More details have emerged on where Virgin Trains USA plans to open additional South Florida stations, with a possible land-lease between the city of Boca Raton and the high-speed rail company becoming an option.
The high-speed rail service is proposing a mixed-use station in Boca Raton with retail space and apartments, according to the Palm Beach Post. That project would require the city to sell or lease the land next to its library to Virgin Trains, or would require an amendment to the city’s comprehensive plan and the passage of a development agreement.
Virgin Trains floated the idea at a Boca Raton City Council meeting on Monday, the Palm Beach Post reported. The station would take up more than half of the city’s library property, which is just west of the railroad tracks. The library, built in 2013, sits on a 6.9-acre lot at 400 Northwest Second Avenue. As proposed, the building itself would remain, and the station would be built on a parking lot.
Patrick Goddard, president of Virgin Trains USA, has proposed that Virgin Trains would pay to build the train station, and the city could contribute the land, pay for a parking garage and elevated pedestrian bridge over Dixie Highway.
Virgin Trains, previously known as Brightline, launched in 2018 in downtown Miami, Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach, with mixed-use projects that include apartments, retail and office. In April, Virgin Trains closed a $1.75 billion private-activity bond issue to fund an expansion to Orlando.
In a monthly ridership report to bondholders, the company said the new stations could generate more than 2 million additional annual trips along the rail system. [Palm Beach Post] — Katherine Kallergis