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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We, residents, have come a long way in the last few years. More than symbolic, the reaching of an amicable agreement between neighboring interests for Mizner 200 is a major victory. Mizner 200, one of the most contentious public fights in Boca Raton’s recent development history, is a prime example of a ‘new cooperative spirit’ in our city’s planning and design direction. Now, with two examples of this new cooperative spirit, Mizner 200 and Ocean Palm, residents clearly have taken a ‘seat’ at the ‘proverbial’ table; our voice is being heard. No longer will projects just sail through on the political winds of lobbyists and lawyers. That is a good thing; a long sought victory in the quest for a ‘resident friendly’ City Council. Take heart, the mood has shifted and the wind is at our back but the struggle is not over. March 2018 offers yet another moment to continue this directional change furthering the notion of a ‘resident friendly’ council. Remember, your vote is your voice; let you voice once again be heard.
BocaBeautiful.org is heartened by the new cooperative spirit in which the developer of Mizner 200 is approaching the redesign of their project, after being directed to do so by the Mayor and three City
Council Members, sitting as the CRA. Architects representing El-Ad have met with representatives of both Investments Limited and Townsend Place and have made significant improvements to their July 24th proposal. Most importantly, they have reduced the mass of their building to let in light and allow improved vistas for their neighbors. They have agreed to design changes that will make the building more “harmonious” with its neighbors, as required by Ordinance 4035. We hope that the developer will present this “improved” version of Mizner 200 when they appear again before the CRA on August 21st.
While we are not in a position to endorse any particular project, we can enthusiastically endorse the process that produced this result. Cooperation is always preferable to confrontation. Developers should be on notice that the days of Boca’s elected leaders approving anything and everything in the name of “progress” are over. Residents should also admit that further development is inevitable. We need to ensure that it is well-planned and in keeping with Boca’s historic and architectural traditions. Above all, we need to ensure that the infrastructure necessary to service all of our new residents and businesses is in place before new buildings are built. It might be too much to ask our civic leaders for vision, but we can at least ask them for foresight.
In that vein, we would ask that the CRA and City Council pay particular attention to traffic and safety issues on SE Mizner Boulevard. Under the City’s traffic plan (sic), SE Mizner was conceived as a “bypass” to relieve traffic congestion on Federal Highway through the heart of downtown. A “slingshot” intersection at SE 5th street shoots traffics onto Mizner at speeds that make it one of the most dangerous pedestrian crossings in Boca. Various attempts have been made to improve pedestrian safety at the crosswalks on Mizner—none very successfully. Traffic on Mizner often exceeds the posted speed limit, which is probably too high in the first place.
Approval of Mizner 200 and eventually of the Royal Palm Place redevelopment will mean that SE Mizner Boulevard is a residential neighborhood thoroughfare. The CRA and City Council should demand that the developers of these two big projects work together to improve traffic flow and safety on Mizner. This should be an important consideration in the approval process.
In conclusion, BocaBeautiful.org congratulates those members of the City Council (Rodgers, O’Rourke, Haynie and Singer) who have insisted on a cooperative approach to Mizner 200 design and development. If brought to a successful conclusion, this should be the new paradigm for development in Boca.
John C. Gore
Very well said.
There may be a compromise but it still sounds like a mess to me. How many lemmings can you fit on Federal Hwy at rush hour in Boca?
“Developers should be on notice that the days of Boca’s elected leaders approving anything and everything in the name of “progress” are over. Residents should also admit that further development is inevitable. We need to ensure that it is well-planned and in keeping with Boca’s historic and architectural traditions. ”
Well Said Mr Gore. Citizens need to know, legally, we can’t say no to everything… and developers are starting to learn we WON’T say yes to everything!
I intend to push for a pedestrian friendly crossing(s) at Mizner. The time to get this right is when the project is before us, not later.
Deputy Mayor Jeremy Rodgers
Mr Rogers, you are right about getting involved early and that is why we have urban planners, architects, concurrency experts ,traffic experts all looking at the midtown project. We view this is our last chance to create a jewel for boca. A great destination spot with shops, and casual bars, and restaurants similar to delray or more like Naples downtown area. A place you and your family can come to anytime and walk the area and feel safe with plenty of parking. After Royal Palm is replaced by 5 massive buildings I guarantee you downtown is done. This weekend go downtown and try and walk around the Mark. It has a ugly black railing all around with one hair salon. Where are all the mixed use stuff in the renderings. The big con. Do you understand why there is a trust issue. We want midtown to work but not with these developers bullying the city staff. Get involved. “The time to get this right is when the project is before us,not later”.Jeremy Rogers quote.
