Waterfront and Economic Development: Vision 2020!


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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All cities evolve and change; the results can be seen throughout history in great places we’ve all visited around the world. And while change always comes with resistance, it is essential to jump in and be part of shaping that change; true in the many cities that come to mind when visualizing our favorite places. Ask yourself, what makes this place special? What makes it memorable through the many photos taken? What inspires you to choose it as destination for a family vacation, or moreover, a place to put down roots and live? In these places we stroll down memorable walking streets for hours under shaded tree canopies, explore unique merchant’s windows along the way, and stop in for a coffee, or a gelato, and eventually a savory meal. We stumble across amazing outdoor parks, public art, historic monuments and even attend outdoor festivals and community events in bustling urban parks or watch boats along waterfronts. Perhaps you’re thinking of European cities Florence, Barcelona, Paris, or US destinations such as Chicago, Boston, Manhattan. The smaller towns that come to mind may be Charleston or St. Augustine, and….Boca Raton. What do these cities all have in common? Their residents and stakeholders love their cities and want them to be great places to live. Boca Raton, like other great cities, has adopted several iterations of visions and comprehensive plans over the years…milestones have been in 1982, 1992, 2007 and 2010. But just like these other great cities, our city is growing, and with growth comes change. As the year 2020 is fast approaching, we have significant Architecture coming on line, from The Mandarin Oriental, to Tower 155 and Mizner 200, to 327 Royal Palm, the planning of Royal Palm Plaza, and unique dining venues such as the renovated historic site of Luff’s Fish House Restaurant. Equally exciting, our Boca Raton Museum of Art has recently received a bequest of significant sculptures, and our waterfronts are primed and ready to come to life.

Herein lies our opportunity, all stars are in alignment…what legacy do we want to leave? We have the ability as a community to come together and shape the next chapter in our city’s history, our version of a Great City. Recognizing the importance of this, we’ve begun to assemble a community driven effort led by local Visionaries, to guide our city’s future: Enter “Boca Raton’s 2020 Vision; Planning our Future from Coast to Campus”. Between now and the Year 2020 the mission of this collaborative group is to encourage the City in rolling out the next overlay to our Comprehensive Plan, introducing a 21st Century Vision of a flourishing downtown, its Urban Waterfront, network of waterfront parks, and their connection to the greater city. This timely effort starts now with Phase 1, the design of our waterfront parks that are on the drawing boards as we speak, because every successful City and Waterfront Destination starts with a comprehensive City Vision shaped by its community.

Below is the link to the presentation I gave to City Council yesterday following the introduction of this initiative by our Council liaison Andrea O’Rourke. The presentation introduces this effort, and makes a call to action for the next steps in bringing Phase 1, our “Downtown Waterfront” to fruition. Check out the starting list of our local Visionaries, which continues to grow to include a cross section of knowledge and experience to guide this effort, and equally important, the spheres of topics that will be addressed, where all voices in our community are welcome, and essential. Reach out on Facebook: 2020VisionBoca or Gmail 2020VisionBoca@gmail.com to join in by sharing ideas, comments, and to let us know if you would like to be actively involved in this planning. The future is ours to paint, let’s make it our masterpiece, together!

Downtown Waterfront 2020 Vision

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  1. I was at City Hall when this presentation was given. It was more than impressive, it was outstanding. Ms. Fitzsimmons obviously is a very talented architect and urban planner. We can only hope our city and its residents will get on board and Follow through with Ms. Fitzsimmons vision.

  2. This is a very ambitious plan! But I am concerned that from all appearances, the boatbramp and needed parking for same appears to have been ashcanned for just a small place to tie up for a few minutes. Am I missing something?

    • Thanks John, All ideas for the waterfront so far are preliminary, and will flushed out by consultant EDSA. Input from boaters is key, and the 2020 Vision group would like to hold a focus group on this topic so interested boaters & residents can give input…please look out for this, and add your voice! .

  3. Cities are comprised of more than just buildings and people. The most “livable” cities – and some of the world’s most famous cities – are known as much for their open space, their urban waterfronts, and public art, as they are for their buildings. We have all been cities (big and small) and seen these environments. We see how attention to public space are attractions in their own right for inhabitants and visitors alike…These environments add to the health, vibrancy, well being of a community, and therefore economic growth and stability.

    This message has been my passion for quite some time. Boca has been growing and building a lot in the past several years…what we haven’t done yet is focus on the creative, cultural and human aspect…. These are things that form a ‘real community’.

    The city has hired a renown landscape architecture firm EDSA to conduct a Waterfront Comprehensive Study. They came back to the community earlier this summer with their first round of ideas and for more community input. After that gathering, the general consensus that I heard was that not enough energy and creativity was not directed to the Wildflower/Silver Palm sites. (Wildflower city owned property by our Intracoastal has been chain-linked and padlocked for years and years.)

    An all inclusive community vision that looks at culture, creativity and connectivity could be the icing on the cake for Boca Raton. Thank you Margaret Fitzsimons for spending hours of your professional expertise into volunteer time for the betterment of our community.
    Andrea Levine O’Rourke
    Boca Raton City Council Member

  4. WOW… Truly amazing work Margaret! Once again, City of Boca Raton is so blessed to have you part of this. Can’t wait for this to come to fruition!
    Tiina E. Collins

  5. Margaret, you have my personal commitment and the support of the DBA from inception through completion, including pushing back against the pushback!

  6. Does anyone else feel like the 2020 presentation was just a copy and paste of “cool things” from other cities around the world stuck on a power point and superimposed on the map of Boca?
    In my opinion, It felt like it was a generic one size fits all presentation.

    • With due respect, you have no idea of how many unpaid hours were spent by Margaret (and others) in rolling out this initiative. Fortunately, Margaret is an architect who has studied the waterfront development of many other cities, and has incorporated what HAS already worked for our elected officials and EDSA to consider. We private sector volunteers are trying to affect positive change through positive work for the greater good. Margaret has given endlessly.

  7. @Mike Liss – I never personally insulted Margaret or claimed to know how many hours went into this, I just gave my opinion of what I thought about it. I am sure Margaret is a wonderful lady and architect.
    My point is I didn’t see anything really specific to Boca, just pictures of other ideas from other cities. For instance: Why would Savannah Ga. be on there?
    Are we really going to have a water taxi?
    Are concession and refreshment pavilions even allowed downtown? Would this anger the restaurant owners?
    I wish you all luck and hope it will turn out well because Boca is a nice city and the Wildflower spot has been vacant for way to many years, its actually embarrassing.


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