Greg Boan | Associate Broker
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Little Big Town Boca

Little Big Town Boca

Associate Broker, Coldwell Banker Real Estate LLC

Little Boca Raton has come of age and is almost unrecognizable from the small, sleepy town of my teenage years in the late 1960’s. Here are a few nostalgic tidbits for perspective. I-95 did not reach Boca until the mid-1980’s, the main residential roads north and south were US1, A1A and Dixie Highway. Jog Road (Powerline) and Military Trail were primarily farm access roads, however the original Polo Grounds and Polo golf course were located at the corner of Glades Road and Military Trail (both just two lane cinder asphalt roads) where the Boca Bath and Tennis community are located today. Lyons Road was nonexistent in Boca Raton back then and 441 (State Road 7) was a hazardous north, south rural trucking route bordered on both sides by ditches, farm lands and migrant worker camps. Otherwise much of the land west of Military Trail in Boca Raton was wilderness.

What was to be the future FAU campus and Boca Raton Regional Airport was an abandoned WWII Army Air Base where modern radar was jointly developed in partnership with the British RAF. A few remnants of the old runway sections still exist on the FAU campus consisting of huge weed lined slabs of concrete. The airbase then had many personnel bunk houses and workshop buildings encircling the runways and some to the east on NW 20th Street and as far south as Palmetto Park Road. Three of note were opposite the present city hall on Palmetto Park Road and in the sixties housed migrant farm workers during the winter months but a handful of these former military buildings are still in use commercially and on the FAU campus.

We’ve come a long way in 50 years. The population of Boca Raton today is roughly 91,600 compared to approximately 7,500 in 1965. A 12 X increase in population. Of course the city’s annexation of dozens of nearby previously unincorporated Palm Beach County communities have geographically contributed to the explosive size and population of the town. I.E., Boca West, Boca Del Mar and basically everything west of Military Trail was unincorporated prior to the late 1980’s.

Many residents arriving after 1970 may be surprised to learn before there was a Mizner Park, Boca Center or Town Center Mall there was a Boca Mall in the mid 1960’s. It started out with just one department store in the early 1960’s, a Jefferson’s Super Store and later evolved into an open air mall including co-anchor Britt’s Department Store, a movie theater, food court and complimented by boutique retail stores not unlike the modern mall configuration of today but miniature by comparison. It was located on the current site of Mizner Park but was a commercial failure in the wake of the opening of the Pompano Fashion Square which had multiple national and giant anchors such as Sears, JC Penny’s, Lord & Taylor, Burdines, (now Macy’s) etc. The Boca Mall was eventually demolished by the end of the 70’s and there sat an empty field until the early 1980’s when Boca’s visionary downtown development plan was formalized that included Mizner Park which opened in 1991. Fast forward to December 2017 where only 17% of the downtown district remains available for redevelopment. The following projects and others have recently come on line or are pending.

Recently Built Downtown:

The Mark at City Place -9 Plaza Real South, 208 rental apartments, 23,299 SqFt retail/restaurant space

Palmetto Promenade - 349-425 East Palmetto Park Road, 353 rental apartments

Boca City Walk - SE 8th Street, 229 rental apartments

Via Mizner Phase 1 -101 East Camino Real, 366 rental apartments, 19,092 SqFt retail/office/mix use space

Hyatt Place - 120 East Palmetto Park Road, 200 hotel rooms, 8000 SqFt retail/restaurant space

Camden Boca Raton - 131 South Federal Highway, 261 rental apartments

Under Construction Downtown: (as of December 2017)

327 Royal Palm - 327 Royal Palm Road, 24 condo units

Tower 155 - 199 East Boca Raton Road, 170 condo units

Approved - To Be Built:

Via Mizner Phases 2 & 3 - 700-998 South Federal Highway, Mandarin Oriental Hotel, 164 hotel rooms, 85 condo units, 41,706 SqFt retail/restaurant/retail space

Mizner 200 - 200 South East Mizner Boulevard, 384 condo units

375 Royal Palm - 375 East Royal Palm Road, 193 assisted living units

Proposed Downtown:

Royal Palm Place - 101 Plaza Real South 289 rental apartments- 15,716 SqFt retail/restaurant/office space

Camino Square - 171 West Camino Real, 350 rental apartments

Concierge - 22 South East 6th Street, 110 assisted living units

475 Royal Palm - 475 East Royal Palm Road, 48 condo units

The downtown growth has been and continues to be exploding. My parking space calculations, not accounting for transient hotel and restaurant requirements will be 6,270 downtown parking spaces. *A stock tip! Buy “Uber” & “Lift”, their profits will be picking up in downtown Boca.

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