some more. Christ sake we have been studying for years. Now the developers want to deal because they can’t afford to wait 2 or 3 years to get approvals. NOW we got someone who takes the initiative to find out what they have to offer. Look, they provided us with a Midtown Master Plan . 2500 units to 1250, 10 units an acre instead of 20. They gave up on the tri rail. We showed to urban planners and they said “HOLY CRAP’. 2 or 3 more Mizner parks. But no the council can’t see it or get involved since “we will show them “. Al, is not selling out he is buying into doing what is right. Engage, listen, educate the city , and let you decide what is right. We don’t advocate anything but showing you in detail what their plans are. What the hell is wrong with that?? This project is designed for young couples that will have kids. Both will be working so need a nursery and pre school. Guess what is being looked at for this project. Bobby Miller is leading the way for conservation and they are listening. And finally, they are looking at a elementary school. Al is leading this conversation. He is doing something Scott. The city will shut this project down over an argument on valet rules. Al is focusing on kids and schools and what is right. Now is the time to deal . Many of us told Al that to stay out of it. People won’t understand and you will lose the election . His attitude is that’s ok but I am doing what I think is right and that is getting the residents involved and help shape the Midtown area so it can be something good. In my video I said Midtown could be the Heart of Boca. But no Mr Singer said Al is selling out after he has approved 3500 units in last 3 years. Taken 1000’s from developers and Al zero. The Boca Watch staff are betting that the residents will understand what we are trying to do. I suggest you go to our home page and read our mission statement. It says nothing about elections but doing what is right .

    • Jack,

      You are making a huge assumption that the city is going to lose the lawsuit. The fact of the matter is the landowners could build right now based on the current zoning, Crocker just wants residential which is not in the current zoning. There is no moritorium on building in the area, the Council just hasn’t approved a zoning change for residential. Crocker will lose the lawsuit because other developers in the area already have plans in the works for construction based on current zoning.

      My comments are based on facts and not grandiose assertions of unrealistic worst-case scenarios. Amazing how you’ve gone from 0 to 60 from no development to whatever Al says. Another fact is that Crocker continues to assert that they have spoken to neighboring communities. That is an out-and-out lie. I have personally reached out to Crocker more than once and have been more than willing to have conversations regarding Midtown but have been ignored. I live in the immediate area and I’m not against development at all, I just want it done smart and done right. That’s not what’s happening in this case, especially with Al’s new BFF’s charm offensive.

  13. For those that are confused or think a new school is in the works you only know or saying part of the story. The new school planned is an “ELEMENTARY” school. Let me make it clear the city has NO SPACE for another high school even if they had the funding, PERIOD. These are words straight from Singers mouth. They need a min. of a 40 acre parcel for a new high school and there just isnt one, Plain and simple. So the only only thing to do is keep overcrowding Boca high more and more or move the boundaries. I dont know about you but I bought in Boca because of the schools. Let the mall go bankrupt then another high school can be built there. Dialogue is ok but at some point these developers need to get the message enough is enough. There should be no rezoning even considered if the project is going to add more than 10% then the existing number of units. Like Mizner on the green planned to go from 300’ish to 1,200 ish is complete insanity and B.S. STOP messing up this city. Good schools, great parks, Clean/safe/family neighborhood is Boca’s claim to fame. Concentrate on those simple basic principles and people will continue to want to move and live here. Keeping property values high. Flood the market, overcrowd the area and ruin the schools and no one will want to live here. If people wanted to live in Miami or fort lauderdale common sense says they would have bought there not boca. Development is fine but over development is not and we crossed that line some time ago.

  14. We just went through the worst depression/recession in most of the populations lifetime, unless your old enough to have been around for the great depression and guess what? Boca is still here and people still want to invest and buy a home here for now. You paint a very gloomy picture of boca if crocker doesn’t get his way but its all far fetched propaganda. If 2008 did not kill off boca, I highly doubt that just because some greedy cry-baby developer didn’t get to overdevelop the area, thats its going to cause this city to go straight down the toilet. Gimme a break… You say these units are designed for young families, like that means something. Many of the single family homes were “designed” as that too but that doesn’t stop owners from renting out a home to multiple families or students to the point they have to park all over the lawn or add to school overcrowding. Or illegally partitioning off the home to convert it into a duplex, triplex or quad. How in the heck can anyone sit there and predict that none of the 1500 units will have high school aged children. Seriously, oh he’s talking about another elementary school. Guess what? it is inevitable that those or any kids will get older and guess what that means? oh yea, they will eventually go to high school. So great not all the families will have high school aged kids right off the bat, but I will guarantee there will be some and as those “younger families” kids get older in 3,4,5,7 years then what. Sure some will move, but parents also like to try and keep their kids in the same schools. So sure they may move up and into a single family home at some point but if they stay in Boca then we are really in for a world of hurt a few years from now. Perhaps one solution to the school issue is a deed restriction that none of those address can use public schools and those parents must use private schools.

