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You Can’t Always Get What You Want

by Jim Wood

This article examines the current state of multi-family, residential building architecture regulation in Boca Raton’s downtown. The land area discussed is shown in the following drawing.

CRA Outline


Proposed developments in the downtown area of Boca Raton currently have two key options regarding building design regulation. The first set of regulations were adopted in October, 1992 after a majority vote by the residents in a referendum. This is commonly referred to as Ordinance 4035. 

In November, 2008, Ordinance 4035 was amended to include an alternative set of building design regulations, called Interim Design Guidelines (IDG). These regulations were intended to improve the visual appeal of buildings in the downtown area. The focus of the changes is from the viewpoint of a pedestrian looking at the exterior of the buildings. The IDG regulations also provide options for increasing the maximum building height from 100’ to 140’ (160’ to allow for rooftop utility equipment.)

The first building designed under IDG was The Mark. The plan called for a formal evaluation of The Mark as a test case after construction was completed. The results of the evaluation were presented to the city on April 30, 2015. The consensus among residents was that the building did not meet the goals of the IDG. The expectation was that the building would also contain features of Addison Mizner’s architecture style.

At the meeting it was stated that there were three additional building test cases to be evaluated and the results of all four evaluations were to be used to improve the IDG. The three additional test cases were identified as the Hyatt hotel, the Via Mizner apartments and the Palmetto Park Promenade apartments. 

Current State of Test Case Buildings

It is over five years since The Mark evaluation and all four test case buildings are now complete. 

Note that the developers of the Palmetto Park Promenade apartment project decided to use Ordinance 4035 instead of the IDG as the design standard. Tower 155, however, was designed with IDG regulations so it could be the fourth IDG test case, with Palmetto Park Promenade serving as an evaluation comparison.

Following are addresses and pics of the five buildings discussed above. We tried to take the pics from a pedestrian perspective, but readers are encouraged to visit the buildings as pedestrians to draw your own conclusions regarding the designs.

The Mark 9 – Plaza Real S, Boca Raton, FL 33432 (photo courtesy of Joe Graubart)
Hyatt Hotel – 100 E Palmetto Park Rd, Boca Raton, FL 33432 (photo courtesy of Joe Graubart)
Via Mizner – 101 E Camino Real, Boca Raton, FL 33432 (photo courtesy of Joe Graubart)
Tower 155 – 155 E Boca Raton Rd, Boca Raton, FL 33432 (photo courtesy of Joe Graubart)
Palmetto Promenade – 333 E Palmetto Park Rd, Boca Raton, FL 33432 (photo courtesy of Joe Graubart)


A formal evaluation of the IDG as represented by the test case building designs is supposed to be completed by the city so lessons learned can be used to improve future building designs in the downtown. This should be completed before any more downtown buildings are approved with the Interim Design Guidelines.

We need to do better!

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