The Real Deal Miami

Time runs out for Boca Raton: Crocker Partners moves ahead with lawsuit over Midtown Boca project

Developer is seeking $137M in damages
By Keith Larsen | September 14, 2018 05:00PM

Rendering of Midtown Boca and Angelo Bianco, Crocker Partners’ managing partner

Crocker Partners can now move forward with a lawsuit seeking $137 million in damages against the city of Boca Raton over its planned Midtown Boca project.

In April, the developer said it would file a lawsuit under the Bert Harris Act, which requires a 150-day period before a lawsuit can be filed. Last week, that 150-day time period ran out, and the developer said the city did not try resolve any of its claims with the Boca Raton developer. The Bert Harris Act provides relief to landowners whose property rights have been abridged by governmental actions.

Crocker Partners can begin with the discovery phase, and plans to file the suit in Palm Beach Circuit Court in the next four to six weeks, according to Angelo Bianco, Crocker Partners’ managing partner.

The suit is a part of the ongoing saga between the city and Crocker Partners that dates back to 2010, when the city council amended Boca Raton’s land-use plan for the 300-acre area and directed city staff to write new zoning rules for development there.

The rezoning would allow Crocker Partners and other developers to build a mixed-use project with up to 2,500 residential units on the site, which is just east of the Town Center shopping mall. But the zoning still has not been implemented.

In January of this year, the city council then voted to develop a “small area plan,” which prevented Crocker Partners from developing the project.

In May, a month after Crocker Partners notified the city of its intent to sue under the Bert Harris Act, the developer filed a separate lawsuit against the city to move forward with the rezoning without any damages. The court recently denied the city’s motion to dismiss the May lawsuit.

The city of Boca Raton declined to comment through a spokesperson.