  15. Arik, I basically agree with you. No more growth of any kind. But this is not reality. Myself and many of my friends that are grand parents have their grand kids finishing college and there are lots of good jobs around in boca and they are looking for a lively area as in what midtown wants to be to live in. I am being selfish . I want my grand kids and frankly my kids to move back to boca and we are seeing that all over boca except in midtown area where housing values are stagnant. And we know why when you drive down military. Abandoned buildings. Ok you win. No more buildings in boca. We will show them. I got an idea lets pass an ordinance that boca is now an adult only town for those over 55 or 65. Yeh right. We need to look at above master plan and at least evaluate one way or another and that is what Al is proposing. We are trying to keep you informed. Certainly this council has quit but we at boca watch especially Al haven’t.

  16. Arik, I don’t think anyone is arguing that if Boca Center isn’t changed it’s going to go down the toilet. I, for one am afraid of it being changed because I use it a lot as a place to shop and eat. You’ve got two anchor markets on either side and lots of interesting places in between. The success of the place is one reason why I am not happy about it being changed at all. The liability we’re trying to avoid is to lose that money in a settlement.

    Everyone has touchy feelings about this, but think about the root of the problem we’re dealing with…. developers are so certain there’s going to be increased residential demand that they’re aiming to build even more homes for the people who want to move in. We could have the opposite problem: imagine nobody wanted to live here and nobody wanted to invest in making it so new residents can move in.

    You’re right with the demand side of the equation – that there will always be a demand that overshadows any obstacles to development. It’s impossible to keep that from stopping, and as long as the demand exists there’s going to be investment to try to meet it and people motivated to change the laws in order to facilitate meeting it.

    The only thing I can imagine to help manage that problem is prioritization of other factors that prevent the development from being so rapid. You could say “more planning” but in this case, Midtown, it’s been in planning ridiculously long. I looked at the archives of the City Council meetings, looking for a picture of a previous Council Member in a meeting recorded from 2012. I was shocked when they brought up Midtown like they were already worn out discussing it. I was critical of Angelo Bianco’s tone when I first wrote about Midtown last year, but then I had no concept of how long they’ve been at this. If I were in that position I would be pulling out my hair. I can see putting new restrictions on new zoning, but this thing has been bouncing back and forth for longer than anything on record – correct me if I’m wrong. I’m not into making it more crowded but it’s not like this project is something that just came up overnight. There could have been a clearer “no” when this was being first discussed but that didn’t happen.

    I’m not afraid of the city losing the case and losing the money. I’m afraid of having the folks who have the opportunity to build something wonderful get demotivated and produce something less than excellent. I’d be heartbroken at this point if I had to go through so many years of discussion about it.

    Someone whose opinion I treasure asked me today “Does BocaWatch scare people too much?” Does a critical and introspective force examining local government impede excellence in the community – keep people from being as bold as they need to be? It was a propitious question, to be asked as we’re pondering these things about Midtown today. The best answer I can give is that being bold alone isn’t enough just like expecting government to be able to remedy all issues alone isn’t enough. Both of those things are redeemed via transparency and iteration between stakeholders who care. Zucaro totally blew my mind when he showed me the diagram included in this article – something I never expected. The lesson I took away from it is that you can’t yield harmony without touching the thorniest issues. Being a leader means stepping beyond politics, going outside the box, not just bumping around within it among folks repeating the same excuses to each other. It means getting results for your people, being more than just a politician and more than just playing the numbers safe like a marketer. I’m sharing my awareness of that because I stepped up to the table here with lots of prejudices, thinking my opinions were absolute, but these bold souls are schooling me.

