Midtown Boca plan on hold for more input
Additional public meetings planned to discuss development.
A 1-square-mile commercial district in central Boca Raton that has long awaited a renaissance won’t see significant development until at least July — only after residents have a chance to chime in on future changes.
Midtown Boca Raton, an area along Glades Road west of Interstate 95 composed most notably of Town Center mall and surrounding commercial strips, is slated for revitalization that includes adding apartment towers, restaurants and redesigned shopping centers. But vocal residents who oppose the plan, saying it will inundate the heavily traveled Glades Road and Military Trail with more traffic, called for a “small-area plan” and public input workshops that will delay development.
An “aggressive and ideal” timeline for the area plan, said Brandon Schaad, who runs the city’s development services department, would last until at least July.
The city would hold public input sessions to gather resident feedback in March and April; convene with landowners within the district — Crocker Partners, Cypress Realty, Trademark and Simon Property Group, which owns the mall — also in March and April; analyze the area in May; develop the plan in June; and propose it to the city council in July, Schaad said.
“I’m emphasizing that (the timeline) is aggressive and hopeful,” he said. “I think that everybody wants to get these issues on the table and resolved.”
The large-scale rezoning and redevelopment of Midtown has been in the works since 2012, said Michael Marshall, an attorney who represents a majority of the landowners in the district. The landowners haven’t reviewed the timeline with Marshall, so he declined to comment further.
There will be two public workshops, in which residents will have the chance to comment on how many residential units the area should allow, which roads need traffic relief, pedestrian and bicyclist accommodations and any other issues.
“I’m thrilled we are doing this and I wish we had done this a year ago,” said Councilwoman Andrea O’Rourke, who proposed the small area plan at a meeting last month.
Landowners within the district 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. The rezoning was up for a vote at a January meeting, but rejected in favor of the small-area plan.
The idea behind the rezoning, called a Planned Mobility District, is to alleviate traffic by encouraging alternative transportation, like a shuttle service or bike paths, within a district where people can work and live.
But residents have complained that adding homes to the commercial area would do just the opposite — bring more traffic to congested arteries.
The area plan will outline details, such as the number of residential units allowed, the size of those units, the locations within the district, and urban planning for roads, parking and a local transit system.
The dates for public input sessions haven’t yet been set.