Residents, City Council don't agree on how to develop Boca Raton

Land use changes ahead for 5 city parcels

BOCA RATON, Fla. - Developers are eyeing acres of land in Boca Raton that sat vacant through much of the economic downturn. They are proposing potential high-rises of mixed use for home, retail and office space. 

The proposals aren't sitting well with some neighbors.

When Jim Wood moved near Mizner Park more than a decade ago, he never thought he can see high rises from his yard. Today, he can see them from the back and the front.

"My concern is this will change the character of Boca Raton forever. Once you put in a massive apartment project there's no going back," says Wood. 

The City Council is looking to change land uses of at least five separate parcels throughout Boca Raton. Wood says he's for development, but not the type being proposed. Some plans call for hundreds of units on just a few acres, and reaching as high as 85 feet tall.

"High density doesn't benefit citizens, it bring gridlock and more traffic," says George O'Rourke, who lives near Wood.

Earlier this year,  the City Council approved 600 more apartment units in the downtown core. Council member Anthony Majhess, the lone dissenting vote, fears similar-style development could turn other parts of the city into a mini-downtown.

"The projects that are coming forward are as much as 48 pr even 54 units per acre, so it's a lot more intense. It's over double the max that we intended two years ago," says Majhess.

City leaders in favor of the denser development say it will revitalize the city in this economic lull, and bring in much needed tax dollars.

But Wood worries the demand isn't there for so many apartment rentals.

"They might just sit there and look empty and go into disrepair. The piling on of these projects perpetuates that problem," says Wood.

Residents can voice their opinion at the next Planning and Zoning Commission meeting on October 4th.

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