Nippers and Strikes: LOSE, LOSE, LOSE Part 2

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NIPPERS AND STRIKES

properties located at Commercial Trail and N. Military Trail

For many of us, especially those that have been here for decades, locating Nippers and Strikes needs no navigation system to find this 10-acre parcel of Boca Raton landscape in the middle of what has now become the political battleground, Midtown.

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These properties hold memories for generations of Boca Raton residents; memories of the ‘good old’ days. Today, however, these properties are better described, perhaps, by a phrase like the ‘bad new’ days.

There is little argument that these properties are not in serious disrepair. Serious disrepair is an understatement. In fact, they are in such disrepair that argument can be made that they are ‘blighted’ properties; blighted properties that could serve as the basis for a Community Redevelopment Area (CRA) allowing Boca Raton additional financial means to pay for the infrastructure necessary to improve this geographic area. Properties whose owner should be encourage, perhaps incentivized, to make improvements and remove the ‘blight’(*).

Truth be told, removing the ‘blight’ is exactly what the owner has wanted to do for 8 years now. An owner that is asking for no incentives, no extraordinary requests and no special consideration. Simply an owner ready, willing and able to remove the blighted conditions but in need of one governmental action; the City Council to approve land use regulations allowing this owner to construct a 204-unit residential building with retail commercial on its street level.

The Nippers property used to be one of the most popular gyms in Boca. Now it’s a security hazard. Are people living out of their cars parking there?

But no….the City Council has chosen to tie up improving this blighted area by their refusal to include residential in the Council’s ill-conceived ‘small area plan’ fiction; a fiction that has now spawned at least three lawsuits; two from Crocker Partners and one from CRVII Boca TC, LP, the owner and applicant for the Nippers and Strikes land.

CRVII Boca is part of the Cypress Realty of Florida, LLC group. Cypress Realty is an accomplished real estate development company with successful projects throughout Palm Beach County. Cypress Realty is the developer that took a U-Pick’em strawberry field and turned it into Abacoa, a town within a town in Jupiter, Florida. Cypress Realty also took a blighted piece of property in West Palm Beach and transformed into a serious residential structure in a section of town most groups would not have taken the risk. Enough said…Anyone interested can simply Google ‘Cypress Realty’ and research their successes here in Florida and throughout other areas in the United States.

The man heading up Cypress Realty here in Boca Raton is its Vice President Nader Salour. Full disclosure here…I have known Nader for over twenty-five years now dating back to my days as City Commissioner in West Palm Beach. He is a man of his word and a man with unquestionable integrity and his story, here in Boca Raton, is an incredible story rife with broken promises; shifting political winds and, now, expensive litigation.

Suffice it to say that this story dates back 8 years. 8 years ago, Mr. Salour, a stranger to Boca Raton, identified a parcel of land that he saw potential for. His motivation was profit, no doubt, but his idea was also to improve the location for residents in and around the geographic area; a win- win situation. His story dates back to the days of Anthony Maghess, the City Councilman, who first had the nerve to challenge the ‘old boy’ network here in Boca Raton, but I divert; another story for another day.

What is significant however, is that some of the same decision maker of today where the decision makers of 8 years ago. Instrumental in Mr. Salour’s decision to acquire these blighted properties was his meeting with the City Manager Leif Ahnell and Deputy City Manager George Brown.

Per Mr. Salour, he approached the city administration with a basic question; to wit: Would the administration be in favor of his improving that section of Boca Raton with a 204-unit residential complex?

If yes, he would close on the property and begin the process; if no he would walk away from the deal, no harm no foul. 204-units is exactly what the city code allows for residential development; 20 units per acre on a 10+ acre parcel of land; no incentives, no extraordinary requests, no special considerations.

Amazing…an owner wanting to simply come in and develop to code; improve the neighborhood and exit with everyone better off than before.

The view from the Midtown area to the west of the Nippers and Strikes property. In spite of the profusely planted royal palms the architecture is painfully mismatched and outdated.

But…alas, it was not to be….

The story is best told by Mr. Salour himself.

