Game, Set and Match for Downtown Developers

5

MIZNER 200:  THE STAKES ARE AS HIGH AS THE CONCRETE

Next week, Boca’s Community Appearance Board will be asked to approve the mammoth Mizner 200 project in Boca’s already overcrowded Downtown.  It will be the first in a series of reviews in an approval process for what could be the final chapter in the Battle for Boca.

If the CAB (followed by the Planning and Zoning Board, the Community Redevelopment Agency, and the City Council) approve the Monster on Mizner, it will be game, set and match for Downtown developers.  If they can build a single building this massive (three football fields long, 100-feet high, 30% larger than anything we have seen to date) in our new concrete canyon downtown, they can build anything.

Boca’s Community Appearance Board primary responsibility is contained in its name:  Appearance Board.  It is responsible for ensuring that development projects adhere to both the metric and style requirements of Boca’s building codes.  On that basis, here are four fundamental reasons why the Community Appearance Board should reject 200 Mizner as now proposed:

  1. Downtown Boca’s basic building code, Ordinance 4035, requires that “each building recognizes the scale and character or adjacent buildings.” Mizner 200 is both out of scale and out of character with the buildings in its neighborhood.
  2. Boca’s downtown architectural guidelines were inspired by the architecture of Addison Mizner, e.g. the Cloister at the Boca Raton Hotel and Resort. Mizner 200 looks nothing like a “Mizneresque” building.  It should be called Mizner 0.
  3. The design solution for large parcels in the Downtown has always been multiple buildings with meaningful separations. Based on numerous examples, the eight-acre Mizner on the Green parcel should be redeveloped into at least three buildings, with view and vista corridors between them.  Mizner 200 is one building, almost 1000 feet long.
  4. Mizner 200 contains no street level views, as required by Boca’s Architectural Design Guidelines. Mizner 200, as presently designed, is an unforgiving 100-foot façade, almost 1000 feet long along Mizner Boulevard and 400 feet deep.  It blocks all views and vistas from the properties west of Mizner Boulevard to the east and from the golf course west to the Downtown.  It will cast a giant shadow over the entire 4th hole of the Resort Golf Course—from tee to green.  Boca’s Architectural Design Guidelines require that views and vistas be shared.  Mizner 200 is a hog.

This is what Boca’s Community Appearance Board will be asked to approve on May 16th at 6:30 pm at the Community Center Annex, 260 Crawford Boulevard.  The Annex is located in the Boca City Hall complex off Palmetto Park Road in Downtown Boca.  If you care about Boca’s future, show up and make your opposition to Mizner 200 evident.

The stakes could not be higher.

The Board of Directors
BocaBeautiful.org

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John, President of BocaBeautiful.org is a 13-year Boca resident and lives in Downtown Boca. He is also Chairman and CEO of Political Solutions International LLC, a consulting firm which advises a wide range of clients on government relations organization, competence, issue management and strategy. Prior to his chairing Political Solutions International, Mr. Gore served from 1996-2002 as Group Vice President, Government and Public Affairs, for the British Petroleum Company in London. In that capacity Mr. Gore was responsible for BP’s government and public affairs activities in over 70 countries. He is a 1970 graduate of Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service and attended Georgetown University Law School. He is married to the former Antonia Stepovich of Fairbanks, Alaska. His outside interests include golf, creative writing, and the arts.

5 COMMENTS

  1. Publisher’s Comment: An invitation has been extended to the Mizner 200 team for a response to this and previous articles voicing the collective concerns of the surrounding downtown community. To date, BocaWatch has received no response to this invitation. BocaWatch continues to reach out to the Mizner 200 team for a submittal capturing the merits of the project and demonstrating how the project meets the ‘Mizneresque’ standard contained within the controlling ordinance. Al Zucaro

  2. NOT IN MY BACK YARD!

    You folks and your fellow Boca Watch neighbors at Townsend Place should be ashamed of your continuing mean-spirited, NIMBY attack on the proposed Mizner 200 project next door! The hyperbole in your most recent rant, demonstrates an ignorance of the nature. and misinterprets the impact, of this proposal on our East Boca Raton community. Have you even reviewed the latest plans submitted to our city by the owner and its architects? I have – thoroughly – and call to your attention the following FACTS IN SUPORT OF MIZNER 200.

