Study: Downtown Boca Raton quickly running out of parking spots

Mizner Park in Boca Raton, February 11, 2016. (Jennifer Podis / The Palm Beach Post)

BOCA RATON — More public parking will be needed in Boca Raton as the bustling downtown grows, a city study found.

Between 100 and 350 parking places in the central portion of the downtown, near Mizner Park and Royal Palm Place plazas, will be needed in the next two decades based on parking trends, according to Kimley-Horn and Associates, a consulting firm hired by the city. The firm presented the study to city officials Monday.

The firm took a sampling of mid-day and evening parking at the city’s 1,275 public spots in March and April. Only 70 percent of overall parking spots were used during peak hours, but areas such as Mizner Park saw much higher utilization, said Chris Heggen of Kimley-Horn.

» READ: How will $1 billion Mizner 200 project change for Boca approval?

That 70 percent usage “means there is enough parking supply overall in the downtown to meet the demand that is occurring,” Heggen said.

But growth in southern Palm Beach County and expected development in downtown Boca Raton indicates at least 108 parking spots will be needed within the next five years. Up to 350 parking spaces will be needed by 2040, the firm found.

A few options were recommended to alleviate parking pains:

  • Surface parking. The city could purchase between 2.5 and 3.5 acres of land in the central area of downtown and create a surface parking lot.
  • Parking garage. About 2 acres would be needed for a parking garage in the central portion of downtown, and it would cost the city up to $10 million. The parking garage could include meters to generate revenue, Heggen said.
  • Off-site parking with a shuttle. The city could offer parking near the downtown and have a convenient shuttle transport visitors during peak hours.
  • Public-private partnership. Agreements could be made with the owners of built and forthcoming developments to add public parking. Ideally, the city would partner with an office building, which would have parking available during peak evening hours.
  • City government campus parking. The city has discussed building a city government campus in downtown Boca Raton. Additional public parking for visitors could be taken into consideration in planned the government campus, Heggen said.

City leaders pointed out that other areas of the downtown, such as Southeast First Avenue where two new restaurants – Louie Bossi and Frank and Dino’s – have driven up parking needs, have also added to downtown demand in recent months.

» READ: Five secret (and free) places to park in downtown Delray Beach

“You might as well go out and count again,” Mayor Susan Haynie said.

Another option downtown is smart meters, which may eliminate free parking in certain areas.

Pay-to-park may not be ideal in downtown Boca Raton, because some of the spots are underutilized, Heggen said.

The city will collect more data before parking proposals are brought forward.

Pizza chain starts South Florida expansion with Boynton locations

Part owner of Hungry Howie’s Michael Pierson in his new Boynton Beach location on July 25, 2017. (Palm Beach Post/Alexandra Seltzer)

A pizza chain plans to expand in South Florida and has already begun with two new restaurants in Boynton Beach.

Hungry Howie’s opened a store at 4789 N. Congress Ave. in the Meadows Square plaza at Hypoluxo Road, and at 1660 S. Congress Ave. just south of Woolbright Road.

Both openings happened within the past three weeks, said part owner Michael Pierson.

The Hungry Howie’s new Boynton Beach location on July 25, 2017. (Palm Beach Post/Alexandra Seltzer)

The chain is known for its flavored pizza crust and oven-baked subs. They also offer deals every Wednesday, Pierson said.

Delray police to fight crime, drugs and bullying with National Night Out event

Delray Beach Police Chief Jeff Goldman (center in uniform) hands out bubbles to children at the department’s National Night Out event in 2016. (Courtesy of Delray Beach Police)

DELRAY BEACH — City police aim to bond with residents to deter crime, discourage drug use and end bullying through a community gathering Tuesday, Aug. 1.

Delray Beach Police will participate in National Night Out, a police event held in communities throughout the country to strengthen bonds with residents and raise awareness about issues in their areas. It will take place 6 p.m. at the Delray Beach Tennis Center, at 201 W Atlantic Ave.

The free event includes children’s games, music, food and entertainment. Delray Beach Police’s SWAT team and motorcycle unit will hold demonstrations for residents.

» EXCLUSIVE: Voter fraud in Palm Beach County: State attorney finds crimes, but no suspect

The department is also giving away backpacks filled with school supplies to children who attend the event, according to the department.

City officials, firefighters and paramedics are also expected to attend.