BocaWatch has obtained a copy of a May 4, 2018 letter sent to Mayor Scott Singer that eloquently presents the shifting sands leading up to CRVII Boca law suit against the city of Boca Raton. This letter is attached in its entirety for you, the reader, to form an opinion on the events; the promises made and broken over the years. No opinion is offered here as to the merits with this lawsuit. Suffice it to say that the only winners in litigation like this are the lawyers, especially the outside lawyers retained by the city in these Midtown litigations.

What is the open question, however, is why has the City Council allowed this circumstance to continue; why have the two attorneys on the city council not sought ways to negotiate settlement of this dispute. For all the same reasons cited in LOSE, LOSE, LOSE – Part One, this legal action was and is avoidable; resolvable.

One final thought before you read the May 4th letter….

Fundamentally Fairness requires that this conflict be resolved.

8 years is long enough for the city administration to have published the land use regulations. The city council should demand regulations; regulations consistent with residential density city wide (20 units per acre).

I challenge the City Council members, especially the two attorneys on the Council to act and act now…negotiate resolution to these ill-advised legal expenses.

Win or lose, Boca Raton, its residents, and the investor/business community are already losers.

It is one thing to be resident friendly but quite another to be resident responsible. Continuing this and other similar lawsuits, however, is clearly Resident Irresponsible…Stop It!!!

Click here to view the letter from Nader Salour, written last year to Boca Raton Mayor Scott Singer, about this property. 

* Editor’s Note: Strikes is still open. Their food there is great and it’s one of the best places in Boca for birthday parties and to have a fun time. Nippers hasn’t closed either. -JP

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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.

22 COMMENTS

  1. Under PM zoning the city allowed 10 units an acre in the former Arvida Park of Commerce. The owners in Midtown wanted more than 10 units per acre, and you are correct in asserting that the city has delayed making a firm decision on the ultimate density they will allow in Midtown. The “cap” of 660 units placed on the Midtown area by the City Council was not site specific. it was area specific. It requested entitlements to an “area”. Instead of proposing a site plan on a specific property the owners chose to simply ask for vested rights as to the area without detailing where, or how concentrated the development would be. They got those rights to build but have never come forward with a site specific plan, instead they refused to come up with a plan and in public meetings insisted they would not come forward with a plan until they got the density they wanted. They chose to take the route to the courthouse and sued. If they comply with the code and submit a building plan they would be entitled to an up or down vote on their PM project, if they indeed have one. Instead, they chose to simply ask for vested rights rather than submit a plan and they sued not because they did not get building rights but because they chose to sue rather than submit a plan.. I see the Town center property owners moving forward with a PM plan and they will get an up or down vote on that plan. The Town Center is behaving like someone a municipality would not want to do business with. I think that the author of this piece has done a complete 180 degree turn from the positions he took before and during the mayoral campaign. My how times change!
    a

