Apparently, Mizner 200 hit a snag, and then suddenly got unsnagged
The 384-unit condo project across from Royal Palm Place has already had two advisory hearings before the Boca Raton Community Appearance Board, which recommended design changes. No formal appearance before the board has been set.
In a draft report sent on March 17, however, the city’s design consultant found that Mizner 200 “as currently proposed, does not fully satisfy the design standards included in Ordinance 4035,” the document that governs downtown development. The Mellgren Planning Group, of Fort Lauderdale, compiled the two-part report.
Downtown applicants must undergo a review of items contained in Ordinance 4035. Even before this report, there was general agreement that Mizner 200 complied with many of them. The project does not exceed the nine-story, 100-foot height limits for the area. It meets and sometimes exceeds requirements for setbacks, parking, landscaping, lighting and open space. The exterior is just 34 percent glass; the maximum allowed is 40 percent.
The issue with Mizner 200 has been design—specifically compliance with additions made to Ordinance 4035 since the city adopted it a quarter-century ago. One requirement is for an Addison Mizner-style design, which the Mellgren report said “should be easily distinguishable throughout the development.”
The draft report found “two primary concerns with this project. The first is the limited demonstration of Mizner-esque qualities. The specific application of Mizner design can vary, but in general Addison Mizner envisioned Boca Raton as an architectural playground with charm and character. While the ordinance does allow for a modern interpretation of Mizner design, it is (our) professional opinion. . .that this project should further enhance the existing architectural embellishments through additional changes in color and material and consider further articulation in the spirit of Mizner design. These changes will accentuate the Mizner character and positively contribute to the overall design.”
Mizner 200’s critics have focused on the fact that the condo would stretch for roughly 900 feet on Southeast Mizner Boulevard as essentially one building. The revised design makes the project more open and inviting, but not enough to satisfy Mellgren in that March 17 report.
“The second concern,” the report said, “is the development’s visually substantial scale and mass, which reduces the project’s contextual awareness, human scaled design, and pedestrian-oriented design.” Translation: The project overwhelms the site.
Because Mizner 200 has little variation within its design components, Mellgren said, the result is “a linear and horizontally redundant building.” The architect should break up the facades “to reduce the vast appearance of this continuous development.” The roof line “should be further vertically articulated to avoid the overall appearance of a flat roof.” The building uses three paint colors and two body materials.
“The lack of easily distinguishable changes in material and color,” the Mellgren report added, “contributes to the perceived mass.” Mellgren recommended that the rear of Mizner 200 have as much “articulation”—variation—as the front, because the project would back up to the Boca Raton Resort & Club golf course.
Finally, Mellgren said the scale of Mizner 200’s facades “is not sensitive to the pedestrian realm.” Here again, the report recommends articulation give the project more of a human scale. “The additional embellishments should be representative of Mizner design qualities.”
Mellgren replaced Pittsburgh-based Urban Design Associates, which fell out of favor after general unhappiness with the appearance of the Mark at Cityscape. UDA had reviewed that project, the first to obtain approval under Amendment 5052. Though the recommendation on Mizner 200 is advisory only to the community appearance board and city council, Mayor Susan Haynie told me that the report is “important guidance.”
Late Monday, however, a city spokeswoman told me that after the draft report, Mizner 200 representatives met with Mellgren. They brought a three-dimensional version of the project, the spokeswoman said, that addressed the consultant’s criticism. The spokeswoman said a new report from Mellgren would find the project to be in compliance with Ordinance 4035. I sought comment from the project’s architects but did not hear back by deadline for this post.
Deputy mayor no longer shoe-in in case of a mayoral vacancy
Before last August, the choice of deputy mayor in Boca Raton at last Friday’s organizational city council meeting would have been a big deal.
Last month, Susan Haynie won her second term as mayor. But she may decide to leave early and run for the Palm Beach County Commission next year, when Steven Abrams —also a former Boca Raton mayor—is term-limited in District 4.
If that happens, and if Haynie wins, the city will hold a special election in March 2019 to fill the mayor’s term until March 2020. Boca Raton otherwise has no election scheduled for 2019. Previously, the deputy mayor would have taken over as mayor and served until the term expired. Voters changed the rule last year by approving an ordinance proposed by Councilman Scott Singer, who had considered challenging Haynie before choosing to seek re-election in Seat A. He easily defeated his challenger.
Without the drama, the council chose Jeremy Rodgers to succeed the term-limited Mike Mullaugh as deputy mayor. Rodgers is up for re-election next March. Singer will continue his role as chairman of the community redevelopment agency, which oversees downtown. The council acts as the CRA. Traditionally, however, the mayor has not been the CRA chairman. Newly elected Andrea O’Rourke will be vice-chairman.
Delray commission newcomers
Mitch Katz and Shelly Petrolia said all the right things during last Thursday’s organizational meeting of the Delray Beach City Commission.
Katz and Petrolia campaigned against Jim Chard and Shirley Johnson, who won seats 2 and 4, respectively. Petrolia’s husband also donated to candidates who ran against Chard and Johnson. Yet Chard and Johnson each won by nearly 30 points—Chard in a four-way race. Glickstein favored the winners.
After the swearing-in, Katz and Petrolia welcomed the newcomers and pledged their cooperation. It became clear quickly, though, how different this commission alignment is from the one Katz and Pertolia hoped to create. Glickstein, Chard and Johnson immediately filled the ceremonial posts of vice mayor and deputy vice mayor with Chard and Johnson.
Award could validate Delray’s efforts to improve school readiness, reading levels
Delray Beach is a finalist for what would be its third All-America City award. The city would be the first in Florida to receive the award for the third time
Delray previously won the award in 1993 and 2001. That first campaign was part of Delray’s early efforts at redevelopment and changing the city’s image. The application to the National Civic League, which presents the award, is extensive and continually upgraded.
This year, for example, one new category is how cities perform as part of the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading. Winners must have made “measureable progress” for low-income children on school readiness and attendance and summer learning, in addition to helping those children read at or above grade level.
Almost every Delray Beach commission meeting includes a presentation to recognize the successes of at-risk children and those who help them. Glickstein said in an email that if the city wins again, Delray Beach’s work in that area will make the difference. The city’s competitors include Denver, Salt Lake City and Portland, Ore., but Glickstein said, “I think we have a great shot.”
Ocean Palm update
Ocean Palm, which the Boca Raton Planning and Zoning Board unanimously approved, is scheduled to go before the city council at the April 19 meeting. The 70-unit condo would displace a 20-unit condo and commercial building at Palmetto Park Road and A1A.
That April 19 meeting also will include discussion of Mayor Haynie’s proposed ordinance to phase out the 5 a.m. closing for Blue Martini and Nipper’s.
At last week’s workshop meeting, council members heard from employees of both bars. They can serve alcohol past the otherwise citywide 2 a.m. last call because they are in the area the city annexed from the county, which allows the later closing. Haynie said the city did not grant the change in perpetuity, and that noise and police calls at Blue Martini have become chronic and problematic.
Employees argue that the bars serve those who work other late-night jobs and want to relax before going home. That argument seems unlikely to sway Haynie, but the full council will make the decision.