What is the status of Midtown Boca?
Midtown Boca’s intended progress – consistent with the City’s Comprehensive Plan – is currently blocked until the City formally adopts updated mixed-use land use regulations. At that time, landowners can submit plans for public review and approval. For now, the area is restricted to commercial-only development – the zoning in place when the area was annexed from the County in 2003. In 2010, the City designated Midtown as a Planned Mobility District (PMD) and was supposed to put the required zoning in place by 2011.
The City has essentially created a development moratorium in Midtown that violates state law and Boca Raton’s own Comprehensive Plan. It has also imposed conditions never before required of landowners in the City, including those in the Broken Sound area which was similarly rezoned to include residential uses.
Why the delay?
Most recently, City Council chose to impose an undefined and contrived requirement for a “Small Area Plan” for Midtown Boca, further delaying action for likely up to a year. That left Crocker Partners, Midtown’s largest landowner, with court action as its only option. Resolution is pending on claims seeking to recoup $137 million in damages and to compel the City to enact the new land use regulations.
After over two years of working with the City, Crocker Partners’ Angelo Bianco terms the lawsuits a last resort and “lose-lose” proposition.
We’ve focused tremendous energy and resources in responsible, transformative development over 30 years in this City we call our home. Our interest isn’t in burdening taxpayers with damages but in moving Midtown forward to its full potential. Without action, Midtown becomes a missed opportunity as nearby cities step up to rezone outdated commercial districts and secure the limited traffic concurrency rights.
Boca Magazine’s City Watch column summed it up:
Boca Raton never has faced litigation like that over Midtown. Whatever revelations emerge and whatever the result, what could have been a needed and helpful redevelopment project could be gone because the City stopped negotiating on Jan. 23. And that’s the best-case scenario. The worst case is that the City loses Midtown and a lot of money.