Boynton Beach has timetable for final downtown pitch

Feb 21, 2018
Site plan for the incoming Town Square project in Boynton Beach. (Handout: City of Boynton)

Boynton Beach’s 16-acre Town Square redevelopment plan received another nod of approval from city commissioners, but not from all.

Commissioner Mack McCray voted against the project because he doesn’t know how the city will pay for it and Commissioner Joe Casello is still not happy with the location of the new police station at High Ridge Road and Gateway Boulevard, away from the city’s downtown.

Staff plan to host a meeting March 13 and will present the final budget, costs and schedule . The Palm Beach Post previously reported the city has to come up with about $133 million.

Town Square, a private/public partnership, is about four blocks off Boynton Beach Boulevard east of Interstate 95 where the historic high school, library and police station are. It will be transformed into a town center with modern public buildings such as a city hall and fire station, a 40,000-square-foot amphitheater, parks, parking garages and apartments, a hotel and retail space.

Sign up for the Boynton Beach newsletter.

The city will pay $52 million through private equity bonding to be paid off over 25 years, said Colin Groff, an assistant city manager leading the project. The city’s Community Redevelopment Agency will pay the rest — nearly $81 million — over 25 years with the tax revenue it receives from the county.

McCray said he hadn’t heard how the project will be paid for, however.

“I don’t know where we’re going to get the money,” he said Tuesday.

The historic high school is under renovation as a cultural arts and civic center. The Schoolhouse Children’s Museum and Learning Center will remain. Also, a district energy plant will provide cold water for air conditioning through a central chilled water plant.

Resident Herb Suss was disappointed to hear the plan calls for tearing down the library and building a new one with a city hall.

“That’s a disgrace,” he said.

The library has water intrusion problems and it would be costlier to fix the building and put the new city hall on a different piece of property than it would be to tear the library down and build a new one, said Vice Mayor Justin Katz.

The police station will be demolished and a new one built off Town Square next to Fire Station 5, which is also the emergency operations center. The station will be two stories and 53,800 square feet on land the city bought years ago with the intention that a police headquarters would be built there.

“It was probably a great idea back then but boy times have changed,” said Casello, who prefers it be in or near Town Square.

But Interim Police Chief Kelly Harris said there will be no delay in response times because the officers don’t dispatch from the station; they are always in the field.

The private part of the project — to be built by JKM Developers and E2L Real Estate Solutions — calls for a 120-room hotel at Seacrest and Boynton Beach boulevards and about 700 residential units in three buildings. The developer plans to include workforce housing, which in return the city will allow for a height bonus.

The tallest residential building, which will also have ground floor commercial space, is expected to be along Boynton Beach Boulevard at Northeast First Street. It can be a maximum of eight stories at 99 feet.