“It’s very important that the community come together and people get to know one another and know their neighbors,” Chief Jeffrey Goldman said in a statement. “If the people in the community come together and know each other, there can be a healthy exchange of information between them and the police and hopefully we can get information to help solve crimes and maybe even prevent crimes.”

This year’s National Night Out will focus on preventing bullying as well as crime and drug use, the themes of previous years.

Delray Beach Police asked that residents lock their doors and turn on the lights outside their homes before attending the event.

“While the one night is certainly not an answer to crime, drugs and violence, National Night Out represents the kind of spirit, energy and determination to help make neighborhoods a safer place year round,” Goldman said. “It is a wonderful opportunity for communities across the city to promote police-community partnerships, crime prevention, and neighborhood camaraderie.”

Boca sends $1B Mizner 200 downtown project back to drawing board

A rendering of Mizner 200 (Courtesy of City of Boca Raton)

BOCA RATON — The plan to build luxury condominium high-rises near Mizner Park in downtown Boca Raton will need to be tweaked before it can secure city approval, a Boca Raton board said Monday.

Mizner 200 is too massive and doesn’t fit the city’s architectural guidelines, said the city’s Community Redevelopment Agency, made up of city council members, in a marathon discussion that lasted more than six hours. Several residents and stakeholders spoke during the meeting to praise the idea or suggest changes.

Developer Elad National Properties offered to work with city staff to fine-tune the project, which includes three buildings with 384 luxury condominiums at an 8.7-acre property between Royal Palm Plaza and Boca Raton Golf Club.

» READ: 3 in custody after car burglaries in Boca Teeca, police say

“We are not going to start everything again. For sure,” Elad CEO Amnon Safron said of once again seeking approval from several city boards. The project has been in the works for more than a year.

Estimated to be worth about $1,000 per square foot, the condominium complex will be worth about $1 billion, said Robert Sweetapple, attorney for Elad National.

The city board suggested scaling the size back, opening the space between the three buildings and emphasizing 3 acres of open space with small parks.

“It’s a big site,” said Councilman Jeremy Rogers. “I think we want to get it right.”

The project requires demolishing Mizner on the Green, a series of three-story town home buildings. The proposed project is nearly triple in height.

“When you walk by Mizner on the Green … you see the sky. That’s what we’re giving up,” Councilwoman Andrea O’Rourke said.

The board gave Elad National Properties two weeks to tweak the project and submit it to city staff before it can be placed before the board again at an Aug. 21 meeting.

For more details and renderings of this project, read here.

Ice Ice B…oynton? Rapper dines at Boynton Beach cafe

Rapper Vanilla Ice takes a selfie at East Ocean Cafe on July 23, 2017 . (Handout: Cindy Sumlin, owner of the cafe)

Rapper Vanilla Ice dined at a Boynton Beach cafe this weekend and snapped selfies with the restaurant’s owner.

“He’s an awesome guy. He makes everybody smile,” said Cindy Sumlin, owner of East Ocean Cafe.

>> Read: What was Vanilla Ice doing at this Royal Palm Beach restaurant?

The Wellington rapper, whose legal name is Rob Van Winkle, came to the Ocean Avenue spot for lunch on Sunday. Sumlin says the visit wasn’t a rarity; he dines there frequently.

Vanilla Ice with Cindy Sumlin, owner of East Ocean Cafe in Boynton Beach. (Handout: Cindy Sumlin)

The family-owned East Ocean Cafe, at 412 E. Ocean Ave., is known for its eggs Benedict and home fries.

Sumlin shared the photos on the restaurant’s Facebook page and wrote: “What a Wonderful weekend we had at The Cafe. Thank you everyone coming and enjoying breakfast and lunch with us . It was nice to see you again Rob (Vanilla Ice) you always being a smile”

 

You can putt for free in Boca at Mizner Park’s new mini-golf greens

Putt’n On The Plaza, a free min–golf course at Mizner Park in downtown Boca Raton, recently opened. (Contributed)

BOCA RATON — Grab a club and take a swing at Mizner Park’s new — free — mini-golf putting green.

The downtown plaza added a small, complimentary course, called “Putt’n On The Plaza,” with clubs and balls, provided by the city and Community Redevelopment Agency.

» READ: Here’s the next target for nude beach idea in Palm Beach County

The course is just outside Max’s Grille at the north end of Mizner Park, at Palmetto Park Road and Federal Highway.

