21st Century cities are changing…there are multiple generations co-existing side by side, and returning to live in the downtown core of the city. This new, diverse demographic wants to live, work and play in the same area with minimal use of a car. They’re looking for a City with a Heart and Soul and gravitate towards “Main Street” with unique shops, specialized services, restaurants, and outdoor cafes on the doorstep of their home and workplace.  While they thrive in this density, they expect shared communal open space, a community “Front Yard” of sorts, to replace the large suburb properties they left behind.  Here, they can walk the dog in the morning or take a jog along the downtown waterfront, grabbing a coffee at the bustling Java pavilion before heading to work.  In the afternoon, they prefer to join  downtown office mates around shaded tables by the water to hash out work, lingering afterwards to enjoy a craft beer and watch the boats as the day ends.  Parents want to walk with children to nearby parks, and residents of all ages enjoy a stroll by the water under the stars, and weekend festivals by the water.  This active urban communal open space is integral to a city-dweller’s life…they want to be social and expect the full experience,  and successful downtown waterfront destinations all over the world are recruiting them to fill vacant residential and commercial buildings in their downtown core.

Boca Raton has the framework to bring the city-dweller’s expectation to life…and it starts with the timely design on the drawing boards right now.   This is a call to action:  to put differences in the past aside, and unite in revitalizing the city we all love;  the responsibility is in our hands….what legacy will we leave?

The following presentation I shared with City Council Tuesday night outlines the process and elements that have proven vital to the success of other great waterfront destinations.  Join me in reaching out to neighbors, the City and Council to urge investment in a comprehensive, 21st century design of our downtown waterfront properties:  the east-end heart along Boca Raton’s own “Main Street” to the Beach.



Downtown Waterfront Plan – Next Steps_07-26-2017

By Margaret Fitzsimons, M. Arch, Assoc. AIA, LEEDap