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It takes a Village. Actually a Beach Mob.

by Jessica Gray

Developed coasts change the natural beach processes and we have all seen that once beach development begins, more follows. Every building alters the dune ecosystem. Unfortunately, almost all of Florida’s beaches are disappearing due to development. Our state has what is called a CCCL. The Coastal Construction Control Line (CCCL) regulates structures and activities which cause beach erosion, destabilize dunes, damage upland properties, or interfere with public access. CCCL regulation is also designed to protect sea turtles and dune plants. 

The City of Boca Raton adopted a CCCL law in 1981 stating “Seaward of the established coastal construction control line no person shall: (a) Construct any structure whatsoever”. Meaning, no buildings should be built on the beach.

What Happened at City Hall

Watch Time 3:39. Resident cross examines attorney for applicant. Excerpt from 3:11:52 of Feb 22 2019 City Council meeting.

On February 26, 2019, Developer Azure and owner GRAND BANK NATL ASSN asked to change that rule to allow a private 4 story duplex on the protected beaches of Boca Raton. Note, this unbuildable lot was bought as unbuildable and the owners were aware of the property’s restrictions regarding building. The excerpt here from the 3:11:52 mark in the city video shows that all related parties to 2600 N Ocean were aware that their acquired investment was indeed unbuildable.  

During the City Council hearing on February 26th, parties of Azure Development LLC, asked the City of Boca Raton to approve a monstrous glass structure or cough up $7M of taxpayer money to cover what the owners think the unbuildable property is worth. 

What the owner of 2600 N. Ocean Blvd thinks the property is worth.

Where Did the $7M Figure Come From?

You may be wondering, how in the world did the private property owners come up with $7M for an environmentally protected lot? Here’s how: The City’s Beach and Parks department performed an appraisal in 2018 which found that 2600 N Ocean was worth $7M plus. After some research, the $7M price tag assumes that 2600 N Ocean can be built on. “At our Client’s request, our Market Value estimate was based on the Extraordinary Assumption that the necessary variances are achievable and that the Subject Property is a buildable lot.”

The 2/26/19 City Council hearing established that this ‘extraordinary assumption’ is not met. Since the appraisal is contingent on this, the appraisal does not tell us anything at all, certainly not that the lot is worth $7 million. Additionally, take note of the dotted line in the image below. This represents the boundary line of the City of Boca Raton. In Boca Raton there is only one dot on the beach – 2600 N Ocean, because we have a CCCL law. The rest of the comparable lots are located in Highland Beach and the City of Delray Beach. These two cities have a more flexible CCCL. How can we compare an unbuildable lot in Boca to a buildable lot in another city? We cannot.

Pricing of the Boca Property assumed Boca would grant a variance and used “Comps” in Highland Beach and Delray Beach.

The Lot Sold in 2011 for $100?

The owners of 2600 N Ocean Blvd. acquired this lot in foreclosure from Gregory Talbot in 2011 for a mere $100. That investment came with two airplane hangars at the Boca Raton Airport. Since the land was in foreclosure, we will never know the exact amount the parcels were acquired for. 

One can assume that the sale price was discounted for beachfront property in Boca Raton because the property is unbuildable due the City’s CCCL law. For the same reason, in 2018, the most recent tax year 2600 N Ocean was appraised at $150K.

 After a 3+ hour hearing of “the most turtle friendly building in the State of Florida,” argued by attorney Mr. Sweetapple, the City Council voted 5:0 in favor of NOT building the Boca Beach House. City consultants, City Staff, and the City’s Environmental Advisory Board agreed that the applicant failed to satisfy criteria needed to build on an environmentally protected area. 

Stay tuned for more updates!

To view the full video, visit the city video page and start at 41:17

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