Crocker Partners withdraws plans and two lawsuits tied to Midtown Boca

Boca-based firm is appealing the court’s ruling in a third lawsuit seeking $137M in damages

Angelo Bianco and a rendering of Midtown Boca (Credit: Patrick McMullan | Getty Images)
Angelo Bianco and a rendering of Midtown Boca (Credit: Patrick McMullan | Getty Images)

Crocker Partners is dropping plans to redevelop the Midtown Boca area in Boca Raton, after a nearly decade-long saga with the city.

The Boca-based firm is one of a handful of developers that planned to build on the 300-acre Midtown Boca site, but now “the coalition has fallen apart due to the city’s obstructionist tactics,” said Angelo Bianco, Crocker’s managing partner.

A spokesperson for the city of Boca Raton said that it is pleased that Crocker Partners has voluntarily dismissed two of three pending lawsuits tied to Midtown Boca. Crocker Partners said it discontinued the two lawsuits because they were directly related to developing Midtown Boca, which it no longer plans to do.

The commercial real estate owner and developer is appealing the court’s ruling in a third lawsuit where it is seeking $137 million in damages. The suit was filed over a year ago under the Bert Harris Act, which provides relief to landowners whose property rights have been abridged by governmental actions.

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“We have always believed that the lawsuits were without merit, and so far, the courts have agreed,” the city of Boca Raton’s spokesperson said.

The litigation stems from approvals dating back to 2010, when the Boca Raton City Council amended Boca Raton’s land-use plan for the Midtown area and directed city staff to write new zoning rules for development. The rezoning would have allowed Crocker Partners and other developers to build a mixed-use project with up to 2,500 residential units on the site. Instead of implementing the zoning rules, the city council voted in early 2018 to develop a “small area plan,” which allegedly prevented Crocker Partners from developing the project.

Other developers that planned to develop Midtown Boca with Crocker Partners include Cypress Real Estate Advisors, Simon Property Group and Seritage Growth Properties.

Bianco said Crocker controls about 65 acres in Midtown Boca and has no immediate plans to sell any properties. In Boca Raton, it owns real estate valued at $750 million, including Boca Center, One Town Center, The Plaza and One Boca Place, according to a release.

Bianco said he expects the appeal process in the lawsuit seeking $137 million in damages to take about six months.