    The school overcrowding thing is the gorilla in the room. I think it would be kinda cool if the Midtown plan had some kind of multi-use facilities that could be used to enhance the experience of homeschoolers. For example socialization and phys-ed spaces for homeschool kids. You wouldn’t necessarily have to build a whole new school if the alternative experience is made better. If 200 kids lived in the new units but the new spaces helped 400 kids transition to homeschool and still have the best of both worlds, that would be an alleviating force reducing school overcrowding. This might be a little too idealistic to expect, but this is an uncomfortable box we’re all in as residents. If we are bold enough to think outside the box and use communication tools like this site as a resource to facilitate transparency, iteration and discussion then we the residents outside government can charge our leaders with the sentiment that makes them more decisive, able to serve us better. If we cross our arms and expect someone else to make the moves we’re squandering our opportunity.

    YOU can instead comment, share articles and sentiment on social media, even write an article for BocaWatch. Just because you don’t hear people agreeing or thanking you, doesn’t mean you haven’t encouraged them to think about it and care. You all’s comments got me thinking, that’s for sure.

  17. Its real plain and simple. IF YOU OVERCROWD THE FISH TANK YOU END UP SWIMMING IN S#*T ! You can try and argue that but anyway you slice it YOU would be wrong, but go ahead and try if you like. I’m not against Al or his efforts on trying to head this thing off at the pass and I plan on voting for him. I just hope he has the backbone to stand up to these greedy developers when the cards fall. You honestly think that these developers have the cities or your best interest at heart with these projects? Thats funny. They care about one thing and one thing only MONEY.

    Homeschooling facilities at midtown as a solution? Surely you jest… Most “young families” these days both parents work full time just to try and pay the high cost of rent/housing. Boca High is not expecting to be overcrowded, IT ALREADY IS 120%+ over. Moving boundaries, stopping the border jumping, is only a bandaid and will only fix a small percentage of the problem.

    How many other projects are already approved or in the process other than midtown that will add 1000’s or tens of 1,000’s of more families/students/traffic/crime etc. Midtown is only one piece of the pie. You ask what if nobody wanted to move here. That’s exactly my point. Sure it’s nice to have some stores to shop at and a plethora of restaurants to choose from, but dont we have enough already. If the younger ya-hoo’s want the “lively” atmosphere let them live in Ft. lauderdale or Miami. You can get that “lively” feeling just about anywhere. I for one would like to be able to send my kids up to 7-11 without fear of being carjacked and shot! Why do we want to be just like everyplace else? I know you were joking about the 55+ for the whole city but why does it have to be one extreme or the other. Some place in the middle is just fine. Why does “lively” = adding 1,000’s of extra units. Where are all these abandoned buildings over by midtown that is such an eyesore?

    Ask yourself what are the first 3 things that come to mind when you ask: what made Boca great to begin with?
    1.
    2.
    3.
    If schools wasn’t in the top 3 then you are either misinformed or lieing.
    So was overcrowded schools, streets, or high crime any one of those 3? you thought of? Hmmm. If so you should immediately list your home and move to Miami if you dont want to wait. Or you can just wait a few more years and stay here…

    Boca Raton is one of the only places in S. Florida that your child can go from K-12 in all A rated schools. Its not just a rating issue but a safety one as well. God forbid something happened at one of the schools like a fire or shooting and the kids couldn’t be evacuated fast enough and some died. How much do you think that lawsuit will cost the city??? Seems like if I was a judge or juror I would be much more likely to rule against a city that knew and ignored all the warning signs and did little to prevent it. You can slice this loaf of bread anyway you want but at the end of the day the schools are maxed and there isnt room for another high school. Thats facts! so unless all new development is excluded from attending public school there is only one answer. STOP adding 1000’s of new condo units every year. Then we can discuss the other issues. like traffic and crime.

    • Dude, me and you are going to have to put on my “Lake Monster” costume (I get the front) and apply some Scooby-Doo level spooky hijinks if we’re going to keep people from moving here. Last time I spoke about population levels in front of City Council Lulu Ramadan literally said I “attacked the population of Boca Raton”. It’s a very hot potato and most politicians avoid answering questions about it like you’re asking them to get a snake tattoo on their face.

      I like your 3 questions. My answers are 1. The Beach & Ocean 2. The Nature 3. The Weather. Boca was made great because of people like Don Capron, Gordon Gilbert and Jim Rutherford who made us treasure those things and preserve them more than our neighbors.

      I went to school here, public school decades ago. When I moved from NY during middle school the contrast in quality of education was like night and day. I was a dumb kid in NY but here that meant gifted!!! If you’re comparing other Florida cities Boca sounds better, but these schools in Florida have a long long way to go before they can claim “great”.

