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