Too late, look at Military Trail and Congress Avenue. The city has already sold out to the developers.
At Mizner 200, we residents of East Boca Raton could have easily seen the same 384 units sited with twice the current proposed open space and twice the “transparency” between towers, with inspiring architecture to boot.
All that would have been necessary was to scale this project down from the 500 units first proposed three years ago by world class architect Daniel Libeskind to the density about to be approved.
We desperately need to revisit the unconscionable constraints imposed by our city’s Ordinance 4035 and the inflexible zoning restrictions that inhibit good architecture – in the name of a run of the mill Mediterranean revivalist.
-John G. Colby, AIAE
200 East Palmetto Park Rd.
“World Class Architect Daniel Libeskind” ?!?!? …. You are correct that the current design is ‘run of the mill Mediterranean revivalist’. Certainly it is not distinguished architecture. But neither is it offensive as Daniel Libeskind’s pretentious design would have been. To paraphrase your own argument, Libeskind’s oversized design could be likened to ‘run of the mill starchitecture schlock’. When the Libeskind circus pulled into town, he quickly cranked out another mindless version of his equally dreadful design for Kebble Bay towers. He ignored the local context there. He tried to pull off the same ill-conceived stunt in Boca. I for one do not consider Libeskind’s work to be of any quality whatsoever. Not least the outmoded ‘towers in a park’ idea has been proven not to make great walkable cities. But I doubt that Libeskind ever cared much about that … or indeed about BOCA. He’s not that thoughtful. – Libeskind’s shallow and superficial work is for people who think ‘novelty’ is the same as ‘quality’. Real architecture is for the rest of us.
Kudos to John Colby for thinking of the future and not the past. Enough of these massive masonry/concrete structures. Reach for the heavens and provide more open space below.
John, you are a very smart guy. I don’t know what AIAE means after your name. I am that not smart but I don’t understand what you are talking about. Are you saying ord 4035 is bad . But we are stuck with it. We have had several developments totally ignore it as in Tower 155 and Mark and now you are saying Mizner 200 since complies with it is bad. It has 4 acres of open space and nice vistas whatever they are and this is bad. You say “4035 is inflexible zoning restrictions that inhibit good architecture of a run of the mill Mediiterranean revivalist” . huh I have no idea what you should said. You mean more Spanish tile and stuff like that. I got vistas I think. Could you give us some examples. We appreciate you trying to educate us downtowners on this stuff. Thank you.
The following was part of my published response last Oct. 26 to the Bocawatch “White Paper III,” to which I refer you.
As a licensed architect for 40 years, it is my considered opinion that the design standards mandated by Ordinance 4035, serve only to promote a flawed and banal interpretation of “Mizneresque architecture.” Standards of romanticized and inappropriate details, massing and fenestration are disincentives to quality architecture. Boca Raton is not a Mizner Fantasyland, this is the 21st century and architects and our citizens deserve better.
“Reach for the heavens and more open space below”. huh. Help us. How do you do that. I like the idea.
Consensus and compromise are certainly welcome in this area of our city’s future. Kudos to all! Next stop – Midtown!!!
Very worthwhile thread, this is what I love about the possibility of Boca Watch.
Councilman Rogers, I challenge all at the dais to not stop at the idea of “pushing” for a crossing, however worthwhile that is. If you want a greater Downtown to emerge, (1) given that the Amended Plan (still the plan of record) has been completely abandoned, and (2) no new plan for Downtown has never been discussed (let alone approved), we have to think bigger and plan now. We are going to lose opportunities and face inevitable unforeseen circumstances if we stop at treating a single crosswalk as a cause to champion. Be a leader for our future and champion future vision. Right now, there is no plan at all.
Soon Margaret Fitzsimmons and I will be presenting a plan for future revitalization efforts Downtown, beginning at Wildflower as an economic driver and recreational gem. We are happy to share our ideas and bring them into the public arena for use by our elected officials in their discussions.
Joe, Midtown is a joke. These developers are trying to put 2500 units into 50 acres. They first tried to say if the city rezones the area by march 2017 for 2500 units at 500 sq ft tri rail will put in a second station. Letter in the mail stuff. They think the residents were all born last night. Development is needed but on steroids. They are saying no cars needed therefore no parking since everybody will be walking and biking. LOL. This is florida you idiots. Kimberly Horne did a feasible study 2 years ago and said a second station was goofy. Hey hope they can pull it off. august 29th and 30th we will find out since abrams got tri rail folks to come talk to us. Good for him. If done right values will skyrocket if not there will be blight and a disaster with traffic on military. If it was my money I would get rid of the clowns trying to develop that area.and start fresh. With nce site plans and the truth..