    1. There are already 246 run down rental townhouse units on this site, amidst a sea of surface parking at Mizner on the Green. These would be all be demolished to build Elad’s proposed condominium, We should anticipate far less turnover and more enhancement by vested owners than by current, more transient, renters. With 384 units proposed (substantially reduced from the over 500 original sought) the Mizner 200 proposal now involves an INCREASE OF ONLY 138 UNITS on this 8.78 acre site. As compared with a total of 1,872 total units, Mizner 200 represents only a modest 7.4% increase over the total of 1,872 units existing or under construction at Townsend Place and the other 7 buildings highlighted below. Hardly a cause of traffic gridlock in East Boca!

    2. The Mizner 200 site is now proposed to be developed at the same height and density as its immediate neighbor, your Townsend Place, and in accordance with current zoning.(The existing density of Townsend Place is 43.1 units per acre (195 units on 4.531 acres) and the proposed Density at Mizner 200 is 43.8 units per acre (384 units on 8.765 acres.)

    3. Believe it or not, the Mizner 200 project is proposed at CONSIDERABLY LOWER DENSITY THAN EVERY MAJOR RESIDENTIAL PROJECT WITHIN A FEW BLOCKS’ RADIUS. As compared with the Mizner 200 proposal, the site densities are approximately:

    • 12.1% higher at 200 East Palmetto @ 49.1/acre (115 units on 2.342 ac.)
    • 49.1% higher at Palmetto Promenade @ 65.3/acre (378 units on 5.792 ac.)
    • 81.4% higher at Palmetto Place @ 81.4/acre (255 units on 3.21 ac.)
    • 87.6% higher at Royal Palm Place @ 82.2/acre (185 units on est. 2.25 ac.).
    • 103.7% higher at The Mark @ 89.2/acre (208 units on 2.33 ac.)
    • 205.0% higher at Tower 155 @ 92.2 units/acre (under const., approx. 170 units on est. 1.27 ac.)
    • 307.5% higher at 100 Via Mizner @ 178.5/acre (366 units on 2.05 ac.)

    4. Mizner 200, having initally been proposed to include two towers of up to 30 floors, has now been reduced in height so as to conform IN EVERY RESPECT to the hight limits applicable to this site. At nine stories, it is no higher than any of the eight recent, comparable, residential structures that I have cited.

    5. The Mizner 200 site plan proposes to provide 220 mature trees and palms, 60 accent trees and thousands of shrubs and ground cover, much replacing extensive existing areas of impervious paving at Mizner on the Green. At its common property line with Townsend Place to the south, this would provide a substantially denser vegetative screen on the Mizner 200 side of the property line than your Townsend Place has on its side. The Mizner 200 site plan also provides an area in excess of the 153,770 square feet (3.53 acres) required under current zoning to be “open space,” In addition, it provides another 30,648 square feet of covered open space.

    6. The Mizner 200 site plan also affords enhanced setbacks, on average, from the Boca Raton Resort golf course along the project’s east side, and along SE Mizner Blvd. at the project’s west side. These FAR EXCEED the setbacks currently existing at Mizner on the Green or Townsend Place. Regarding the projected approximately 950 foot width of Mizner 200, the owner has now divided the structure into three separate and distinct towers above the second floor, providing some degree of vistas through the site. These, and increased the average setback from Townsend Place’s Building “A,” are all responsive to concerns of the surrounding community.

    7. The building profiles, materials details, colors and landscaping have been brought into substantial compliance with Ordinance 4035. Especially more so (in my opinion as an architect) than the recent Mark, Palmetto Promenade and 100 Via Mizner precedents. Moreover, the articulation and massing of all four elevations proposed at Mizner 200, both horizontally and vertically, respond to both Ordinance 4035 and the community’s expressed desires for this project. This directly contradicts your moniker of an “unforgiving 1,000 foot facade.” The latest proposal does, indeed, have the “multiple separations,” that you seek, effectively meeting your stated goal of “at least three buildings.” Mizner 200 as proposed will be no less “Mizner-esque” than its recent counterparts in the immediate area. (Permit me my only recommendation for the owner’s architects: that consideration be given to substituting the local ubiquitous red barrel roofing in place of concrete tiles simulating slate.)

