BocaWatch’s Guest Commentary: Michael Liss, Founder of Downtown Business Alliance, on ‘Midtown Boca’ and ‘Mizner 200’


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I have spent time pondering Midtown and Mizner 200, amidst the dialogues.  For context, I own a home in Midtown and own a law firm Downtown.  As a lawyer with an understanding of real estate law, I fully understand that owners of land, generally, have the right to do what they want with their properties.  However, this right is not without restriction.  Residents, through their elected officials, have a say.

Midtown.   It’s time for some rejuvenation of this aging area.  However, I have concerns as the planning proceeds.  Beyond any discussion of the land use laws which will have to be enacted, I have two main concerns which, I believe, must first be solved at the county level.  And, until these concerns are addressed, everything else is premature.

Firstly, state road infrastructure.  Neither Military Trail nor Glades Road are city responsibilities, and both are already inadequate for their traffic flows during peak hours.  Adding additional buildings and residents prior to widening and otherwise improving the major traffic arteries of the Midtown area is crazy.    Once buildings are built, it is increasingly difficult to improve roads to handle increased traffic.

Secondly, THERE IS NO ROOM LEFT IN EXISTING SCHOOLS FOR MORE STUDENTS AND NO NEW SCHOOLS ARE PLANNED TO SERVICE THE AREA.  We have no room left at our local schools to put any more mobile-home-classrooms, and even without new construction, our schools become more crowded every year with newly-arrived Floridian children.  And, there are no additional schools, or additions to schools, planned for the Midtown area in the School District’s planning.  If, say, density is increased by only 1500 people, there will be a couple of hundred extra kids who will not fit into their zoned schools.  Forget how to transport them or to where will they be transported.  There will be no room for them once they get there.

Now, Mizner 200.  I am not a land use expert, and will not pretend to have mastered the nuances of 4035 or the Interim Design Guidelines. Doug Mummaw, Bob Eisen and Derrek Vander Ploeg have written a most-detailed analysis of what is wrong with the project, as proposed.  And yes, they all have their own interests-this does not in any way diminish the merits of their treatise.

I oppose Mizner 200 because it just doesn’t belong where it is proposed, how it is proposed.  Palmetto Promenade is way out of scale for its surroundings.  It is so big, that even discerning its architecture is difficult, from any vantage point.  But, it is on THE major road in the area, Palmetto Park Road.  Mizner 200 is planned for Mizner Boulevard.  1000 feet of length ten stories high along Mizner Boulevard in one building?  Along Mizner, the narrow and winding road?   It is difficult to imagine just how enormous it would feel to walk its length, let alone view it from across the street.  Trying to see the whole building will be like trying to see the first and last yard lines of 3 consecutive football fields from the first row seats of any of the 3 football fields – and maybe a couple of dozen yards of vantage point –  it can’t be done.

That’s too much for a narrow, winding downtown road.  I don’t have to get into vistas, setbacks, parking, traffic and codes to know that this singular building just doesn’t belong where it’s planned, as it is planned.  And I know enough of 4035 and the Interim Design Guidelines to know that the City Council can force this project way back to a whole new drawing board to allow for the developer to make its money while fitting the development into some scheme of downtown.  This project, if passed, will forever alter, for the worse, any view, future development, re-development, walking, driving and habitability of Downtown Boca Raton.

So, while I love watching my home value increase in Midtown, and I love that commerce is flowing Downtown, these two projects, which are inevitable in some form, can’t proceed as currently designed.  They will forever harm the neighborhoods in which they are planned.  Midtown needs substantial road improvements and new schools to improve and not harm what already exists in that neighborhood.  And, Mizner 200 has to be re-designed to fit the scheme of our Downtown.  Somehow the developer has to be able to justly make its fortune without forever diminishing the function and aesthetics of Downtown.

I urge our elected officials to consider what kind of Boca Raton they want for their grandkids.  I’m confident it’s not these two projects as planned.

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  1. Excellent and thoughtful comments! I hope you will take the time and show up at the CRA meeting July 24th to make these arguments in person. Our City Council needs to hear from people like you.

  2. I moved out of Mizner On The Green because of the potential for reconstruction. I didn’t want to be in competition for living at another place. Apartment space for in Boca is limited that presents a whole other problem. Families will be forced to relocate.


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