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'Not your father's Boca:' How Boca Raton is shedding its retirement community image

Midtown Boca attracting younger population who come to live, work, play
Posted at 11:02 PM, Feb 08, 2023

BOCA RATON, Fla. — There's an appetite for new sights, new restaurants and new concepts in Boca Raton. In Midtown Boca, major change is happening to cater to a younger city.

Any avid "Seinfeld" fan will remember the fictitious Del Boca Vista retirement community where Jerry Seinfeld's parents lived.

But, as Mayor Scott Singer will remind them, "Del Boca Vista was a fiction."

'Seinfeld' cast members Jason Alexander, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Jerry Seinfeld and Michael Richards pose with trophies at Screen Actors Guild Awards in 1997
"Seinfeld" cast members, from left, Jason Alexander, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Jerry Seinfeld and Michael Richards pose together backstage at the Shrine Auditorium after they won outstanding performance by an ensemble in a comedy series at the Screen Actors Guild Awards on Saturday, Feb. 22, 1997, in Los Angeles.

People who live in Boca Raton know that, but the retirement community perception of the city stuck. That is, until now.

"It's a new, young Boca, yes," hospitality real estate broker Tom Prakas said. "It's not your father's Boca."

The median age of Boca Raton now is 48, according to the latest census data, and a newly revitalized part of the city is targeting that demographic.

"It's a new area we coined also Midtown Boca," Prakas said.

Located between Yamato Road to the north and Palmetto Park Road to the south, between Interstate 95 to the east and St. Andrews Boulevard to the west, Midtown Boca is up-and-coming.

Midtown Boca map boundaries
Midtown Boca is located between Yamato Road to the north and Palmetto Park Road to the south and between Interstate 95 to the east and St. Andrews Boulevard to the west.

Prakas is developing a new dining destination dubbed "restaurant row" – four new restaurants coming side by side in Midtown Boca.

"Restauranteurs, they've set their sights on Boca and Palm Beach County," he said.

Tom Prakas shows Michelle Quesada construction of 'restaurant row' in Midtown Boca, February 2023
Hospitality real estate broker Tom Prakas shows WPTV's Michelle Quesada what will become "restaurant row" during a February 2023 visit to the construction site in Midtown Boca.

That includes across the street at One Town Center.

Real estate entrepreneur Mitchell Robbins is bringing Midtown Boca's first Chinese restaurant.

"Boca is kind of the hole in the doughnut," Robbins said, calling it a place that "has great security, it has beaches, has awesome restaurants" and "has some of the best schools in all of the state of Florida."

Robbins opened Boca Ice – a 73,000-square-foot ice skating arena attracting up to 800 families every weekend – north of Midtown.

Sign for Boca Ice, located north of Midtown Boca, February 2023
Boca Ice is a 73,000-square-foot ice skating arena north of Midtown Boca.

Now he's also adding a more than 100,000-square-foot office building for professionals flocking to Boca Raton not to retire – but to live, work and play.

When it's cheaper to rent a one-bedroom apartment in Boca Raton than in Miami, the new Brightline stop adds an advantage over other South Florida cities.

Brightline station in Boca Raton, February 2023
The Brightline station in Boca Raton opened in December 2022, becoming Palm Beach County's second stop, along with West Palm Beach.

"It's another reason more companies are coming here to Boca Raton," Singer said.

A long way from the Del Boca Vista perception, Singer said, the city is once again taking the spotlight.

"The city's headed in an exciting direction," he said.