An open letter to Boca Raton's City Council

Last August, after a lengthy battle, the developer of the mammoth Mizner 200 project in downtown Boca, agreed to significant design concessions. Major sight lines were included, as was a green space border between the building (now called The Monarch) and its southernmost neighbor Townsend Place. There were also significant steps to make the enormous building more “Mizneresque.”

As a result of these concessions, Elad’s major opponents BocaBeautiful.org, Townsend Place and Investments Limited urged the CRA to approve the project. This the CRA did by a vote of 5-0.

ELAD’S CONCESSIONS WERE KEY TO THE OUTCOME OF THIS VOTE. WITHOUT THEM, THE PROJECT MOST LIKELY WOULD NOT HAVE BEEN APPROVED.

A rendering of the planned luxury condominium complex at at 200 Southeast Mizner Boulevard, formerly known as Mizner 200 but re-branded The Monarch Boca Raton. Demolition began to make way for the project in January.  (© Palm Beach Post)

A rendering of the planned luxury condominium complex at at 200 Southeast Mizner Boulevard, formerly known as Mizner 200 but re-branded The Monarch Boca Raton. Demolition began to make way for the project in January. (© Palm Beach Post)

Now we learn that Elad is coming to City staff and eventually to you, asking for important changes to the deal. First, they want an amendment to Ordinance 4035 governing how the height of a building is measured. The purpose of this amendment is simple: it would allow them to increase the total square footage of the already massive structure. What happened to all those promises that the building was fully compatible with the metric requirements of 4035?  Maybe it was, but now Elad wants those requirements changed.

More importantly, Mizner 200 (now The Monarch) was presented approved as a single building.  All of the design elements and amenities such as open space, were geared to that compromise single building design. Now Elad is asking City staff and eventually you for permission to build the building in “stages,” i.e. to build a stand-alone building (the “North Tower”) first and the rest of the structure at a later date—if ever. What they are really asking for is permission to build a stand-alone building which looks remarkably like the unremarkable Mark, see how it sells, and then decide what to do with the rest of the property later.

IF THEY WANT TO BUILD TODAY’S VERSION OF THE MARK, THEY SHOULD HAVE ASKED TO DO SO BACK IN AUGUST. THIS IS NOT WHAT THE CRA APPROVED.

IF THEY WANT TO BUILD A TOTALLY DIFFERENT PROJECT, THEY SHOULD START THE APPROVAL PROCESS—AND NEGOTIATIONS WITH THEIR NEIGHBORS—ANEW.

Elad is not demonstrating good faith. They are changing much more than just the name of the building. They are not keeping their promises to their neighbors or to the CRA. 

We urge you to reject their appeals for changes to their August agreement.  Build what we agreed to and the CRA approved or reapply. Your decision on this will be a clear indication whether politics in Boca have indeed changed for the better.

The Board of Directors
BocaBeautiful.org

Status Report on Mizner 200—Now called "The Monarch"

There have been significant developments since the City Council gave preliminary approval last August to Elad for construction of a more neighbor-friendly building on SE Mizner Boulevard, next door to Royal Palm Plaza and Townsend Place. It is still three blocks long and 100+ feet high, but the developer agreed to important set backs, green spaces and design improvements. 

Elad, the developer, is now asking the City for major changes which effectively abrogate the deal it made with Investments Limited, BocaBeautiful.org and Townsend Place.  

We have seen this play before: a developer wins approval of a project based on detailed drawings only to come back and ask for significant changes once preliminary approval has been granted. This is how Tower 155 (just up the street at Palmetto) managed to put a 2-acre project on just 1.5 acres. It’s so close to the property line, they can’t even build it without closing off adjacent streets and our Post Office.

Elad is now asking that Boca’s basic downtown construction ordinance, Ordinance 4035, be amended to allow it to build the building higher. More importantly, it is asking to be allowed to build the building in STAGES.

Why is this important to Boca Raton residents?  

First, Elad swore up and down that its project was in full compliance with the metric requirements of Ordinance 4035. Now it wants to change the law to allow measurement of the height of the building from the highest point on the property and special treatment for its rooftop pool “and amenities.” Why didn’t they ask for this back in August when we thought we had a deal?

Second, by asking to build the building in stages, Elad is effectively proposing an entirely new project. They want to build only the north portion of the building first, leaving the now semi-derelict Mizner On The Green townhouses in place until enough Monarch units have been sold to finance the rest of the building. The catch here is that most of the public amenities we demanded for the project are located on the southernportion of the property, the portion that borders Townsend Place. So they get to build a building which looks a lot like The Mark, and the neighbors get nothing—not even a guarantee that Elad will complete the Monarch as originally approved.

This is bait-and-switch Boca style. Why the change of strategy by Elad? Either they were lying to us all along, and/or they are getting cold feet about the economic viability of their massive project.  

We all know they overpaid for the land when they bought Mizner On The Green before the 2008 crash. They have been trying to recoup their investment ever since, starting with their proposal for two 30+ story high rises on the property. Now comes the staged construction gambit, where they get to build part of a building and we get left with the mess if things don’t work out financially. If Elad wants to build something different than what was approved by the CRA last August, they should start the approval process all over again.

As a concerned Boca Raton resident, what can you do about all this? 

First, you should send  a strong letter to the City Council opposing Elad’s proposed changes. You should communicate your personal opposition directly to Council Members:  

Second, you can send a contribution to BocaBeautiful.org to help us carry on the fight.
There are two ways to do this:

  1. On line at www.bocabeautiful.org/donations/ or
  2. By mail to BocaBeautiful
    233 S. Federal Highway, Apt. 721
    Boca Raton, FL 33432

Our financial resources are limited, especially compared to the money that Elad is spending to get its way.

BocaBeautiful.org has two missions in 2018: to save our downtown post office from closing and to prevent the construction of something truly ugly on SE Mizner Boulevard. We need your help to accomplish both.