The shortest building would be 23 stories. And the tallest, at 30 stories, would rise above every other building in the city.
The developer of New Mizner on the Green submitted new plans for its 500-unit “ultra-luxury” project on Tuesday, presenting the rationale for why Boca Raton should allow it to ascend to heights never before reached in the city.
Why is it necessary to build so high? Because the view of the Boca Raton Golf Club, beaches and the ocean would be magnificent from any of these heights.
“It’s those views that are going to attract affluent homeowners to downtown Boca Raton,” said William Shewalter, senior executive officer for Plantation-based ELAD National Properties, a real estate development company.
A 2-acre public park, more disposable income to support Boca’s downtown businesses and more city revenue in taxes and permit fees are among Shewalter’s selling points.
“We believe this is the right site, the right point in time, for this project in Boca Raton,” he said.
The height of the tallest building would make it slightly taller than the city’s current tallest building, the Boca Raton Resort & Club, situated less than a mile away.
And it would be just a few feet shorter than the Trump Plaza in West Palm Beach, the tallest building countywide.
New Mizner would be built on 8.7 acres at 200 SE Mizner Blvd., where 244 townhouses would be knocked down to accommodate it. Going taller would give the public a park along Mizner Boulevard, a prime downtown location.
“It’s going to have walkways throughout the project, seating areas and sculpture,” Shewalter said.
Before the project embarks on what would be a 5-year building schedule, it faces a longer journey in front of city officials than most projects.
In addition to passing muster with the city’s Community Appearance Board, Planning and Zoning Board and City Council, an ordinance loosening height restrictions needs to get the City Council’s approval.
Traditionally, downtown building heights in Boca have been limited to 100 feet. New Mizner would be more than triple that height.
Two other projects now under construction, though, met certain conditions and will be allowed to rise 160 feet, including 20 feet for architectural flourishes at the top.
Boca Raton City Councilman Robert Weinroth said the 20 emails he has gotten about New Mizner are split between supporters and detractors. And those against the plan are adamant.
“I don’t think Boca is ready to embrace a project of this magnitude, and I question whether it ever will be,” Weinroth said.
“It’s good for us to wait and see how the development we’ve already approved looks,” he said, referring to the 1,702 downtown residences being built, excluding New Mizner.
Still, Shewalter has some enticing projections for what building New Mizner would mean: $12 million in city permit fees, $28 million that condo dwellers would pump into local businesses, an additional $12.2 million in additional taxes for the city and county schools.
He said it also would significantly increase downtown Boca’s taxable value, which could mean money for civic improvements, including a long-desired parking garage, mass transit improvements and beautification efforts.
Also, there are plenty of big names associated with the project.
Its designer is architect Daniel Libeskind, whose resume includes the Freedom Tower in New York City and the Jewish Museum Berlin.
The architectural firm working under him is the same firm that designed One Thousand Ocean in Boca, a luxury condo development that sold out last November after racking up $251 million in sales.
And ELAD National is part of El-Ad Group, a development company that has done projects all around the world, including the redevelopment of high-profile buildings, such as the Plaza Hotel in both New York City and Las Vegas.
Pierre Samaha, owner of Salon Pierre & Co., a downtown hair salon, said he is excited about the New Mizner proposal.
“Downtown Boca has been dormant for many years and having these luxury apartments, retail stores and banks … is going to bring a lot of young people, intelligent consumers downtown,” he said. “We need some of that young crowd that goes out and spends money in Delray.”
Charlie Helton, a longtime resident of Boca, said he’ll never be convinced that allowing taller buildings in downtown Boca is in the public’s interest. He cited other cities that have tall buildings, but higher tax rates than Boca.
“If crowding your downtown with 30-story buildings is beneficial to the community, why doesn’t Fort Lauderdale have a lower tax rate?” said the retired IBM Corp. worker.