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With fewer buyers and sellers, market loses a little sizzle

Related stories: Homes sales fetch high prices despite slowdown in volume after pandemic |Property values increase at slower rate, but still chug along

By Rich Pollack

Snowbirds Stu and Lisa Cantor enjoyed the Highland Beach condo they rented for almost a decade.

So it wasn’t surprising that when the unit in the Boca Highland Beach Club and Marina community became available, they jumped at the opportunity to buy it.

“We really liked where we were and we liked being there,” said Stu Cantor, 71, who still has a home on Long Island in New York. “We had built up friendships and we really wanted to stay.”

The Cantors are among the many luxury condo buyers who still wanted to own along Palm Beach County’s southern coast, where the market is showing signs of slowing as homes in general stay on the market a little longer and the number of months of inventory supply increases.

Despite a tightening market and factors such as higher homeowner association fees and assessments, as well as higher interest rates, condos are still selling — just not as fast — and prices for premier units in high-end buildings often continue to climb, according to local real estate agents.

“People are still coming to Florida,” says Mark Hansen, a real estate agent with Coldwell Banker who specializes in luxury condos in coastal Palm Beach County and who is on the board of the Beach Condo Association of Boca Raton, Highland Beach and Delray Beach.

In Highland Beach, for example, the number of condo and townhome sales over $1 million increased by about 8% during the first five months of 2024 compared to a year earlier, with 27 units sold, according to the Florida Realtors association.

One of the highest-priced condos in Highland Beach was a three-bedroom, 3.5-bath, 2,842-square-foot unit in the Toscana community that sold for $4 million in August 2023, according to Redfin, a Seattle-based real estate firm that tracks sales.

In Boca Raton, 95 condos and townhouses sold in the first five months of this year for over $1 million, an increase of 44% from the same time period last year, according to Florida Realtors.

A 9-bedroom, 8.5-bath condo just shy of 7,500 square feet at Boca Raton’s 1000 South Ocean sold in November for $13.6 million, according to Redfin.

In Delray Beach, condo and townhouse sales seem to have stayed flat, with the number of those over $1 million — 60 units — slipping by just under 5%, Florida Realtors said.

In May, a three-bedroom, three-bath Delray Beach condo with an Intracoastal Waterway view sold for $3.2 million, according to Redfin.

In South Palm Beach two condos sold for over $1 million in the first five months of 2024, down from five during the same period last year.

A 2,800-square-foot condo on the ocean sold in December for just over $3 million.

As the market softens, inventory is slowly increasing but remains tight in part because of uncertainty that is causing sellers to step back.
Hansen said he’s had clients — both buyers and sellers — who have been talking to him for a year and a half but have yet to make a decision on moving.

“They say they decided to stay put,” he said.

The number of baby boomers living in condos is also a factor in keeping the inventory tight.

“Baby boomers are holding tight,” says Marie Caradonna, a luxury waterfront property specialist with Coldwell Banker’s Delray Beach office. “They’re just not selling.”

In some cases, Caradonna says, condo owners are choosing to rent their units out rather than sell, with some rents going anywhere from $7,000 to $12,000 or more a month.
Jackie Feldman, a luxury estate agent with One Sotheby’s International Realty in Boca Raton, says there are three key reasons why inventory is growing.

“Properties are not moving as quickly as they were due to high interest rates, increased assessments and HOA fees, and because it’s an election year,” she said. “I’ve had so many people say they’re going to wait until after the election.”

A change in the economy, Feldman says, has a bigger impact on condo sales than on single-family home sales.

“When the economy is tight, the condo market is the first to slow down because of fees,” she said.

HOA fees and special assessments can keep buyers away, she said.

Dramatically increasing HOA fees as well as recent large assessments coming as a result of rising insurance costs and building recertifications have been a factor in a slowdown of condo sales, real estate agents say.

Assessments and condo fees are driving some condo owners to move to single-family homes, Feldman said, but at the same time there are many single-family home owners buying condos who are not put off by the fees.

“I have people who only want the concierge aspect of a condo,” she said.

While there are estimates that close to 90% of luxury condo sales are cash deals, Feldman says she is seeing more new buyers taking out loans and mortgages, especially on the higher end.

“They want their money working for them,” she said. “They’re getting a better return on their investment.”

While condos throughout Palm Beach County’s southern coast are generally staying on the market longer, some are scooped up within days of being listed.

