Boca agrees to conceptualize ‘Midtown’ district near Town Center with public input


BOCA RATON — The plan to allow high-rise residential buildings in a 1-square-mile commercial district near Town Center mall in Boca Raton is at a standstill until the city creates a “vision” for the area with public input.

At the tail end of a five-hour discussion late Tuesday, council members agreed to an “area plan” for Midtown, a district along Glades Road just west of Interstate 95 comprised most notably of Town Center and surrounding commercial strips. The steps of an “area plan” haven’t been defined, but the plan will include at least two rounds of input from the public to craft a vision for a district that has been awaiting a renaissance for nearly a decade.

With standing room only at a Boca Raton council meeting, Midtown proved to be as divisive a topic Tuesday as it has been for the past two years. 

Landowners within the district — Crocker Partners, Cypress Realty, Trademark and Simon Property Group, which owns the mall — have lobbied to transform Midtown into a work-live-play hub in central Boca Raton. That involves a large-scale rezoning that would allow high-rise residential buildings with up to 2,500 units in the commercial area.

But the plan’s many opponents say it will add traffic to the heavily-traveled east-west thoroughfare Glades Road, and cause unwanted urban sprawl in Boca’s quiet suburbs.

“I don’t want to live in an urban area … I moved to the suburbs for a reason,” said Kathryn Saurs, who lives in the Timber Creek neighborhood just north Midtown. 

Before the developers can propose a plan for Midtown — which might include fewer than the maximum 2,500 units — they asked that the city change the zoning regulations to offer guidelines. But even a zoning change rubbed neighbors and some council members the wrong way.

“It’s important to have a vision ... We need to go about this the right way,” said Councilwoman Andrea O’Rourke, who suggested the area plan and public input sessions. 

The plan didn’t bode well with the developers, who sparred with City Attorney Diana Frieser about legality of such a requirement. 

“Respectfully, as a government agency, you’re supposed to treat all the people equally,” said Angelo Bianco, a partner at Crocker Partners, the same developer that built Mizner Park in the early 1990s. The city hasn’t required other residential-retail districts — called Planned Mobility Districts — to do area studies.

Frieser said the developers are “not entitled” to a rezoning, and she’s fully prepared to argue that on behalf of the city — something she might have to do, adding that the developers have sent the city letters threatening legal action.

Only one council member rejected the “area plan” — Mayor Susan Haynie.

Haynie did say that the council should “dial back” the 2,500-unit cap.

The plan presented Tuesday would not allow large-scale redevelopment until a Tri-Rail station is built at Glades Road to ease congestion at the nearby Yamato Road station. 

The Glades Road station is expected to alleviate traffic congestion in the area, but neighbors rebuffed that idea too.

“In Boca, public transportation is just not desirable,” said Donna Mincuzzi, who lives in a neighborhood south of Midtown.

More details on the area plan are expected at a city workshop in February.


Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Local

Real-time highlights from town hall on gun control in Sunrise
Real-time highlights from town hall on gun control in Sunrise

11 p.m. UPDATE: The CNN Town Hall closes with a poem written by the late Alex Schacter, read by his father, comparing life to roller coaster ride. That is followed by a song called "Shine," written by students to honor the victims. 10:30 p.m. UPDATE: Stoneman Douglas student Emma Gonzalez asks Dana Loesch of the NRA if it should...
Tennis champ Serena Williams reveals she ‘almost died’ after giving birth to first baby
Tennis champ Serena Williams reveals she ‘almost died’ after giving birth to first baby

Tennis champion Serena Williams revealed she “almost died after giving birth” to her first child, daughter Olympia, last fall, according to a column by Williams on CNN.com.  >> Read more trending news  Williams had a relatively easy birth Sept. 1, 2017, delivering her daughter by C-section, but two hours later, she was in...
How Gardens students’ satellite launch is raising support for NASA
How Gardens students’ satellite launch is raising support for NASA

NASA will launch a tiny satellite designed by Palm Beach Gardens middle school students to study whether bacteria can survive in melting ice while in orbit. RELATED: Here’s why NASA is sending a Gardens school’s satellite into space WeissSat-1 satellite likely will launch from Cape Canaveral or an Air Force base in California by the end...
Students hope to be heard at Town Hall on Douglas shooting
Students hope to be heard at Town Hall on Douglas shooting

SUNRISE — Horace Hamm came to the CNN Town Hall meeting Wednesday night hoping to hear reasons no parent will ever have to go through what he endured when the shooting started at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High in Parkland. Hamm had started to doze off on his cross-country flight a week ago when he looked at his phone to find 12 consecutive texts...
What is Graves’ disease? Wendy Williams opens up about her condition
What is Graves’ disease? Wendy Williams opens up about her condition

Fans of the “Wendy Williams Show” will have to watch re-runs for nearly a month, because the media maven is taking a three-week hiatus to treat her Graves’ disease.  >> Read more trending news  She made the announcement on air Wednesday, revealing that her doctor is requiring her to take a break from work to &ldquo...
More Stories