In the few months since the City Council instructed staff to develop a ‘small area plan’ for Midtown, the complexion of the geographic land area in question has changed significantly.
At the time of the Council’s decision, Midtown encompassed 4 landowners with some 300 acres requesting 2,500 residential units and a substantial amount of roadway and utility improvements.
Since that time, the Mall has requested to be removed from the PM district (Midtown). Its request was granted by the Council. Also, Glades Plaza has submitted plans to redevelop its property with only commercial uses; commercial use is allowed in this location as a matter of right under the current code.
With these two properties opting out of the Midtown proposal, only 2 properties remain in play; to wit: Boca Center owned by Crocker Partners consisting of approximately 60 acres and the Bowling Alley/Nippers site owned by Cypress Realty which is approximately 10 acres.
The Midtown proposal now, arguably, has gone from the original 300 acres to approximately 70 acres. If Midtown’s residential proposal is set at 20 units per acre, the current Boca Raton citywide density standard, the need for a ‘small area plan’ theoretically has become much smaller. With this reduced geographic area, Midtown’s requested residential unit count will have gone from the original 2,500 units to a reduced maximum, albeit impractical, unit count of 1,400; to wit: 20 units per acre x 70 acres.
Also, the off-site roadway and utility improvements, arguably, need only be limited to the 70 acre area in question. This posture leads to the not so rhetorical question of does the City Council still need a ‘small area plan’ that is going to take at least the better part of a year to complete; not to mention the cost of such a study and the continuing acrimony within the community?
Crocker Partners has already filed its notice of intent to sue the City and one has to suspect that Cypress Realty, without some regulatory relief, will file its intent shortly as well. The City will be at risk to incur significant legal expenses and should the developers be successful in their lawsuits, the ultimate cost to the tax payers could be in the $100’s of millions.
Does it not make more sense for all concerned that the City Council immediately adopt parts of city staff’s draft regulations allowing these 2 property owners to proceed while leaving resolution of the remaining acreage for another day; for the long term solution acceptable to the residents and beneficial to this entire section of the city?
Long term issues aside, short term practical solutions may be just what is required to break the current impasse….
After all, the current focus on a long term solution has actually resulted in the proverbial posture of ‘paralysis through analysis’. Enough already!!!
Is it not time for a practical workable solution rather than continuing the theoretical academic argument that has halted progress in real time while promising years more of community conflict and legal exposure???
Al Zucaro, Publisher
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