Would you pay $7.5M for an asset and let it deteriorate for six years? Of course not, but that’s exactly what has happened to an asset owned by the citizens of Boca Raton. Not only has the Wildflower Property sat idle for over six years, but is an eyesore to those boating on the Intracoastal or traveling between the downtown and the beach. A valuable asset has been allowed to become a festering liability with all the charm of an EPA Superfund site.
It’s time to halt the mistakes of the past and make this a productive asset that creates a waterfront experience for all citizens.
The Wildflower property was purchased by the City of Boca Raton in December, 2009 for $7.5M. In December, 2015 the City Staff provided an estimate of $313,000 to open the Wildflower property as an active public waterfront park. To put this in perspective, by spending only 3.8% of the purchase price of the property in 2009, the Wildflower property could have been opened as a park. The citizens could have enjoyed this green space at the site for the last six years and a downtown blight welcoming the homeless could have been transformed into a ‘urban green space’ active and visual delight. So an opportunity was missed in 2009 to start creating a return on the citizens’ investment.
For additional background on the Wildflower situation, visit www.bocawatch.org and search for Wildflower articles.
Fast forward to 2015 and the same mistake was repeated. In June, 2015 an appraisal valued the Wildflower property at $9.8M. By spending 3.2% of this appraised value today the asset could be converted into a green space for citizens to start enjoying. In December, 2015 the City Council was presented with this information, but again decided not to act and let the asset remain an unproductive, ugly eyesore. This type of non-action is often referred to as “kicking the can down the road.”
So looking to future of the Wildflower property, we recommend the following action plan:
- Adopt an ordinance that specifies that the site is to be used for public recreation. A group of motivated citizens has already started this activity by soliciting signatures on an initiative petition. See link below
- Reserve a large number of parking spaces in the parking garage across from the park for use by people attending the park.
- Hold a citizen charrette on the amenities to be included in Wildflower Park.
- Open Wildflower Park for public enjoyment. The amenities in the park should be as specified in the charrette results.
- Continue the process of acquiring the adjacent properties to the West and North to make a viable project with the scope of the three properties combined. A priority of the design will be solving the NE 5th Avenue and East Palmetto Park Road intersection problem. This will most likely take years, but with the plan of opening the park in the near future, the citizens’ will immediately start seeing a return on their investment.
- Hold another citizen charrette on the amenities to be included in the three combined properties.
- Develop the three combined properties with the amenities specified in this charrette.
The time to stop kicking the can down the road has long passed for the Wildflower site.