All ages are welcome to use the mini-golf course.

Gov. Rick Scott will visit this Boca Raton-based business to talk job growth

Gov. Rick Scott speaks to employees at RGF Environmental Groupd in Riviera Beach, Florida on May 3, 2017. (Allen Eyestone / The Palm Beach Post)

BOCA RATON — Gov. Rick Scott will visit the corporate headquarters of Orangetheory Fitness, a national fitness franchise based in Boca Raton, to highlight job growth Wednesday afternoon.

Scott will speak at the fitness company’s headquarters, at 6000 Broken Sound Pkwy NW, at 2:30 p.m.

» READ: Dining buzz: 8 new restaurants on deck, from Boca to the Gardens

Orangetheory Fitness has hundreds of locations worldwide, including three in and near Boca Raton, and focuses on intense, 1-hour group workouts.

BurgerFi to open in Boynton Beach next week

Image of a BurgerFi. (Phil Scavo)

It’s been in the works for at least 10 months, but Boynton Beach residents will finally be able to eat at BurgerFi next week.

Owner Phil Scavo plans to open his restaurant in Renaissance Commons on Monday.

Scavo built the restaurant in about 3,000 square feet of space taken from the 6,000-square-foot Hurricane Grill & Wings restaurant. 

The restaurant is at 1500 Gateway Blvd. at Congress Avenue.

BurgerFi started in 2011 and uses 100 percent natural Angus beef patties. The company says they don’t use steroids, antibiotics, growth hormones, chemicals or additives. It’s described on the website as a “Gourmet Hamburger Restaurant: French Fries & Craft Beer.”

Three-course meal in Delray for $20? Yes, it’s coming

A crowd gathers outside City Oyster on Atlantic Avenue. (Photo by Lannis Waters/ The Palm Beach Post)

DELRAY BEACH — You can treat yourself to a meal at downtown Delray Beach’s most popular (and pricey) destinations for cheap this summer.

But only for a week.

Restaurant Week, when more than 35 popular downtown restaurants, juice bars and cafes offer discounted multi-course meals, will return for its second year on Aug. 1-7.

Coordinated by the city’s Downtown Development Authority, Restaurant Week is meant to drum up business during downtown’s sluggish off-season. But based on last year’s crowds, the DDA recommends people book reservations if possible.

» READ: It’s really happening. Delray iPic broke ground

Restaurants will offer multi-course breakfast, lunch and dinner meals for a fixed price, as well discounted menu items. Some of the deals include three-course dinners for as low as $20 per person.

The participating restaurants include a few new additions to Delray Beach: Banyan Restaurant & Bar, Death or Glory and ROK:BRGR.

Many of the restaurants haven’t announced specific menu items or prices yet.

In addition to affordable meals, there’s a deal on a downtown hotel, prize giveaways and food-themed events, such as pizza-making classes at Mellow Mushroom and a Whiskey 101 course at 32 East.

The Hyatt Place, on Northeast Second Avenue, a block north of Atlantic Avenue, has King Deluxe rooms for $99 throughout that week (using the code G-FOOD).

And if you use the hashtag #DineOutDowntownDelray on Facebook or Instagram while eating at one of the restaurants, you’ll be entered into a raffle for $300 worth of gift cards.

Check back for more details on Delray Beach Restaurant Week as they emerge.

Here’s the list of restaurants that will participate:

  • 3rd & 3rd
  • 32 East
  • 50 Ocean
  • Banyan Restaurant & Bar
  • Big Al’s Steaks
  • Boston’s On The Beach
  • Caffe Luna Rosa
  • City Oyster & Sushi Bar
  • Corner Porch
  • CREAM
  • DADA
  • Death or Glory
  • Deck 84
  • Delray Hideaway
  • Eat Market
  • Farmhouse Kitchen
  • HONEY
  • JuiceBuzz
  • Juice Papi
  • Lemongrass Asian Bistro
  • Luigi’s Coal Oven Pizza
  • Max’s Harvest
  • Mellow Mushroom
  • Papa’s Tapas
  • PRIME
  • PURGREENS
  • Racks Fish House & Oyster Bar
  • ROK:BRGR
  • SALT 7
  • Sandwiches By The Sea
  • Sazio
  • Scuola Vecchia
  • Smoke BBQ
  • The Office
  • Vic & Angelo’s
  • Windy City Pizza

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.