    • Sorry Steve…no 180 degree change!!!
      Was it not you and others that criticized me when I stated prior to the election that Midtown required residential and that the City Council should negotiate the outcome not litigate?
      Was it not you that criticized me at a meet a greet where I brought a graphic depicting the suggested massing and density provided to me by Midtown?
      Was I not criticized by the Mayor and Councilmember O’Rourke for talking with Midtown about possible concessions on density to encourage a negotiation?
      Was I not criticized when I raised the question about why the City Council and City Attorney allowed the 150 day period required in the Bert Harris law suit to expire without ever holding a negotiation session to attempt a resolution for the issues?
      Please, do not re-write the history…
      In fact, I was soundly criticized by Mayor Singer when, in the debate(s) he stated that I supported 1,000 units for Midtown and he “voted” for 0 units. There was never a vote but….talk about pandering…talk about a predisposition to not support any reasonable negotiation; not support any residential density…
      And he is a lawyer, he should know better!!!
      You and I have had numerous discussions on this topic. We disagree. I respect your opinion and welcome your comments but disagree we do.
      I notice that, as an attorney, you do not opine on the merits of the lawsuit.
      My position it that win or lose the city has already lost in reputation and public benefit.
      My position is that a $140 million dollar lawsuit is too high a risk proposition; a risk proposition that can and should be avoided.
      Planned Mobility requires residential; the amount is a matter of degree not substance. You of all people know this.
      After all you were on the P&Z Board when Planned Mobility was instituted.
      The ‘small area plan’ concept is a fiction…and… to have City Staff take well over a year to produce virtually nothing that moves the fiction forward is reckless behavior by the City Council.
      My sources tell me that there are two votes on the Council to negotiate a solution. I am also told that the resistance to negotiation falls at the feet of Mayor Singer.
      If the Mayor, thinking like a lawyer and not a politician pandering to the sentiment, would acknowledge that litigation is not in the residents’ best interest, the log jam could be broken; settlement with some level of residential is within reach.
      A litigation lose will cost each and every resident in Boca Raton thousands of dollars in damages.
      Even if settled, the residents are funding a legal strategy that needs a serious course correction.
      I trust you would agree….Litigation only benefits the attorneys.
      The resident loses; the landowner loses; and the City loses.
      As suggested in this article’s title…LOSE, LOSE, LOSE!!!
      Resident Friendly is one thing; Resident Irresponsible another.
      Resolve this matter now!!!
      Al Zucaro, Publisher

  2. I am trying to start a much needed dialog here, which seems to inspire the author to make door slamming rebuttals rathger than enourage enlightened dialog. My comment is neither a nimby comment nor a pro development comment. It is an appeal to a reasoned, deliberate approach to redevelopment If all we are debating is how many residential units can be built in Midtown, we will never accomplish the goal of minimizing traffic impacts from the increases in density allowed by increase in housing units. The stated goal of PM zoning is to reduce the amount of auto trips and shorten the length and duration of those trips. That is best accomplished by an infrastructure plan, not a blanket upzoning without infrastructure planning. So I will ask Mr Zucaro, to whom I have given much time to both before and during the campaign to discuss a viable path for Midtown to proceed- what infrastructure improvements do you see forthcoming in Midtown without a plan being proposed before they property owners get the kind of density you are advocating? I stated then and I repeat here that there should be a revised street plan, sidewalk and bike path initiatives that internally connect the new residential units to other uses, and “Off street” walkways and progressive crosswalk initiatives to improve public safety and encourage walkability. I advocated for wider bike paths and off street bike paths Clearly, the Midtown owners are “angling” for development rights without any or minimal infrastructure improvement requirements. When you wrote during your campaign that Boca had given the Midtown property owners a “massive giveaway” with the zoning change, were you sincere then or did you just have a sudden change of heart? Let’s assume your change of heart right then, that it was a massive giveaway to the Midtown property developers. I think you stated they were receiving a billion dollar giveaway, if i am not mistaken.What do you suggest they be required to do to justify such largesse? What do you think the area needs for this new vision to unfold in the public interest and not just the investors? How do we achieve any of these things by just giving the property owners development rights without channeling a vision which the beneficiaries of the “massive giveaway ” being asked to contribute towards? I only ask out of a sense of fairness to the citizens. The public should not be forced to deal with the impacts of the increased density with no say so or controls being put into place to channel the best development possible. The impact of Midtown on schools, roads, traffic, safety, city services of such a development require the type of planning that is currently missing in the equation. Advocating giving increased building rights to the property owners without a vision, without a channeled approach, is not “planning”. It is what you once referred to as a “massive giveaway to the developers”.

  3. Steve,
    Thanks for engaging in the dialog we’ve initiated. To make your points more understandable for our readers please take advantage of the ability to create paragraphs. You don’t need to clump all your points into one unbroken stream of text.

    Some people have very creative solutions:
    Kolbe talked about a pedestrian walkway that traffic goes over or under and drew pictures.
    Schneider has pretty cool diagrams of how we could create feeder roads parallel to 95 to draw Military traffic away.
    I’ve written about the key bike paths that are obviously needed, but obviously ignored at ever iteration: the path behind Boca Bath & Tennis for Lynn/Millpond to connect to Midtown, making a Glades underpass like at Yamato, making a bridge over the canal junction west and south of Tyco. All these things are so obvious. But so obviously omitted.

