Boca Raton neighbors want to block plan for new apartments near the downtown

BOCA RATON — Richard Rofé favors the tranquility of his Boca Raton neighborhood near the Intracoastal Waterway and worries that a new four-story apartment building, equipped with a mechanical lift parking garage, would spoil the scenic views.

He’s among the neighbors opposed to the rezoning proposal, which calls for putting the apartment building on land where single-family homes were supposed to go, at 450 and 468 E. Royal Palm Road. Rofé, a retiree who lives in Mizner Village with his wife, thinks it’s going to “negatively affect the quality of life for residents in the community.”

The plan is tied to Boca’s largest commercial landowners, James Batmasian and his wife, Marta Batmasian. It calls for a 50-foot-high, seven-unit multifamily building near Mizner Boulevard in an area that has seen rapid development over the past two years.

In an application to the city, Royal Palm Road Investments LLC, a company owned by the Batmasians, is looking to rezone the parcels of land. Attempts by the South Florida Sun Sentinel to contact a representative for the plan weren’t successful.

The current zoning for the vacant land is for low residential or single-family homes, which allow for buildings under 35 feet in height and no more than three units per acre. Batmasian is asking for the city to rezone the half-acre property to allow for greater density and a taller building.

The current plan for the building calls for four stories and seven units. The residential units would range from 1,981 square feet to 2,799 square feet. The first floor would have a welcome lobby, gym and pool area and one housing unit. Each remaining floor would have two units on it.

A rendering from the city of Boca Raton of a potential four-story, seven-unit building to be constructed near Mizner Boulevard. (City of Boca Raton)

A parking garage would have 17 total spaces, with 14 of them using a mechanical lift, something the developer also would need the city to grant an exception, because mechanical parking garages are technically only allowed in the downtown area.

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In arguing for the city to approve rezoning and future land use, the application argues that other buildings in the area surrounding the land are taller and offer more density, and to keep the land use at single-family homes would keep it as an “anomaly” in an area with greater density than its own.

Allowing greater density would “remedy this and create a more balanced level of growth,” an application submitted to the city reads.

Boca Raton has seen an uptick in high-rise residential projects, with over 1,000 units still in development.

RELATED: Boca Raton awaits new high-rises, condos and more. How the downtown boom is still surging. ]

As Boca’s largest commercial landowners, the Batmasians have been involved with the Royal Palm Place shopping center in downtown Boca Raton, with properties owned through their company spanning across South Florida and in the northeast.

Rofé said that he and his wife bought in with the understanding that they would be able to see the golf course from their unit, and Guy Fronstin, a criminal defense attorney, purchased his unit for the ability to see the pink tower at the Boca Raton.

“There are dozens, if not hundreds of homeowners in the area who have relied on that property being zoned for single-family homes,” he said, adding that changing the zoning would affect the overall look and feel of the neighborhood.

Both plan on attending upcoming city meetings on the project. The project hasn’t gone before any city boards yet, as it’s still in its second review cycle. Once the review is done, it should go before the Planning and Zoning Board for possible recommendation to the City Council.

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