This article, originally published by Al Zucaro on BocaWatch.org, is preserved for historical purposes by Massive Impressions Online Marketing in Boca Raton.
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The developers looking for the rezoning of the Midtown project would present a flowery picture of an interactive community where people stay just within that community and have no real need to travel beyond their borders. They catch the Tri-rail every day to go to work and its one big happy family. They will tell you that having an additional Tri-rail station will entice people in other local communities to use more mass transit. They dwell on all the enticing aspects of what they want to “create” and how surrounding communities will have the capability to take advantage of the many recreational and shopping opportunities.
What they don’t do is focus much on the 2500 dwellings and the thousands of additional people it will bring into our city.
Let me present a different perspective. I know very few people here in my community that have the capability to use Tri-rail for their commute. If you have a job that lends itself to the Tri-rail scenario then you likely use the station at Yamato where you can park. The Midtown station will not have parking unless the riders choose to park in any of the retail spaces set aside. This will likely be a problem and will need to be closely enforced, but it will be difficult. I don’t see a lot of local Boca residents moving from where they are now into these rentals, unless they have the capability to use Tri-rail for their commute.
The prime candidate to move into these 2500 rentals would be workers from mainly Dade, Broward and other cities that work close to the Tri-rail line and want to live here in Boca. The prime demographic for these rentals are those that want to live here to enroll their children into the Boca School System, because we have a great reputation for schools. Other Boca citizens have expressed concern that this rental campus environment with very low square foot per unit, could serve as a mecca for the rehab community. Entire floors or buildings could easily be rented and controlled by local rehab agencies as we have continually seen in communities North of us.
So in essence we are not creating a solution that is best for Boca but a solution that supports the needs and desires of other cities and counties. At what cost to us?
The developers and the workers from Broward and Dade reap the benefits. The city gets the additional tax money, but needs to turn that around and reinvest in schools and other infrastructure issues. Then there’s the traffic. The developer said the new development will have a “calming effect” on the Military trail traffic. So I guess what they are saying are we will have more cars on Military but they will all be going slower. Our traffic jams will crawl at a slower pace?
But hey, what about the shops and new restaurants? That should be a cool thing right? Let me first say that we have cool shops and restaurants at Boca Center now. Even though it is somewhat difficult now to gain access, at least it’s doable. Imagine trying to get in there with five to ten thousand new residents clustered right around those shops and multiple vertical structures eating up the open space. Yet, they tell us about some of the unique businesses they want to put in there like specialty shops and an avenue like Worth Avenue. The fact is, the businesses that survive there will be the businesses that cater to the 2500 rental units. If they want Pizza it will be Pizza, if they want Chick-Filet that’s what they will get. It could end up looking like a food court with an Aldi’s where Joseph’s is now, if that’s what they want. It’s the demographic of the renters that will drive most the retail there, even if the developers started with a different approach.
I don’t know if anyone has seen the Las Ventanas Development in Boynton Beach where the lumber yard used to be. They did mixed use townhouses and shops and last time I looked, after several years since completion, many of the shops are still up for lease. You can bet, if they can get a tattoo shop or scotch tape store in there now, they will, rather than leave them empty.
Mixed use doesn’t always work.
Your ability to get in Midtown Center with a car will likely be difficult and so will parking. If you can get there you might be able to join in with the masses. The Arts and Craft show days will be gone because they intend to eat up the parking lot with vertical rental structures.
This concepts of TOD (Transit Oriented Development) and Planned Mobility can be a good thing if a community plans for it right up front and has a comprehensive plan, but this is not that. It’s an effort to mimic that scenario, but all the right elements are not in place. It’s an afterthought that would never have materialized, except for the fact that there is now some opportunity to develop something there. It’s like the proverbial square peg in the round hole. It does nothing to enhance our communities, our traffic problems, or our quality of life.
I’m all for development if there is benefit in it for many and the first consideration should be the citizens and the surrounding communities, because they are the ones most affected by it. Our community is twice the size of this area and we have just over 300 homes. Why do these developers get special consideration to add such high density when it is not commensurate with the surrounding communities? It’s like, the last one in gets the most consideration to ruin it for the rest. It’s crazy! They’re coming late to the party. We have been living here, working here, paying taxes here, yet our voice is not being heard.
A good example of inappropriate density is the Palmetto Promenade apartment project on East Palmetto Park Road. This was developed over the objections of the local residents and is totally out of character with the surrounding neighborhoods. It contains 389 units, which is a fraction of the number of units proposed for Midtown. Check it out!
The developers continually tout the fact that a few of the local communities have submitted letters of support for the Midtown redevelopment project. While this may be true even for our development Paradise Palms, the letters were submitted early on without a clear indication of the intended scope of this development and without the collective agreement of the residents. After a ground swell of concern and opposition, our development is in the process of submitting a written retraction. Similar situations are evident in some of the other surrounding communities.
The current Midtown project will certainly benefit some, mostly those who currently do not live here and the developers who can enjoy their home on the Intracoastal Waterway insulated from it and rake in the five to seven million dollars in monthly rental charges. The rest of us in the surrounding residential developments will all suffer severely and look back on what we lost.
We need to stand up and indicate that we will not accept the rezoning of the midtown area to residential unless it has strict limitations on the quantity and types of dwellings considered. 2500 rental units are not it.
Midtown Boca Raton is truly – A Solution Looking for a Problem