    The Small Area Plan refers to the scope of vision, not the size of the area. Talking about wider sidewalks absent the obvious remedies the area could benefit from is comical.

  4. To Jason and Al:

    Your methods of encouraging dialogue on this subject will not encourage or facilitate an open dialog. I think the community isn’t going to remain fond of a community forum that treats commentators with disrespect. I asked respectful pointed questions and I get Pelished by snarky retorts. I have a nearly decade long public record of comments on the zoning in question which I will not rehash here. I think it is important to note that Boca Watch has publicly supported the small area plan in the past and now is attacking it. I have in my notes Mr Zucaro’s public support for the small area plan in a city council workshop meeting held on July 24, 2017. which he now opposes. My question is why? It’s not a public attack on anyone, it’s a question we should have answered. That begs another question. Your poisiton also seems to be quite different now, as well.

    • I changed my opinion about it. Al is free to change his mind one way and then change it back again.

      But you keep asserting he is changing his stance. I don’t see that being the case. I don’t have access to your private notes that indicate otherwise, but even if they do they don’t support the claim you are making that what he’s said here has changed. Big deal if it did – but I can’t see myself where it did.

      Here’s a general reason why people’s opinions change: they gain more information. I was misled about Midtwon based on faux outrage, the notion that it had been “hidden”, and based my initial opinions about it on that misinformation. I may have written ten to twenty pages about it now but I won’t assert that I am “right” about it. The facts are the facts – my opinion is just an opinion.

      The Small Area Plan seemed like a great idea when it was first announced, a more reasonable approach than simply granting the rezoning. But since it hasn’t crystallized much. It’s got zero substance – no substantial changes – no substantial vision. Look at the City’s website about it. Having high hopes for it in its infancy and being disappointed by it in hindsight is the reality.

      Mr. Zucaro’s “position” on it is entirely irrelevant to the facts. He’s not running for anything, so there’s no requirement for a “position”. He’s free to take either side of the debate and argue the merits, as am I, as are you.

      Why not discuss the facts of the issue? If there’s a better, more open forum for discussion of this issue please invite me.

  5. It is not whether Al or Steve or Jason or any resident engage in this discussion. It is for the City Council to engage with the landowners about ‘reasonable’ solution. Litigation is not the path to dialogue. Negotiation is. What a wasted opportunity to have let the 150 day cooling off period to have expired without ‘any’ dialogue by the litigants. That is my argument. I am not arguing density. I am arguing that the City Council is not acting in the best interest of the resident to prolong litigation on the inevitable. Residential is a necessary and anticipated component to PMD. Even your response suggests the same….The Council should step outside the long, arduous and expensive legal posture of litigation and creatively negotiate solution with the landowners. Leadership requires action. It is the Mayor’s role to take action. Only then can a meaningful dialogue be attained. AZ

  6. Al
    I think you should explain your change of position You publicly advocated for the small area plan You publicly opposed Midtown.Then you switched The question remains why? I cited the meeting date where you supported the small area plan. That meeting was In 2017. Whether anyone agrees with you or not is really not the issue. You were against Midtown then,so why the change? Boca Watch readers should have the benefit of an honest explanation. You are now opposing the idea of a small area plan which you openly lobbied for in 2017.. Boca Watch is back. Or is it back in name only? Facts matter. Please don’t try to say it is based on some 150 day time limit because you. Have established the 150 day Bert Harris act time period expired years before your open and public support of the small area plan. You need to acknowledge you opposed Midtown as well and publicly lobbied for the small area plan. In 2017. You have yet to either admit that one position was a mistake or explain the flip flop.

  7. I proposed a CRA 2 years ago because the area requires commitments from the county and SFRTA to become something all can love. I remain convinced that CRA is the solution for all interests.

  8. Sounds like nothing will get resolved here in this forum but nice idea. Yeah, Strikes and Nippers are outdated but that isn’t really the issue.

