Friday, February 3, 2023

Boca’s Big Plans for Former Ocean Breeze Golf Course & More

The Greater Boca Raton Beach and Park District is thinking big on its plans for the former Ocean Breeze golf course. Very big.

The district’s proposed master plan for the roughly 200 acres within the Boca Teeca community in the city’s north end includes a golf complex and an Olympics-level— 50-meter lanes—aquatics center. But as they say on the Home Shopping Network, that’s not all.

Other proposed amenities, in no particular order, are: Eight miles of hiking and cycling trails; a dog park; a butterfly garden and community garden; picnic areas; a playground; and a “central green” for farmers’ markets and art shows.

Erin Wright is the district’s board chairman. She acknowledged that the plan is ambitious but said, “I think this is something that is needed in the city.”

Ocean Breeze closed because too few Boca Teeca residents played it. Residents opposed residential development of the vacant site. When Boca Raton decided to sell the city’s municipal golf course, the district bought it—for $24 million—with the idea of creating a new municipal layout.

But the district and the city could not agree on cost and design of the course. Then The Boca Raton donated what is now the Boca Raton Golf and Racquet Club. As a result, the district started over, looking at Ocean Breeze as a blank canvas.

The plan envisions development of four areas: northwest, called the Links (golf); northeast, called the Hills; southeast, called the Trails; and southwest, called the Preserve. The first phase, consisting of the trails and the racket facility, could start in 2023 and take two years. The second phase could start in 2026 and be complete in 2028.

Estimated cost at this point is about $25 million. But the district intends to seek a public-private partnership, known as a P3, for the golf complex and racket facility. Delray Beach is seeking a P3 for redevelopment of its golf course. The district’s consultant, Miller Legg, will try to broker those deals, which could greatly reduce the public cost.

Wright and Briann Harms, the district’s executive director, will meet with all five city council members before bringing the plan to the full council at a workshop meeting. Harms said City Manager Leif Ahnell preferred that approach. She and Wright met with Monica Mayotte on Monday.

Council members may ask about the golf course, which the district intends as a complement to the city’s layout. It would have a nine-hole, short course and a putting course. “Entertainment golf,” Wright called it.

Then there’s the aquatics center and fieldhouse. Wright hopes that the city will “team up with us,” meaning donate money. Wright said a P3 for that project is unlikely “because you can’t make money off it.”

District board member Craig Ehrnst noted that the city did not retain the pool at Boca Raton Golf & Racquet Club. Wright said that because Boca Raton High School’s swim team could use the facility, the school district might contribute. Ehrnst said the complex could expand options for the Mantas club team that uses the Meadows Park pool.

Another question is reaction from Boca Teeca. Some residents wanted as little development as possible. But that would mean taxpayers subsidizing green space for relatively few people. Wright said the district has tried to keep the most active areas away from homes.

Two new members will join the council after next March’s election. Waiting until then, however, would mean nearly six months of delay. The district wants to have that workshop meeting “as soon as possible,” since it would take 18 months before Phase 1. Wright said, “I think people will be happy.”

Boca Chick-fil-A and arts center back on the agenda after delay

bradec performing arts center
Boca Arts Campus rendering; photo courtesy of Luxigon Los Angeles

Two major items are on the agenda for Wednesday’s Boca Raton City Council meeting after the Sept. 28 meeting was cancelled due to Hurricane Ian.

One is approval of the lease for a performing arts center in Mizner Park. As I reported earlier, The Center for Arts & Innovation (TCAI) and the city have resolved their differences over liability and the staff recommends approval.

A special meeting is scheduled for the council, acting as the community redevelopment agency, to sign off on the lease. The CRA owns the 1.8-acre site. Then the council has scheduled a special meeting to approve the ordinance to implement the lease. TCA&I then can begin major fundraising.

The other item is a project proposed for 2600 North Federal Highway that would include a Chick-fil-A. It would replace a Best Western hotel.

Rendering of proposed project at 2600 N. Federal Highway from RLC Architects

I previously reported that the developer had satisfied residents of the adjoining Harbour East neighborhood that traffic from the restaurant’s drive-through line would not prevent vehicles from entering and leaving the neighborhood. The residents likely will drop their appeal of the planning and zoning board’s approval of the project.

But that approval came with conditions with which the developer disagrees. I have not heard of a compromise with the city on those issues. If there isn’t one, the developer will appeal to the council to drop those conditions.

Boca to consider funds for PGA Champions Tour

Another item would allocate $375,000 toward the 16th PGA Champions Tour—formerly Senior Tour—event to be held in Boca Raton. This year’s version, which begins on Halloween, will be at Royal Palm Yacht & Country Club. The usual site, the Old Course at Broken Sound, is under renovation.

Delray Assistant Attorney on track for judgeship

For the second time in four months, Delray Beach Assistant City Attorney Lawonda Warren is a finalist for a Palm Beach County judgeship.

The judicial nominating commission chose Warren and six others for two openings on the county bench. In June, the commission made Warren a finalist for the higher-level circuit court. Gov. DeSantis promoted Melanie Surber from county court. Her seat is one of the two current vacancies.

Boca police and firefighters collecting supplies for hurricane relief

Boca Raton’s police and firefighter unions are teaming with the city to collect relief supplies for Hurricane Ian’s victims.

Today through Friday, donors may drop supplies at City Hall and the nearby police station. Other locations are the fire stations at 1151 North Federal Highway and 2333 Glades Road.

Donations cannot include water, food or batteries. City officials ask that people choose from this list: socks, moleskins, wipes, neck gators, deodorant, soap, Band-Aids, non-prescription pain relievers, lip balm, bug spray, sunscreen, first aid supplies, toiletries and baby items, including clothes. Diapers always are a big need.

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Randy Schultz
Randy Schultz
Randy Schultz, a native of Hartford, Connecticut, has been a South Florida journalist since 1974. He worked for The Miami Herald until 1976 and for The Palm Beach Post from 1976 until 2014, where he served as managing editor and editorial page editor. Since 2014, he has written a politics blog, commentaries and other articles for Boca magazine. His writing has earned first-place awards from the Florida Magazine Association and the Florida Society of Newspaper Editors. Randy has lived in Boca Raton with his wife, Shelley Huff-Schultz, since 1985. His son, daughter-in-law and their three children also live in Boca Raton.

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