All cities evolve and change; the results can be seen throughout history in great places we’ve all visited around the world. And while change always comes with resistance, it is essential to jump in and be part of shaping that change; true in the many cities that come to mind when visualizing our favorite places. Ask yourself, what makes this place special? What makes it memorable through the many photos taken? What inspires you to choose it as destination for a family vacation, or moreover, a place to put down roots and live? In these places we stroll down memorable walking streets for hours under shaded tree canopies, explore unique merchant’s windows along the way, and stop in for a coffee, or a gelato, and eventually a savory meal. We stumble across amazing outdoor parks, public art, historic monuments and even attend outdoor festivals and community events in bustling urban parks or watch boats along waterfronts. Perhaps you’re thinking of European cities Florence, Barcelona, Paris, or US destinations such as Chicago, Boston, Manhattan. The smaller towns that come to mind may be Charleston or St. Augustine, and….Boca Raton. What do these cities all have in common? Their residents and stakeholders love their cities and want them to be great places to live. Boca Raton, like other great cities, has adopted several iterations of visions and comprehensive plans over the years…milestones have been in 1982, 1992, 2007 and 2010. But just like these other great cities, our city is growing, and with growth comes change. As the year 2020 is fast approaching, we have significant Architecture coming on line, from The Mandarin Oriental, to Tower 155 and Mizner 200, to 327 Royal Palm, the planning of Royal Palm Plaza, and unique dining venues such as the renovated historic site of Luff’s Fish House Restaurant. Equally exciting, our Boca Raton Museum of Art has recently received a bequest of significant sculptures, and our waterfronts are primed and ready to come to life.

Herein lies our opportunity, all stars are in alignment…what legacy do we want to leave? We have the ability as a community to come together and shape the next chapter in our city’s history, our version of a Great City. Recognizing the importance of this, we’ve begun to assemble a community driven effort led by local Visionaries, to guide our city’s future: Enter “Boca Raton’s 2020 Vision; Planning our Future from Coast to Campus”. Between now and the Year 2020 the mission of this collaborative group is to encourage the City in rolling out the next overlay to our Comprehensive Plan, introducing a 21st Century Vision of a flourishing downtown, its Urban Waterfront, network of waterfront parks, and their connection to the greater city. This timely effort starts now with Phase 1, the design of our waterfront parks that are on the drawing boards as we speak, because every successful City and Waterfront Destination starts with a comprehensive City Vision shaped by its community.

Below is the link to the presentation I gave to City Council yesterday following the introduction of this initiative by our Council liaison Andrea O’Rourke. The presentation introduces this effort, and makes a call to action for the next steps in bringing Phase 1, our “Downtown Waterfront” to fruition. Check out the starting list of our local Visionaries, which continues to grow to include a cross section of knowledge and experience to guide this effort, and equally important, the spheres of topics that will be addressed, where all voices in our community are welcome, and essential. Reach out on Facebook: 2020VisionBoca or Gmail to join in by sharing ideas, comments, and to let us know if you would like to be actively involved in this planning. The future is ours to paint, let’s make it our masterpiece, together!

Downtown Waterfront 2020 Vision