Then there are some that are sold directly from seller to buyer and never get listed at all.

Recently completely remodeled units in higher-end buildings — those with beach clubs, for example — are at a premium, according to Caradonna.
“They fall off the market quickly,” she said.

Caradonna said she recently sold a condo in Highland Beach’s Coronado for $1.375 million in just two days to a younger couple from the Northeast.

That ninth-floor unit, she said, has a direct ocean view, was completely remodeled and had all the “bells and whistles.”

The seller of that unit actually stayed in the building, buying one of the few condos in Coronado with a double balcony directly from the seller, who moved north without the property being listed.

“It was her dream place,” Caradonna said.

That sale illustrates a scenario that plays out often in high-end condos where an older resident decides to sell in order to be closer to family — or in some cases the resident dies — and the buyer is a baby boomer within the condo building who doesn’t want to leave.

“Direct sales happen because condos are a community where word travels fast,” Feldman said.

Caradonna’s seller wanted to stay in the condo community where she was most comfortable just like the Cantors, the snowbirds who bought the condo in Boca Highland Beach Club and Marina.

“We really like it there,” Stu Cantor said.

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12686765078?profile=RESIZE_710xFamily and friends toast the memory of Jacob Kosowsky during a private celebration of Jacob’s Outlook — the new observation tower within Gumbo Limbo Nature Center in Boca Raton. Photos by Tim Stepien/The Coastal Star

By Steve Plunkett

In a combination outdoor lawn party/celebration of life, the family of Jacob Kosowsky dedicated the opening of Gumbo Limbo Nature Center’s rebuilt observation tower after its dispiriting nine-year absence.

The tower is now called “Jacob’s Outlook” after parents Sharilyn Jones and Stephen Kosowsky donated $250,000 to rebuild it.

“Now a permanent fixture in Boca Raton, it stands as a testament to Jacob’s enduring legacy,” Stephen Kosowsky said at the invitation-only gathering of more than 100 family and friends on June 9.

“Its heights reach towards the sky, reminding us of his aspirations, dreams and limitless potential he carried within him,” Jacob’s father continued, his voice breaking. “Its foundation is solid, much like the values Jacob embodied — integrity, resilience and a deep sense of respect for the environment.”

12686767476?profile=RESIZE_710xLooking to the west, the tower gives a panoramic view from 40 feet up of Gumbo Limbo’s mangrove hammock and the Intracoastal Waterway.

The tower gives a bird’s-eye view from 40 feet up of Gumbo Limbo’s mangrove hammock, the Intracoastal Waterway and even glimpses of the Atlantic Ocean. An ADA-compliant, six-level switchback ramp offers a 700-foot stroll to the top. Also an option: five flights of stairs with 71 steps.


A plaque at the top will dedicate the outlook forever:

A vista to inspire the soul from the depths of the ocean to the skies above
In loving memory of Jacob Kosowsky
May you be moved by its beauty and hold it in your hearts

Jacob, then 21 and a junior at Vanderbilt University in Tennessee, died in a car accident in 2018. The Boca Raton native and Boca High graduate had grown up spearfishing, boating, snow skiing, playing soccer and climbing the tower, which originally was built before he was born.

12686768879?profile=RESIZE_710xSharilyn Jones and Stephen Kosowsky stand between two photo enlargements of their son, Jacob, before the tower was dedicated with a plaque. Photo provided by City of Boca Raton

“He was an outdoors kid, and that love of nature and sublime adventure stayed with him throughout his life,” his mother told the crowd assembled on the nature center’s grounds. “It is our wish that this tower, Jacob’s Outlook, will be a reminder to each of us to allow that profound understanding to live with deep meaning and harmony.”

Jacob’s sister, Mia, who was a year behind him at Vanderbilt and has since graduated, told everyone that that Sunday was also her birthday.

“Shortly after we knew that this was going to be happening, and my parents were trying to figure out when we were going to be celebrating the opening, I couldn’t think of a better way to share this (day) and share something with my brother,” she said. “So cheers to you, Jake — woo!”

The city’s official ribbon-cutting that opened the tower to the public was June 13.

The path to rebuilding the tower was neither quick nor easy.

Engineers in 2015 declared it and the adjoining boardwalk unsafe, and they were removed. The boardwalk was rebuilt and reopened five years ago.

