A lot has happened since White Paper II.
ELAD has submitted its third rendition of Mizner 200 (“Mizner 200/3”). Mizner 200/1, 2 and 3 are attached. Nothing much has changed.
Despite nothing much changing, the City Staff and the City’s Urban Consultant, Calvin, Giordano & Associates (“CG”) are now recommending that the Community Redevelopment Agency (“CRA”) approve Mizner 200/3.
Our opinion remains the same. Mizner 200/3 violates Ordinance No. 4035 in two very fundamental ways and should not be approved by the CRA.
First, its single building is just too big – not at all harmonious with nor in scale with the architectural and design environment of the Downtown so carefully created by the CRA’s 25 years of strict enforcement of Ordinance No. 4035. The building mass of Mizner 200/3 must be spread over ELAD’s 7 acre site in several harmoniously sized “Mizneresque” designed buildings, separated by vitas and views.
Second, putting aside its overwhelming bigness, the single building of Mizner 200/3 is not “Mizneresque” in design. No objection to its modern rather than Mediterranean revival look. Regardless of the look, Ordinance No. 4035 demands a “Mizneresque” design. That is, a building varied in height, varied in roof-scapes, with a setback profile and with facades that are varied and articulated. Mizner 200/3 is none of these. Mizner 200/3 is a 100 foot high, 1000 foot long wall like façade along Mizner Boulevard, repeating the same design over and over again.
• Downtown Design Code. Ordinance No. 4035 at page 36 (line 28) to page 37 (line2) states:
(f) Architectural Design. (1) It is the intent of this amended Development Order to ensure that the development of Downtown Boca Raton is carried out in accordance with a harmonious architectural environment. In order to achieve this intent, all development in Downtown Boca Raton shall comply with the following:
Ordinance No. 4035 then goes on for several pages with core design mandates and then incorporates design exhibits, policies and guidelines which are attached to Ordinance No. 4035. The design directives of Ordinance No. 4035 will be referred to as the Downtown Design Code.
The Downtown Design Code is just as much a code requirement in the Downtown as the permitted height of a building or the required open-space.
Generally, the intent of the Downtown Design Code is to minimize through design the appearance of building mass. Such being important in an urban Downtown where large building are permitted. Mizner 200/3 is the exact opposite. Its absence of a “Mizneresque” design accentuates its already overwhelming building mass.
• Project Narrative. ELAD’s Project Narrative which accompanies Mizner 200/3 states in part:
Mizner 200 is being proposed as one building that is divided into three distinct zones. Each of these zones is then broken down further in scale through form and articulation.
We take this statement as ELAD’s tacit agreement with our basic premise stated above that the Downtown Design Code requires several, separate harmonious and Mizneresque buildings on this large site.
Nonetheless, despite the words, Mizner 200/3 fails to present as “one building that is divided into three distinct zones.” It presents as one building repeating the same design over and over again.
• What exactly is the design dispute? In White Paper II, we provided some examples of multiple building designs for the ELAD site. These designs are attached.
There is a significant difference between the two designs – Mizner 200/3’s single building vs. multiple buildings. Both cannot comply with the same Downtown Design Code.
Specifically, Mizner 200/3 fails to comply with the Downtown Design Code because:
Whether the Mizner 200/3 complies or not with the Downtown Design Code is a question of code compliance to be decided by the CRA.
• The CRA approves or denies Mizner 200/3. On page 15 (lines 6-9) of Ordinance No. 4035:
Within ten (10) days of the close of the public hearing, the CRA shall approve, approve with conditions or disapprove the proposed Individual Development Approval.
It is universal in local zoning regulations for major decision to be made by the elected officials who answer to the electorate. Here, the CRA will approve or not what will be, by far, the largest single building ever to be built in the Downtown.
Ordinance No. 4035 and the Rules of the CRA set forth a process of reviews and recommendations leading up to the final public hearing before the CRA and the ultimate decision of the CRA.
The goal of the process is to inform the CRA about the issues requiring a decision so that the CRA can make the best decision possible at an open meeting.
• What does the City Staff and CG recommendation of approval mean?
The only decision that counts is the ultimate vote by the CRA after consideration of the input at the public hearing and the recommendations of the City Boards.
Leading up to the CRA vote, what ELAD says, what this White Paper says, what the City Staff says, what CG says, what anybody else says are all just opinions.
The opinion of City Staff and CG that Mizner 200/3 complies with the Downtown Design Code does not make such compliance a fact. If City Staff and CG opinions were fact, then there would be no need for public hearings, City Board recommendations and a decision by the CRA.
