Burgers, buildings and more coming to Boca Raton soon

Boca Raton is nearly out of land, so developers are building on small parcels, or redoing existing properties, to make way for new homes and shops.

One shopping center under construction now is Park Place by Schmier & Feurring Properties on Military Trail, south of Clint Moore Road and Office Depot’s world headquarters.

In addition to a Fresh Market grocery store, Park Place will host a cornucopia of restaurants, too.

So far they include a new location of the Habit Burger chain, another Chipotle location and a new player in the South Florida dining market, Burton’s Grill, a modern American concept from Boston.

Also coming: a new location for Raw Juice, the growing Boca Raton-based fresh juice and vegan food eatery, and Phenomenon, a nitrogen-based ice cream concept. Restaurateur Burt Rapoport also plans Rappy’s Deli, which is billed as a modern spin on the classic Jewish deli.

Shops also are planned for the 64,000-square-foot center, which will open in 2016 and be built in an elegant, contemporary design “with unbelievable areas and energy for customers,” said Ross Feurring, the project’s director of leasing.

“There’s no new development in Boca Raton, so if you want to get in this market, this is one of the only opportunities,” Feurring said.

He’s right. Boca Raton has its longstanding clusters of commerce, such as the Town Center mall in the city’s center, and the mixed-use Mizner Park downtown.

But increasingly, developers are snapping up smaller pieces of land, or redoing existing buildings, to make way for new stores, condos or apartments.

“Boca Raton is developed to a large extent, and now it’s ripe for redevelopment and infill,” said Nader Salour, of Cypress Realty, based in Jupiter.

The 64,000-square-foot Park Place, for instance, sits on just 16 acres. To its south is a vacant 10-acre parcel, now under construction for 298 apartments by Altman Development Corp.

Meanwhile, Salour is working on a mixed-use project also planned for Military Trail near the mall. He and partners own a 10-acre site. On it sits an old bowling alley, now doing business as Strikes@Boca bowling alley, and nearby, a shuttered Scandinavian gym.

Salour is seeking the city’s OK to build 200 apartments and 65,000 square feet of retail space. “It’s a prime location surrounded by very attractive buildings,” including office buildings, Salour said.

Salour said the high-end apartments he plans to build will fill a need for people who now commute into Boca Raton to work because there aren’t enough rental projects in the city.

Several properties around the Town Center mall also are undergoing a renaissance.

Across from Salour’s property sits Boca Center, an office, shopping, dining and hotel complex also slated for a redevelopment.

Developer Tom Crocker last year reacquired this center, which he originally built. Now he plans a massive upgrade. A high-end gym, new restaurants and development along Military Trail (now home to a parking lot) all are in the works. The idea is to turn the Boca Center into a luxury food and entertainment mecca.

Boca Center’s proximity to the Town Center mall, in the heart of the city, makes it prime property for restaurants eager to do business in the city, said Tom Prakas, of Prakas & Co. in Boca Raton. Prakas is handling leasing for the center.

Crocker also plans to create a “restaurant row” along Butts Road, on property he owns next to his Wells Fargo office building, Prakas said.

In addition, Crocker is looking to add a restaurant to another of his Boca Raton office properties: One Town Center, a Class A, 10-story office building that once was home to Tyco’s headquarters. Plans are to create a 5,000-square-foot restaurant downstairs, with patio space outside along Town Center Road.

Boca Raton’s building boom is no surprise to longtime real estate professional Keith O’Donnell, a principal with Avison Young in Boca Raton.

The city’s ranking on Livability’s 100 Best Places to Live means a renewed interest in adding to the city’s offerings of homes, shops and offices. Boca Raton was ranked 59th, based on an analysis of each cities’ amenities, economy, education, health care and other factors.

O’Donnell said activity in the city is divided among the eastern section of the city, where the downtown is seeing the construction of mixed-use projects, apartments and condos; the central portion of the city, around the mall; and the northwest section in and around the Arvida Park of Commerce, traditionally home to headquarters and research companies. A number of mixed-use projects also are planned there, he said.

Some 20 years ago, the thought of residential housing in the city’s largely ghost-townlike downtown was unthinkable. Now, however, several projects are in the works or underway, including Palmetto Promenade’s apartments and shops along Palmetto Park Road.

“Downtown is seeing a vibrancy it hasn’t seen in the residential sector,” O’Donnell said, “which will drive more retail demand.”

Alexandra Clough writes about the economy, real estate and the law.

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