Around that time, six 40-foot wooden posts for the tower were embedded in concrete, but construction stopped when city officials decided the replacement would have to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The nonprofit Coastal Stewards, then known as the Friends of Gumbo Limbo, proposed building an “inclined elevator.” Kosowsky and Jones pledged the $250,000 in return for naming the tower after Jacob, and Howard and Merele Kosowsky, his grandparents, gifted $100,000. Their extended family and family friends raised almost $208,000 more for the project.

12686769685?profile=RESIZE_710xAn ADA-compliant, six-level switchback ramp offers a 700-foot stroll to the top. Also an option: five flights of stairs with 71 steps.

City officials later scrapped the elevator plan in favor of the multi-level ramp, which they estimated would cost $1.4 million. They and Greater Boca Raton Beach and Park District officials were shocked in early 2022 when they received only one bid — for $2.6 million.

The project was rebid and West Palm Beach-based Walker Design & Construction Co. won the $2.4 million job. The Beach and Park District covered $1.9 million.
Stephen Kosowsky thanked everyone for the generous support.


Stephen Kosowsky admires one of the photos of his son that were on display.

“Our dearest Jacob, you are forever in our hearts. Your spirit soars with every breeze that touches this tower, and your love continues to guide us,” he said. “Though you’re no longer with us in body, your presence is felt in every corner of our lives, and your legacy will forever stand tall, like the tower we dedicate in your honor today.”

Before leading the guests to the viewing platform, Jones told them the event’s signature cocktail — a mix of light, dark and coconut rum with triple sec and pineapple juice — was “a fave of Jake’s.”

“And whatever you have in your hand at this moment, let us all toast to Jake and the big love he has brought here today,” she said.

Read more…

Related: With new logo, merchandise, centennial hoopla may stretch into 2026

By Mary Hladky

Boca Raton. Boca Ratone. Boca de Ratones.

That isn’t a conjugation of the city’s name, just a sampling of the variations that have appeared over time.

It’s safe to say, the city’s pioneers could have put a spell-check app to good use.

And, with all the different spellings, it should come as no surprise that one incorporation wouldn’t be enough.

The city is preparing to celebrate its centennial next year, the birth of Boca Raton marked by its incorporation as a town in 1925.
But the history books show the city was first incorporated as a town a year earlier, under the name “Boca Ratone.” The Boca Raton Historical Society decided to have some fun with this muddle by holding a “Boca Ratone Family Fun Day” on June 22 to commemorate the first incorporation.

“It’s something most people don’t know about,” society curator Sue Gillis said.

“We wanted to commemorate this earlier incorporation before Addison Mizner ever set foot in town,” Shannon Patron, the society’s director of education, said of the famed architect.

The man who the historical society says was the first settler, surveyor Thomas Moore Rickards, had platted the town as “Boca Raton” in 1896. But the city’s other pioneers don’t seem to have had any allegiance to that spelling.

Gillis counts about 20 different ones, including “Boca Ratton” and “Boca de Ratone.”

And earlier map-makers had problems of their own.

A 1774 map of South Florida shows the original site of “Boca Ratones” on Biscayne Bay. An 1839 map placed the site in two locations at the same time — one on Biscayne Bay and the second at Lake Boca Raton.

12686756065?profile=RESIZE_400xThe mish-mash of spellings even made its way into the city’s seal — Boca Raton became a city in 1957 — which is emblazoned with an image of a sailing vessel in an inlet, with the name “Boca de Ratones” on a scroll with the 1925 incorporation date.

At the Boca Ratone Day celebration, events included a demonstration that allowed kids to learn how butter was made before Publix did the work for us.

Other activities included a puppet show, dance lessons, trivia sessions and the serving of a birthday cake.

Kids even got a chance to redesign the city’s misguided seal.

12686756662?profile=RESIZE_710xGinger Mentzer, CPA for the Boca Raton Historical Society, teaches the Charleston to kids at the Boca Ratone Family Fun Day on June 22 at the history museum. The whimsical event celebrated the 100th anniversary of Boca’s initial incorporation as ‘Boca Ratone’ before it became Boca Raton in 1925. Tim Stepien/The Coastal Star

A food tasting with swamp cabbage, coconut canapes and many things mango drew from the historical society’s recipe book The Pioneer Cook In Southeast Florida, by Donald Walter Curl.