    Does Boca Raton have to build housing and shopping in every vacant spot in the city? Boca is getting so overdeveloped that it will be impossible to drive along Military Trail to go to work off Yamato unless you want to waste an hour getting there. Ugly townhomes on Spanish River and Military Trail, $500K, who is affording these? And, what is going in just to the south of the school on the east side of Military? And, Federal Hwy, you could write a whole article on that road alone.

    I realize that everyone wants to move here but we are recreating the same gridlock that exists in northern cities without real public transportation. No wonder natives of south Florida are moving out.

    PS Full disclosure, I do not live in the Boca city limits but I live near Boca and have to put up with their bad decisions on a daily basis. I can’t entirely blame Boca Raton because Palm Beach County is just as bad.

  9. I have been coaching a Palm Beach County Special Olympics bowling team every Monday evening at Strikes for the past 9 years, with the threat of closure hanging over our heads for the last 8. There are no alternatives in Boca Raton for our team or the many other teams that provide exercise and a social outlet to adults and children with challenges who practice there. Participation on this team has changed the lives of many of our athletes who have found friendships and identity as a team member! Most often this bowling alley is filled with community leagues, local families, high school and college students enjoying some physical activity and friendly social interaction! With each passing year the facility deteriorates a bit more… why invest in it with the threat of closure? Why can’t the needs of our community REALLY be considered in the planning of this parcel of land and include a new bowling alley? We have several beautiful parks that include baseball and soccer fields, but this is the only game in town for bowling! Please consider the importance to the special needs, challenged population and elderly in our community who find vital social connections and exercise at this bowling alley!

  10. Talk about a 180 degree about-face. Was it not Boca Watch who fed the illustrious Andrea O’Rourke to push for the “small area plan” in the first place, essentially torpedoing any future development with these acclaimed developers? As if residents needed further proof O’Rourke doesn’t have a single original thought blowing between those two ears. Totally unqualified to serve. Wait for the day when Boca has to shell out $137 million to Crocker. Will she, and Boca Watch be cutting the first check? Curious. Asking for a friend.

  11. As an observer of the myriad positions taken by politicians in Boca Raton since I began my residency in 1978, I can only express the frustrations that some of us feel when confronted with “conclusions” from these personalities.

    After attending numerous meetings at the library for both the Tri-Rail station addition at 19th and Military and the Midtown “improvements” workshop, the majority of residents were clearly not in favor of increased density along the Military Trail corridor.

    If the developers are so interested in the welfare of our city, perhaps they should look around our downtown high-rise, high-density building from the perspective of keeping our identity and not just raping us for profit. If we do not increase all of our density, we do not require additional services – so the idea of increased taxes from that density being needed gets thrown out as well.

    I agree that it is unfortunate that the City of Boca Raton ends up in court. I agree that it is unfortunate that developers are not required to submit building plans within the existing codes for the space they have acquired. I agree that it is unfortunate that we only hear arguments, not conclusions, nor answers to our various issues and problems.

    I do not agree that we should simply give up and settle by giving in to demands that should never have occurred in the first place to avoid legal battles. I would like to see some “common sense” applied to all of the issues.

  12. This forum is funny. Good comments. Nobody changing opinions here. I’ve been a resident since 1992 and life in Boca has gotten much worse. Traffic is absolutely horrendous. Over development. And yet we want to smash more residential units ionto an area that is close to the worst traffic in Boca. Adding bike paths and sidewalks and public transportation? What joke. People in Boca don’t walk anywhere. When is the last time you walked to Publix or hair salon. It’s 95 degrees and humid. People in Boca also don’t use public transportation. BMW Mercedez Lexus don’t make buses and people in Boca wouldn’t get in a public transit anyway. I am seriously considering moving out of this city due to the frustration and self-serving incompetence of the city council and anyone tied to development of the area. It’s just greed and vanity.

