A new Mizner Park Amphitheater? You’ll see many changes for downtown events

BOCA RATON — One of Boca Raton’s largest attractions could get a new canopy to keep concertgoers in the shade as part of a $100 million overhaul. A new indoor event venue would rise on an adjacent lot, and a new rooftop terrace and 99-seat performance hall would add to the downtown festivities.

The city this week embraced a vision for the Mizner Park Amphitheater, unveiling new features that are expected in the years to come. When all is done, the entire site would accommodate about 6,000 attendees. A 294-space parking garage would alleviate overcrowding.

Construction would finish in 2025, during the city’s 100-year anniversary, and an official opening date could come the following year.

The Boca Raton Arts District Exploratory Corporation, a group that consists of representatives in the arts, business, construction and real estate worlds, plans to pump about $100 million into the amphitheater, completely redesigning it with an emphasis on being able to accommodate a wide variety of events.

The group is led by ballerina-turned-real estate design engineer Andrea Virgin and an advisory board, with leaders from the Boca Raton Resort and Club, Boca Ballet Theatre, Mizner Park Cultural Center, Boca Raton Museum of Art and other organizations.

“We’re thrilled,” Virgin said, in response to being chosen by the city this week to lead the redevelopment effort. “We are very excited to take this next step with the city.”

The current amphitheater is outdated and in need of renovations, officials say. Once complete, the destination will be able to host indoor and outdoor musical and other arts performances, but also art galleries, lectures, business events and more.

Virgin cited academic and think-tank summits, fashion shows, career fairs, consumer product launches, political debates and more. Plans for the venue include retractable seating, to allow for a flat, level ground for walking, concert-style seating or other configurations.

“Anything that the imagination can come up with can be accommodated here,” she said.

During the process, there will be a focus on fundraising and reaching out to local schools to foster relationships in arts education.

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“Whether it’s day or night, weekday or weekend, we want people to be able to come here whether it’s for an event or not,” Virgin said. “There’s going to be a lot of focus on accessibility because the arts has this misconception of being elitist and exclusionary […] and that’s no way of growing the art form.”

City officials, including Mayor Scott Singer, were adamant that the city would need to still be able to host public events at the venue.

The group estimates about $100 million in capital costs such as construction, and another $20 million for an endowment and reserve.

They have raised about $2 million, Virgin said. Most of their fundraising efforts won’t begin until specific plans are approved by the city. The group is looking for local philanthropists, partner organizations, corporations and other donors to raise the necessary funds.

The next step is to finalize some fine points of a ground lease, which she said could take a few months. They hope to submit a plan to planning and zoning officials in August and to the City Council in September.

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