“We thought it was good to celebrate our pioneer heritage,” said Mary Csar, the society’s executive director.

There’s yet another misconception to clear up.

Everyone thinks Boca Raton means rat’s mouth. But linguists say it actually means mouse’s mouth.

Unless it means something else entirely.

“Boca de Ratones” or “Boca Ratones” was a navigational term referring to a rocky or jagged inlet, according to the historical society.

It was applied to the current Lake Boca in early maps even though the Boca Inlet did not exist at the time and was carved out later.

Read more…

By Mary Hladky

As the city continues planning for its 100th birthday celebration in 2025, one thing is clear — this yearlong party won’t be cobbled together on the cheap.

The city has hired a centennial marketing consultant, Boca Raton-based Merit Mile, which will be paid $467,926 for 18 months of work that began on July 1 “to bring a dynamic and creative approach” to the centennial celebration, the city said in announcing the hiring. The company’s work can be extended for an additional six months.

Merit Mile’s responsibilities include creating a website that will be continuously updated with all-things-centennial information and will include a centennial store. It will launch on Dec. 1.

The company will design centennial-themed merchandise featuring the city’s centennial logo that will be available in the online store. The items can be purchased, but there also will be giveaways. The logo was unveiled on the city’s website on June 24.

12686743653?profile=RESIZE_400xMerit Mile also will create sponsorship, donation and community partnership packages for people, businesses and organizations that want to support and finance the gala.

“This yearlong, community-wide event is a significant milestone that demands extensive resources and expertise, and we believe Merit Mile is the perfect partner to help us achieve this,” Anne Marie Connolly, the city’s communications and marketing manager, said in the announcement.

A centennial weekend celebration will be held on May 24 and 25. Although the city’s 100th birthday actually falls on May 26, the celebration was moved up so it won’t conflict with Memorial Day.

While most centennial events will take place next year, some already are being held. A June event celebrated the 1924 incorporation of “Boca Ratone,” which was a year before its current incorporation without the “e” at the end.

The city also has partnered with the poetry organization O, Miami to launch “Zip Odes,” which are five-line poems written by residents with the number of words in each line based on their zip code numbers. To try your hand, go to

Curated poems honoring the city will be showcased in public art projects.

Mayor Scott Singer, zip code 33496, is among those to whom the muse has spoken. His offering:

Boca Raton is
the greatest city
because of its people
but we can reach our fullest potential, united together
for the next century and beyond.

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12686706660?profile=RESIZE_710xMuseum Director Irvin Lippman says the school ‘is definitely staying in Boca Raton,’ but that the 60-year-old building must be replaced at some point.
Larry Barszewski/The Coastal Star

Related: Summer arrives with no plan for art classes at Crest Theatre

By Mary Hladky

The Boca Raton Museum of Art’s offer this spring to move its art school to Delray Beach alarmed art students, who feared losing a school that they love.

Even though museum Executive Director Irvin Lippman has since withdrawn the proposal he made to Delray Beach officials, students’ anxieties that their school is in jeopardy have not lessened.

Students who spoke with The Coastal Star said they had no idea Lippman intended to approach Delray Beach about operating and managing the Crest Theatre and Center for Creative Arts at Old School Square and had not sought their input.

“Nobody knew this was going on,” including the teachers, said ceramics student Rebecca Vaughan. “I felt like this whole thing was happening and nobody was saying, ‘Wait a minute. You are about to give away Boca’s art school.’”

Donna Winton, who has taken three art classes a week since January, said that when she spoke to other students, “they were in shock,” because they were unaware their school might be moved.

“You find community at the art school,” she said. “You look forward to going to your classes. It is just a really magical place to go and to be. The school is so special. It is a creative hub for students of all ages.”

“It is very important to the community…” said longtime art student Sheryl Satzman. “How is it the Boca Raton art school if it is in Delray?”

The art school offers a wide range of day and evening classes for students of all ages year-round and seven days a week.

Lippman said “it was never the case” that the museum was going to close the art school, and it will continue operating at its current location at 801 W. Palmetto Park Road. “It is definitely staying in Boca Raton,” he said.

There was no intention of keeping anyone in the dark about what was happening, he said.

“The staff at the school certainly knew what the story was,” Lippman said, and “we tried to address this to students.”

If students were unaware of the museum’s interest in Delray Beach, “I am sorry they did not get the message,” Lippman said.

