Boynton group opposes changes for more rentals and no condos

The District at Cortina apartments, shown here on July 6, 2017, is under construction in Boynton Beach. (Alexandra Seltzer / The Palm Beach Post)

A group of Boynton Beach residents have created an online petition against proposed changes to the incoming Cortina residential project off Congress Avenue.

A developer wants to build more than 300 additional apartments instead of 643 condos. Also, a plan for 115 single-family homes is in trouble. That developer now favors townhomes and apartments.

Read: Boynton could lose houses to apartments furthering crunch for homes

Cindy Glover lives in Renaissance Commons, next to the development at Old Boynton Road, and emailed the city’s officials Saturday about her concerns. She said the neighborhood already has enough apartments under construction. She wants the plans to stay as approved. The commission will likely decide later this month if the changes are OK.

The residents’ petition is on Change.org and is titled, “Oppose Cortina zoning changes!” It’s garnered 18 signatures as of Monday afternoon.

In 2015, city officials approved the Cortina project put forth by JKM Development. The plans promised homes for 1,108 families, including 115 single-family homes, 350 apartments and 643 condos. Those homes were packaged with an existing commercial element, the Boynton Village & Town Center that includes Target, Michael’s and Total Wine & More.

The first phase of Cortina, the 350 apartments now called The District, is almost complete.

The proposed changes are adding to an already difficult housing market in Boynton and throughout Palm Beach County. A study released in April of Boynton’s housing stock, estimated that about 1,800 families will move to the city during the next five years. But it forecast that fewer than 800 vacant homes would be up for sale.

The proposed changes at Cortina would turn 643 condos to rentals, creating what the study’s author’s called a “significant imbalance” between for-sale and for-rent housing, in addition to contributing to the overall shortage.

There are single-family homes under construction, just not enough. Nonprofits work with the city and the Community Redevelopment Agency to build homes in targeted low-income neighborhoods. But they usually are built one at a time and can’t keep pace with the demand. Some relief is expected from the Casa Del Mar project going up off Federal Highway, but even that adds only 72 homes to the market.

Boynton is about to be flush with apartments. More than 1,000 units are going up from the Intracoastal Waterway to Congress Avenue.

Glover’s email in part:

Higher-density development is more profitable for builders, but it is not good for residents of Boynton Beach. There are at least three important reasons why the City Commission should reject this request:
Traffic & Parking – Renaissance Commons Blvd. and Congress Avenue will soon be much more congested as a result of apartments already under construction. Increasing housing density will make this worse.
Public Safety – Higher levels of home ownership are associated with lower levels of crime and less strain on police, fire, and EMT resources. 
Education – The public schools in our zone (Galaxy Elementary, Congress Middle, and Boynton Beach High) have all received C’s or D’s from the Florida Department of Education over the past two years. It is harder for the schools to build strong relationships with parents when residents are transient.