Not everything new is progress. When you want to shame people into accepting something, you label it as progress so they feel guilty if they object. Bigger buildings, and the traffic they cause, are called progress by the developers who want to build them. To the residents of the city, they can be an albatross that will forever hang over their heads.
Chicago in Boca
Aletto Square is one such proposed project. This is a massive three-building project that would dominate over Sanborn Square. The architect, Derek Van der Ploeeg is originally from Chicago and is responsible for Tower 155 down the block. In fact, the developer, who is the same one who brought us Tower 155, recently told a group of residents that it will give us a “Chicago setting” in downtown Boca. Is this really progress? Do we really want Chicago in our downtown?
When you enter Boca Raton on Palmetto Park Rd, it is a vision of small shops, outdoor dining, and walkable streets. Turn the corner onto Sanborn Square and you see the small shops and the park. It looks like the perfect small town for sightseeing. Not Chicago.
Aletto Square would end all that. The project consists of three buildings. A seven-floor, 64,000 sq. ft. office tower, a 12-floor “luxury” apartment building, and a 10-floor (with two of the floors underground) parking garage.
Say goodbye to the last historic old house in downtown
This project spans the entire block from Palmetto Park Rd to East Boca Raton Rd. Along East Boca Raton Rd, it runs from 136 East Boca Raton all the way to NE First Avenue, across from Sanborn Park. Along Palmetto Park Road, it runs from 139 Palmetto Park just short of NE First Ave, leaving a few stores on the corner that the developer was unable to acquire.
Coming down to make room for the project would be the historic house at 136 E Boca Raton Road built in 1925, the last “old Boca” house in downtown. Drive by it if you haven’t seen it.
There will be a two-story rooftop restaurant and bar, and ground floor restaurant, and a swimming pool on top of the parking garage for the apartment residents.
The deal with Traffic
Entrance and exit from the garage will be on the small Boca Raton Road. Deliveries to the complex will be made on the narrow NE First Ave across from Sanborn Park. It might work well in downtown Chicago, but in downtown Boca?
This traffic would also create a pedestrian problem flowing around Sanborn Park, NE First Ave, and East Boca Raton Road. There are no stop signs on NE First Ave that would allow pedestrians to easily cross to and from Sanborn Park. They could certainly put in blinking cross lights, but even on Palmetto Park Road these are commonly ignored by the traffic.
Same Developer as Tower 155
It took the developer five years to complete Tower 155 across the street, so this larger project could cause headaches for residents for many years to come. There is still an unused commercial space in Tower 155, the only retail space in the building, that is supposed to hold a gourmet takeout food shop. It’s been 18 months since Tower 155 opened and the store is still just a shell. The developer says it has been difficult to create the interior.
I oppose this project because I want to keep downtown visually appealing and not have Chicago-style density, and perhaps more empty storefronts.
The morning sun will no longer rise on Sanborn Square. Let’s tell the City of Boca that we want a Boca downtown, not a Chicago one.
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Council Members (left to right): Council Member Yvette Drucker, Deputy Mayor Andrea Levine O’Rourke, Mayor Scott Singer, CRA Chair Monica Mayotte and CRA Vice Chair Andy Thomson