This also was not the museum’s first approach to Delray Beach. Two years ago, officials proposed running the Cornell Art Museum, but fractious Delray Beach politics stymied that.

The most recent overture ran into a roadblock when, among other issues, Mayor Tom Carney wanted to offer a short-term use permit for this summer rather than a long-term lease.

That would have been unworkable for the Boca museum.

But change will be coming in Boca Raton at some point because the 60-year-old art school building is in too poor shape to be renovated, Lippman said.

That point also was made in an April 22 letter to Delray Beach City Manager Terrence Moore that was signed by Lippman and museum Board of Trustees Chair John DesPrez III.

“The Boca Raton Museum of Art has been looking for an alternative space for its Art School, which is currently housed in a 60-year-old building that is nearing the end of its useful life,” the letter said.

Lippman said that museum officials have been in conversation for eight years about how to improve the studio program on the property, and had made plans for a new building about two years ago. The proposed building, however, was too large for the property, and those plans were scrapped, he said.

The museum leadership is now considering again how the building can be replaced on the existing site.

But first, a new design is needed and funds must be raised to build it. “We are not even near a point of talking about a new building,” Lippman said, and a decision is “some years away.”

If the decision is made, museum officials will need to find a temporary location for the school, with possibilities including the Boca Raton Innovation Campus on West Yamato Road immediately west of Interstate 95.

He and DesPrez made the overture to Delray Beach because “we thought that might be a way to reach a larger audience.”

The location is logical, he said, because while half of the museum members live in Boca Raton, the rest live in Delray Beach and nearby towns. “It made perfect sense to have the auxiliary program elsewhere,” Lippman said.

But the art school students see the situation differently.

While they agree that the school is run-down, they think it simply needs renovations that would be less costly than a new building. They disagree that the building needs to be replaced.

They love the school’s location next to the beautiful Old Floresta historic neighborhood and question how many students would attend classes in Delray Beach since many of them live near the current location.

“It is convenient. It is for Boca. It is not for Delray. Delray can make their own facility,” Winton said.

Students fear what will happen next.

“Our concern now is that it is not over. They will look for another way” to move the school, Vaughan said. “I am afraid for its future. It is a matter of what will they do next.”

Read more…

By Rich Pollack

Highland Beach got a little help from the state in its efforts to ensure its wastewater system is better prepared to function should rising seas lead to flooding.

Last month, Gov. Ron DeSantis approved a $116.5 billion state budget that included $250,000 for an upgrade to the town’s wastewater removal system.

At the same time, the governor shot down a request for $875,000 for a major sewer-pipe-lining project the town has been struggling to get started for years.

Town Manager Marshall Labadie said that despite the governor’s veto, Highland Beach will continue to move forward with the lining project after a preliminary inspection showed weakness in the aging sewage pipes.

Labadie said that the town will continue to seek outside funding for the $3.5 million project and will move forward even if state or federal funding is not available.

The sewer-lining project was approved by voters in March during a special referendum.

State Rep. Peggy Gossett-Seidman, a former Highland Beach town commissioner whose district includes the town and Boca Raton, said she is hoping to help the town find funding for the sewer lining project from the state’s Department of Environmental Protection.

“They have a grant funding program that has money available,” she said.
Gossett-Seidman said she is already in the process of filing paperwork for the grant and has told DEP officials that the project is a priority.

The $250,000 wastewater improvement appropriation that avoided the governor’s veto marks the second time in as many years that funding for improvements to a town sanitary lift station was included in the budget.

Labadie said that two of the town’s lift stations were vulnerable to flooding and needed to be raised to prevent sea water intrusion. Were the sea water to get into the lift stations, he said, the town would likely end up paying to unnecessarily treat the extra water.

The town also will raise electronic components of the lift station to ensure they are not damaged by sea water in the future.

The back-to-back appropriations are the first in the town’s almost 75-year history, and town commissioners and Labadie credit Gossett-Seidman and the town’s lobbying firm, Capital City Partners, for the success.

“Now that we are a full-service community, we’re capitalizing on the opportunities that are available to us,” Labadie said.

Gossett-Seidman said that the two direct appropriations fit well with the overall objective of the appropriations system.

“Appropriations are designed to assist municipalities with their imminent needs so the state doesn’t have to come in and fund even more later,” she said. “They can prevent a bigger disaster later.”