• Can a decision of CRA be challenged in Court? Yes, but where the issue is whether a building complies or not with the Downtown Design Code, two principles of judicial review of local zoning decision should be kept in mind. First, courts always defer to the decision of the local elected officials who heard all the evidence. Second, the decision of the local elected officials is upheld as long as there is some substantial, competent evidence in the record supporting their decision.
Zoning litigation is not a “do-over” by the judge. Zoning litigation is rarely successful and is an empty threat.
• Make your voice heard. Mizner 200/3 now proceeds to public hearings before the Community Appearance Board (“CAB”) on November 1, 2016 at 7:00 PM in the Community Center Annex Building and the Planning and Zoning Board (“P&Z”) on November 3, 2016 at 6:30 PM in the City Council Chambers.
The final and decisive Public Hearing before CRA has not been scheduled.
Now is the time to make your voice heard. Attend the Public Hearings. Contact the members of CAB, P&Z and the CRA.
A message from Al Zucaro, BocaWatch Publisher:
Below is the original submittal for Via Mizner by Zom Development. This 629’ building was summarily rejected by staff Development Director at the time, Jorge Camejo and was vehemently opposed by Resort and Office building across the street at Camino & Federal. The common concern was the unbroken length of the building. This led to the eventual 3 building Via Mizner Development. BTW Via Mizner is 7.8 acres similar to M200. If a 629’ building triggers a multi building Urban Plan at Via Mizner, why are we seeing a 1,000’ long building approved by staff? Hmmmm? A 28’ separation is negligible. Their building still presents itself as one continuous building and is not harmonious to its surrounding neighbors.
As an architect, as well as a resident and immediately past board member of the nearby 200 East condominium, I have followed with interest the various proposals by owner Elad National Properties for the development of the existing Mizner on the Green site.
As we are all aware, there has been continuing opposition to this proposal by vocal community interests, most noticeably Boca Watch. It is my contention that this reflects the expected NIMBY emotions that accompany virtually all such increases in land use intensity, even those permitted as a matter of right. The developer and its architect appear now in substantial compliance with the letter and spirit of applicable zoning regulations. The current proposal represents a vision for this project that is outstanding – quantitatively and qualitatively. The time has come to move forward.
The existing Mizner on the Green project comprises a total of 246 units; the current Elad Mizner 200 proposal adds only another 138 units – within the zoning envelope, including the 100 foot height restriction. The proposal, if approved, would thus expand the density of this 8.765 acre site from 28.1 units per acre to 43.8 units per acre. By comparison, to the south the adjacent Townsend Place is developed at the higher density of 56.4 units per acre. Similarly, the comparable neighbor to the north, my 200 East condominium, has the higher density of 49.1 units per acre (plus a substantial portion of the ground floor is developed as commercial use.) Moreover, an ugly, vast array of impervious surface parking at Mizner on the Green is to be replaced by a total of 672 structured parking spaces, comparable to those at its neighbors.
To the west, Royal Palm Plaza is zoned to permit residential towers 40-60 feet taller than Mizner 200. It is now clear that Elad and its architects have pared down their proposals to meet all relevant zoning criteria, at comparable heights and at lower densities than their neighbors.
I have reviewed renderings of the proposed Mizner 200 and the full set of architectural and site plans submitted to Boca Raton Zoning authorities for review.
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.
The proposed design of this project is superior and more appropriate in every respect to those of comparable nearby residential condominium buildings including the two examples cited above. This is also true of the recent Mark and Palmetto Promenade projects, two sad products of an inappropriate, misguided Ordinance 4035. Regarding the proposed Mizner 200 site plan, it is my understanding that the developer has met with representatives of the immediately adjacent Townsend Place and concessions have been incorporated into the plans to address some concerns regarding massing and views.
IT IS NOW TIME FOR THIS PROJECT TO BE APPROVED AND MOVE FORWARD!
A couple of comments on Mr. Colby’s arguments. First, the residents of Townsend Place are firmly opposed to the latest iteration of Mizner 200. There has been no agreement by Townsend’s Board that the latest cosmetic changes are satisfactory. We continue to argue that the building is too massive— it is by far the largest development ever proposed for downtown Boca. Larger by far than the Palmetto Promenade project that Mr. Colby disparages. Second, he may not like them, but the principles of “Mizneresque” architecture are enshrined in Boca’s building ordinances. If Boca’s citizenry want “21st century” architecture, then the ordinances should be changed accordingly. In the meantime, follow the law. Third, 200 Mizner should be evaluated in light of all of the other construction that has occurred in downtown Boca in the last eight years. We are already overbuilt beyond the capacity of our infrastructure to cope with the population and traffic increases. In this context, Mizner 200 is one shock block too many.
John C. Gore