Boca Raton’s office parks become mixed-use projects

Urbanization makes its way to Boca Raton

Sep.September 30, 2016 12:45 PM

A decades-long magnet for corporate headquarters, Boca Raton is now seeing some of its office parks converting to transit-oriented, mixed-use projects. 

Growing traffic congestion and a growing population has led the city to adopt its own transit-oriented zoning called planned mobility developments – a marked change from the large single-family home developments with expansive lawns, and separate, isolated business parks that Boca Raton is known for.

Boca’s PMDs still allow for lower densities and intensities than in more urban cities like Miami, Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach. The first in the city, Boca Village, was approved in June 2013 but expired before anything was developed, Jim Bell, acting deputy director of Boca Raton’s Development Services Department, told The Real Deal.

Next up was 900 Broken Sound, approved in June 2014. When completed, the project will have a 370-apartment complex called 850 Boca, developed by CC Residential, and a 160,000-square-foot office building.

Before it was 900 Broken Sound, it was part of a complex known as the Arvida Park of Commerce, one of the first business parks in Boca Raton, built in 1978. The 700-acre park is now known as the Park at Broken Sound, which is zoned LIRP (light industrial research park) with a PMD overlay. While the underlying industrial zoning still exists, developers can seek approvals for flexible uses allowed by the transit-oriented designation.

Because of the PMD, 980 apartments are under construction at the Park at Broken Sound, and with the office parks, less traffic is expected.

They include:

  • The Altman Companies’ 398-unit Altis
  • On the same parcel as Altis, Schmier and Feurring is a developing a 64,000-square-foot retail center called Park Place.
  • Allure Boca Raton is being developed by James A. Danburg, Jimmy Tate and Sergio Rok and will have 282-units.
  • CC Residential will have 370 units at the 850 Boca development. Phase I of 850 Boca is expected to be delivered next week, Keith O’Donnell, principal, capital markets group at Avison Young in Boca Raton told TRD.

“These companies sometimes bring in employees from out of state to work on short-term projects, so they need alternative housing sources,” Bonnie Miskel, land use attorney and partner at Boca Raton-based Dunay, Miskel and Backman, told TRD.

New uses at the former Arvida Park of Commerce come at a good time for the property, which “struggled with many owners,” said Orin Rosenfeld of Rosenfeld Realty Advisors in Boca Raton. The light industrial zoning limited the kinds of tenants it could accept, he said. Among the uses that were prohibited were medical uses. And, for a long time, tenants had to be regional headquarters, he said. Now, those requirements have been relaxed.

Even the Cornerstone Corporate Center in Plantation is trying to introduce residential into the all-corporate setting. Bill Laystrom, an attorney for the land owner, told the city’s planning and zoning board earlier this month that the owner of the park had been trying to sell two office parcels to developers for 19 years, without a sale taking place.

Whether or not the land appealed to office developers, building apartments and/or retail brings in a greater return on investment than office, Rosenfeld said.

“Land costs are high, so you need a good return,” he told TRD.

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