    8. Contraty to your assertions, this project, as proposed, will cast no more and no less a shadow on hole #4 of the Resort golf course than Townsend Place currently does on the 5th or 100 Via Mizner does on the 7th.. Mizner 200 will in no way “block the views and vistas…from the golf course west to the downtown.” inasmuch as Mizner on the Green already does this, As a frequent golfer there myself, I can’t imagine anyone preferring to view the existing ill-maintained Mizner on the Green over the luxury residences being proposed at Mizner 200. Put in golfers’ terms, Mizner 200 will more greatly challenge a shanked ball on #4 than we currently have on #5 or #7.

    9. Beyond the realm of the immediate community, looking at our City and County at large, Mizner 200 will represent a veritable windfall in tax revenue. I would estimate that current municipal tax revenues from the 246 existing units at Mizner on the Green might be around $800,000 annually. By contrast, this could be expected to increase by perhaps an additional $6 million per year once Mizner 200 is built – this from a demographic that is a relative bargain in terms of demand for costly public personnel, infrastructure, and other municipal services. In summary, even the most cursory examination of the current plans for this project at City Hall will reveal that this building is far from the “pig” that you have labeled it. Considering all the qualities of the current Mizner 200 proposal, I further respectfully disagree with your hyperbolic description of this project as, a “monster,” “massive,” “out of scale and out of character.” Contrary to your assertion, local developers cannot build “anything.” Only what they are permitted under current zoning and local ordinance, as is the present case.

    Your recent, widely circulated, message to the community (many friends have brought it to my attention) is simply mean-spirited NIMBY-ism. It demonstrates absolutely no qualified, objective analysis of the current Mizner 200 proposal, whose sponsor has every bit as much right to develop his property to its potential as any other land owner in Palm Beach County. I hope you will consider these facts as your group prepares its statements before the Community Appearance Board.

    Having thoroughly reviewed this proposal, I fully endorse its approval by our local authorities.

    Respectfully,
    John G. Colby,
    Member, American Institute of Architects, Emeritus.
    Boca Raton, FL

    PS By way of an editorial comment, should this project ultimately be approved for the 384 dwelling units under consideration, I would personally have much preferred that this same overall density be accommodated in two or three taller buildings at least twice the 9-story height therein, with corresponding reduction of footprint. This could afford substantially more building setbacks on all sides, more landscaped buffering and considerably more east-west “transparency.” Except for the number of units proposed, this is precisely the concept advanced in the original Daniel Liebskind proposal for this site. Instead, our Ordinance 4035 nurtures the drabness that we call “Mizner-esque” architecture. But that’s another issue

  3. Again, clearly there are differences of opinion from qualified architects (as seen above), not just emotional knee jerk reactions to some who suggest Mizner 200 does not meet 4035 ordinance requirements and don’t wish to see it built (which is not to say, individual feelings should not be heard, they should). Everybody has the right to speak and air their thoughts. The issue is everybody is neither right nor wrong. So as I have said before, the Developer has the right to build a project which meets the standards set by the CRA. The developer should also listen to what people are saying and feeling. Perhaps there is a potential compromise to be met. I hope so, because the existing Mizner on the Green is an eyesore!
    What I want to see is The World Reknowned City of Boca Raton find a solution with a clear and open mind…Finally, trust that the CAB will treat this project properly…

    • the 8 million sq feet is the same as adding 5+ boca raton town center malls in a one mile area. The 3 new projects will be like building 2 new malls- the mandarin hotel, boca raton camino square and mizner 200

  4. it will be a massive monster that is over 1,027,000 sq ft. Similar in size to the boca mall. The current owner is a apartment flipper and been wanting to get out of the property for years and could not. They think this is the way to get out of it. They should sell it and get an owner like gables that is in the rental business Its not like we are in another bubble are we?

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