      If kids live in Midtown they’re not Boca High students. They’d go to Spanish River like everyone else west of I-95 unless there’s some weird exception for Paradise Palms or something.

      I knew the homeschooling mention would get laughed at, but a lot of parent’s reactions to concerns about safety is to homeschool. I think this trend will increase. Coach Roudy, a local trainer who works with kids opened my eyes to how many kids homeschool. He would help them meet their PE credits. The more people know about resources like that and what’s available, I believe, will make parents who are able to choose it more.

      I don’t think it’s fair to say ALL developers build only for the money. Of course they do it for profit, but I think what we want from them is more, for them to deliver excellence that will improve our quality of life. To say “ALL developers” doesn’t celebrate the ones who build great things that we use and enjoy. Developers who build disappointing places based only on profit are the ones we should discourage. But shouldn’t ones who are good be encouraged? Would we be booing and hissing at Addison Mizner if he were alive today?

  18. Erik, I could almost put my name on your comment. I have been railing against development for 2 years and now in last 6 months over crowding and safety in boca schools . My first time in boca was 1972 for 2 months of classes with IBM. I was shocked since I thought this place was paradise. In 1980 I moved here raised a family in great schools and still great as you said. When Midtown came about I did 4 videos against it. I said what you said. But reality is the city is going to rezone for housing and we are especially Al are trying to lesson the impact. I said 650 and than P&Z said 600 and now developers are saying ok instead of 2500 how about 1500. Closer to1250 or even better 1000 would be better OR as you said zero which I am inclined to agree. Al is just trying to inform the residents, keep dialogue going, talk it out instead of spending 2 to 3 years in a courtroom. What is wrong with that??? If the developers won’t deal with us we need to be ready to go the mattresses as they say in the movies. We need to vote Al and Kathy whom along with Monica and Andrea will be prepared to see this issue to its end. Zero development. Shut everybody down. Erik, you win.

    • Is not exactly what the Golden Triangle did to Archstone? Sue? Over and over. So now yr against lawsuits? Sound inconsistent.

      • Good afternoon Ann Marie,
        Golden Triangle did not sue. In the Archstone matter, some residents sued in order to stop the development; now known as Palmetto Promenade. The lawsuit you refer to here is the developer suing the city arguing that the city has failed to meet its obligation under the law. A completely different situation; a situation that has the residents/taxpayers at risk for a judgment possible as high as $137 million dollars. The applicable law in this case allows for a 150 day window for parties to resolve their differences. At this point no discussions are taking place….Why? That is the question being raised. AZ

  19. First there is a huge difference between Addison Mizner and that era. That was (developing) not the (overdevelopment) that is happening today. Addison Mizner was also more well known for his architectural style than his planning ability. He had many blunders throughout his career. This was also during a time of Boca Raton’s infancy when a person could walk across the federal hwy. blindfolded and have a better chance of getting struck by lightning than a car. So, yes I do think its fair to say the developers are in it only for the money. Look at the projects they purpose. They are almost always designed for maximum quantity of units above all else. Its only after the city planning rejects and asks for less units and more contributions to the area. Then this negotiation of unit density starts. If it wasn’t for the city and planning they would be slapping up high rise after high rise with zero regard. When was the last time a developer purposed a project that was responsible from the get go? I can’t think of one, all have had one common theme cram as many units in as possible. Sure there are some good architects out there that try to balance the structure and design (after all it has to at least look good so they will sell) with the surrounding area but I would be interested to hear from one of these Architects that could claim they are not under any pressure from the developer or investor to cram as many units as possible to maximize as much “profit” or money from the project. You can be as naive as you want but my eyes are wide open.

    Homeschooling can be a good option for some but if its done correctly it is very time consuming and a big commitment for both student and parent. Plus as I mentioned most young families do not have the financial resources or time for one parent to stay home these days. So, its not that I laughed at the homeschooling concept but I surely dont see it as a viable solution to Bocas schools overcrowding issue anytime in the near future or to justify the 1,000’s of new units being shoved down our throats. Boca High, Spanish river and just about every other school in Boca is ALREADY overcrowded. Sure some more than others but all are over their designed occupancy. The city can only play this game of student shuffleboard so long. Adding additions, modular (trailer) classrooms and moving boundaries will only delay the inevitable. Don’t look now but the inevitable is already here or at the very least FAST approaching!

