Mid­town Boca plan on hold for more in­put

Ad­di­tional public meet­ings planned to dis­cuss de­vel­op­ment.

The Palm Beach Post - - IN YOUR COMMUNITY - By Lulu Ra­madan Palm Beach Post Staff Writer lra­madan@pb­post.com Twit­ter: @lu­lu­ra­madan

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.

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