Boca Raton construction boom brings issues of overcrowding, congestion

BOCA RATON, Fla. - How big is too big?

In Boca Raton, residents are wondering whether a construction boom will make things overcrowded in the new year.

Some residents feel the current construction is making it even harder to find a place to park downtown.

Michelle Toomey wonders what life will be like in the next two years after buildings are finished, and people start living in them. More than 1,000 new units are approved downtown.

"I feel like we need to have bridges over bridges over bridges just to get everybody where they need to go," said Toomey.

So many units have been built since the recession ended that the city is almost at its limit, which was set in 1989.  The city has 266 units left to go out of 3,600 that are permitted.

Mayor Susan Whelchel said the city will have to look at buying new property for more parking.  But the mayor says people and parking have been crucial in luring new businesses.

"One of the most important questions that they ask is the vibrancy of a downtown. They're interested in many things, but that is one of the things that they look to, whether there is a sense of place," said Whelchel.

The city admits there's no question the new units will make things more crowded. However, they believe current roads, with a few adjustments to turn lanes and signals, will be able to handle the new people.

Mark Anter, who has lived in downtown Boca Raton since 1989, said he is optimistic he'll still be able to get around easily.

"I think it's great. I really do," said Anter.

The year 2014 will bring new people and new concerns to downtown Boca Raton.

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