    As far as your 3 items you mentioned that made boca great. Two of your picks “weather” and “beach & ocean” could be said for just about any city along the 1000’s of miles of Florida’s coast line. The question was what made “Boca great” NOT what made “Florida great”. I’ll give you “nature” since Boca has always been known for its parks and mostly undisturbed coastline but the other two are too generic to say or imply they made “Boca” great to begin with. While yes when you measure Boca or Florida schools against other schools in the country they have a ways to go. However if your a new young family looking to move to S. Florida and good schools are important to you then your choices quickly and I mean quickly dwindle. Especially if you want to live close to the “beach & ocean” When we moved to Florida Boca wasn’t our first choice but after comparing the cost of private school and the reputation boca schools had we ended up here. After all why do you think that Boca Raton is so highly sought by “young families” I’ll give you a hint its the schools. Don’t take my word for it go read the “school overcrowding” article on this site. Bocas claim to fame has always been;
    1. Good schools = Sure some cities may have an A rated school but few or none have A rated from K-12 Parents like to know when they move to an area they dont have to worry about their kids next school when they transition from elementary -to- middle- to -highschool.
    2. Nice parks and coastline = after all our slogan was a city within a park
    3. Sleepy, safe, small town feel = 3 for the price of one. Don’t take my word for it Boca has been considered by many to be this and whenever Boca Raton has ever been referenced in TV shows or Movies it has never been in conjunction with lively, party town, spring break, overcrowded, or high crime. Just a nice safe family oriented town one would aspire to living and raising a family or retiring there.
    4. Tech jobs = This was more so when IBM was here and an area the city should focus on improving and bringing back these types of businesses and jobs. This is the true meaning of live-work-play. Not lets see how many overpriced cookie cutter condo or apts we can fit in this tiny area as if we were some kind of chinese sweatshop.
    5. Exclusivity and wealth = Most associate boca raton as exclusive and wealthy with good reason we are one of the richest cities in S. florida and home to some of the most expensive real estate in the country. Not that it would matter to some but what is more valuable an ounce of spanish treasure coins or the same ounce and kart of a plain gold bar? The answer is the gold coins, and why? Because they are rare and not easily found.

    Boca used to be the Spanish gold treasure coin. However the developers are turning Boca into the same old ounce of gold you can find anywhere.

    Hey Jack instead of all the doom and gloom about town center going under and all of midtown area that you would have us believe is going to look like Grand River and I-96 in Detroit if crocker doesn’t get his way. Imagine if town center went under and instead the space was used to build a state of the art, world class teaching hospital, that would employ 1000’s of high wage jobs in conjunction with FAU expanding and offering medical study programs in partnership with the new hospital (more good paying teaching jobs). Boca regional site could be used for a bigger and better High-school. Once again more good paying jobs we could level Spanish oaks which is a dump anyways and make Boca high one big campus with double or triple the occupancy of the one we currently have. Crocker then could develop his midtown project and build even higher end more expensive units that could be used as housing by all the doctors, nurses, etc. I see a sky bridge in my version that would connect the hospital to the housing. This way on call doctors could traverse from home to work in a couple minutes when emergencies arise. Maybe some high speed conveyor walkways to help speed them along. Lord knows we have enough elderly down here to support such a structure. Imagine the draw not only for the high paying jobs but for the wealthy older population that wants to enjoy florida’s climate but also worry about easy and fast access to world class health care if they should need it. Point is, just because one person doesn’t get his way will equal the total demise of the area. If developers truly wanted to build “great things” to improve the quality of life for the community these would be the kind of projects they would purpose. Not more low wage retail crap with a bunch of apartments crammed into it with prices so high the average retail worker could never afford it unless they pack in 2-3 per bedroom. You want to improve Boca make it great? Awesome I’m all for it. Lets do it but not with a bunch of crappy, overpriced apartments and more dying retail.

  20. The lag on the posts can cause a timing issue, I see. However it appears that we are on the same page or at least the same chapter, so no worries. Hopefully my posts where not taken as argumentative but as yet another way of looking and thinking about the many challenges we face and possible solutions. I wasn’t trying to win anything and only wanted to shed some additional light on some of the topics that get overlooked by some or covered up by others. Good luck and best wishes for all and our city.

  21. The first thing that comes to mind for me when thinking of the increase of population in this proposed area is where these children will go to school. The zoning I believe would send these kids to Verde Elementary, which is already EXTREMELY stuffed. Their computer lab and their music room has been turned into class rooms (granted they are having a new school built in the coming years, but still). The quality of our children’s education and school experience is being affected. Stuffing more and more students in schools that already are filled should not be happening!

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