New proposal would add to Boca Raton's downtown skyline

Posted by Brian Pearl on Sunday, November 9th, 2014 at 12:32pm.

Downtown Boca Raton New CondominiumsA downtown Boca Raton residential complex that languished for 10 years in the planning stages has been revived -- now with bigger proportions.

Royal Palm Place was approved in 2003 as a 149-unit, downtown apartment complex, part of the mixed-use development on Federal Highway. It received several extensions on its approval until time ran out in March.

But now, one of Boca's biggest landowners, Investments Limited, is bringing Royal Palm Place back to life. And now it's 200 units, instead of 149, and 13 stories high, instead of 10. It will also reach at least 40 feet higher the city's official 100-foot limit.

"The Royal Palm proposal is a sign of the times as there is robust demand for downtown units," said Glenn Gromann, chairman of the Downtown Boca Raton Advisory Committee, a member of the planning board and a development lawyer.

He cited a study released last week that showed Boca is one of the 11th-most desirable cities to live in the country, just on the heels of being rated one of the best places to live in the state in September.

"Boca is getting great press for quality of life and new redevelopment," Gromann said. "This spurs even lower taxes and further sustains city amenities."

But critics are concerned that development such as this -- taller and denser than Boca's traditional development -- means the city is morphing into something with a lower quality of life.

The revised project proposal is going to make its public debut at 9:30 a.m., Tuesday at City Hall at the Planning Advisory Review, which is when city employees look at preliminary plans to see what's needed for a complete submission.

It would be the fourth downtown Boca building to make an application under temporary rules that allow buildings to rise 140 feet, plus 20 feet for "decorative elements."

The other buildings are Via Mizner, now under construction on Federal Highway and Camino Real, the Mark at CityScape, 20 E. Boca Raton Road, which is almost complete, and the Hyatt Place Hotel Boca Raton at the Southeast corner of Palmetto Park Road and Federal Highway.

Ann Witte, a downtown resident, said it's time that the city review whether those temporary guidelines that allow the extra height are working the way they were promised when they were approved temporarily.

The time is ripe, she said, because CityScape, the first building under these taller guidelines, is just about complete. She said she's planning to be at Tuesday's review.

"I think that it is time ... that we take a look ... to see if this is the way we want to go, or if there are additional modifications we should make to get the downtown we want," she said. "Most of us look at CityScape and say, 'This is not the way we want to go.'"

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