  13. The publisher of this site (Mr Zucaro)forcefully argues for immediate resolution and approval of Midtown and argues that the City should settle with the developers. When I asked him to explain his change of opinion he denies he ever had such an opinion. Instead he says he never had such an opinion and resorts to adversarial argumentation and attacks.. The fact is Mr Zucaro wrote an editorial in Boca Watch on January 25, 2018, headlines “Midtown Boca Postponed, A victory for the Residents” In that article he praises Councilwoman O’Rourke for asking that the matter be postponed. “kudos” he says.Now he attacks her and claims he opposed the delay. He demands immediate approval. Listen up. This was a community forum that was resident friendly. Mr Pelish admitted today he had changed his position on Midtown. He now supports it. Mr Zucaro needs to come clean on his record. Journalistic Integrity is on hold. Al- you were against it before you were for it. Don’t be John Kerry. Admit it. Move on. Your readers deserve a forum they can trust.

    • Steve, Steve, Steve,
      Again you’ve gotten things mixed up. You interpreted what I was saying about my change in position on the Small Area Plan as a change in position on Midtown. I’m sorry that confused you. I should have been more clear.
      I dont know if you read this article I wrote a couple months ago about how I was confused about the 180 the City did on the necessity for residential in Midtown?
      https://www.4boca.com/midtown-zero-area-plan-revealed-no-new-residential-zoning/
      Anyone who was at the big workshop meeting at the Spanish River Library will remember that the facilitators at the tables FORBID us from having concepts for Midtown that omitted thousands of new residential units. I was upset at that. I didnt want to plan new residential units in. That wasnt my wish or vision. I was upset that I was being forced to plan for residential as if it was a done deal. Then a few months later we heard the Citys position changed to zero. That felt weird at a minimum. If someone asks me what my vision is for the area honestly, it’s to keep the stores and stuff I like. But its not my property, not my investment, not my money tied up in it, so my opinion, my position is worth a cup of coffee at best.
      The Small Area Plan was a great idea when it seemed like a plan we could dodge a bullet with. It seems like a risky plan now as if it’s a plan for us to all catch that costly bullet between our collective teeth.

    • Again, you misrepresent…Yes, I supported a delay in order for City Staff to engage in developing a plan. Now, a year and three months later, there still is no plan. The ‘small area plan’ fiction has not resulted in resolution. It simply has been an excuse for delay and has resulted now in three expensive and unnecessary lawsuits. That said, there is nothing else to add to this argument. The City Council is acting irresponsibly. Settle this matter and move on. Residential is a component part of planned mobility…Period. The dialogue we are having here is what the Mayor should be engaged in with the landowners. Until the Council reconciles to the fact that some degree of residential is a necessary component , our debate is just a waste of time. AZ

  14. I think your readership has/had a right to know that you have changed your position on Midtown. That’s all I ever brought up. I got denials, deflections and evasiveness, along with name calling but no answers.I think the community has a right to know when the editor of Boca Watch attacks the mayor and city council members they should know that those people he now attacks did exactly what the editor of Boca Watch asked them to do. That’s all I have done is ask for honest journalism. For two days you denied, prevaricated and attacked me for asking these questions. Now, I think you should you should reprint your article of January 25, 2018 and let your readers judge for themselves who is telling the truth. If you don’t, then I ask your readers to look in Boca watch archives and read this article .and decide for themselves. Calling your readers dishonest? For asking for honest disclosure? Come on, Man! Also, are you taking donations now from Midtown developers? inquiring minds want to know.

    • The assertion that your behavior represents all of our readers is a bit askew. We don’t “print” things. This is the Internet. Here’s how it works: Link to the article like this:
      https://bocawatch.org/midtown-bocaa-victory-for-the-residents/
      This a good article. It represented how a lot of us felt at the time. We had hopes for reasonableness. The Small Area Plan could still morph with changing public sentiment and legal steps forward. It did a 180 already when it went from necessarily including residential to none at all. It can 180 back again. A path forward thats “not so bad” for everyone exists. If the Small Area Plan moves more towards that than away from it in the future you’ll see people who aren’t too fond of it now supporting it.

      That’s the way things work man, people are only slightly more complex than the Internet and links, but neither are unreasonable if there’s honest dialog.

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