Read more…

By Rich Pollack

Highland Beach commissioners last month got their first look at a proposed $28 million 2024-25 budget that includes leaving the town’s tax rate the same as in the current year.

The overall proposed budget, which includes a general fund budget and separate building fund, as well as water and sewer fund budgets, shows a reduction of about $5 million, down from $33 million in the current tax year’s budget.

The proposed general fund budget, which includes most of the day-to-day operational expenses, shows a drop of 23%, from $22.8 million to $17.5 million.

That reduction is due, in large part, to the town’s no longer having to account for construction and startup costs associated with its new Fire Rescue Department, which became operational in May.

The proposal also includes a $1 million to $1.5 million reduction in operating the town’s fire department over the estimated cost of continuing to contract with neighboring Delray Beach.

The new budget reflects the town’s intention to put a minimum of about $650,000 back into its reserves, a small repayment of the $4 million taken from reserves to build a new fire station and pay for its startup costs. It also includes an increase in water rates as well as expenses for several capital projects.

The proposed budget calls for the town to maintain a total tax rate of $3.58 per $1,000 of taxable value, including operating and debt service funds, which is the same rate as in the previous two years.

There is a proposed slight increase of $0.185 per $1,000 in the town’s operating tax rate, due largely to the increase in staffing associated with the new fire department. That is offset by a reduction in the town’s debt service tax rate, due to the elimination of its water fund debt and a reduction in its fire service debt.

“We are maintaining our low tax structure and still getting capital projects done while replenishing reserves,” Town Manager Marshall Labadie said.
Labadie said that the budget reflects a five-year plan, the blueprint on which the town has moved forward.
“All of the things we planned and executed on are coming to fruition,” he said.

While the overall tax rate will most likely remain the same — or be lowered — the current budget includes an average proposed water rate increase of about 8% that is based on the town’s five-year forecast. The water fund is budgeted at almost $5 million, while the sewer fund has a budget of about $2.5 million.

One factor enabling the town to maintain its low tax rate is an increase in taxable property value of a preliminary $317.4 million, a 9% increase but less than the 13% increase the previous tax year.

Property tax revenues account for about 76% of the general fund revenues and will increase about 7.7% or just shy of $1 million.

Police and fire protection are the major general fund expenses, with the police department’s proposed budget accounting for about $4.4 million, a jump of 28% from the current year.

The proposed budget includes a fire department expense of about $5.7 million, which is $7.5 million less than this year, when the town had to pay for construction, startup and training of its new department while paying Delray Beach for service from October to May.

Those savings, along with reductions in other areas, will help cover the cost of capital projects and strategic initiatives, including the rehabilitation of the old fire station into a community gathering place.

“We are now a stand-alone, full-service community with a bright future, a strong balance sheet and an unwavering commitment from the Town Commission,” Labadie said.

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City Manager George Brown received high marks from Boca Raton City Council members for his performance in the city’s top job during a June 11 evaluation that came five 12686700659?profile=RESIZE_180x180months after longtime City Manager Leif Ahnell’s retirement.

In his self-evaluation, Brown, the city’s deputy city manager before his promotion, said he has endeavored to be efficient, responsive to council inquiries and resident issues, and that he believes he has done a good job maintaining the day-to-day operations of the city.

He faulted himself only for needing to get better at delegating authority to city staff members and empowering them to act in a supportive environment.

“I express my sincerest gratitude to all staff at all levels,” he said.

While Ahnell always was praised by the council in annual evaluations, particularly for his financial stewardship of the city, his relationship with city staff went unmentioned.

This time, council members quickly responded to Brown’s comment on staff empowerment, saying they had already seen evidence that ranking employees feel more comfortable with offering their ideas and analysis.

“I am very pleased with the culture of empowerment that you are working towards with the staff and the team,” said Council member Marc Wigder.

During the annual strategic planning sessions held with the council and staff in May, Wigder said that, in a departure from the past, “many staff were really part of the conversation.”

Council member Fran Nachlas said she appreciates that Brown is doing this.

“I think that staff is invigorated,” said Deputy Mayor Yvette Drucker.

“Keep delegating where you can so for the big-picture stuff we have coming, you are the tip of the spear,” said Mayor Scott Singer.

— Mary Hladky

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Three veteran commissioners of the Greater Boca Raton Beach and Park District will spend four more years in office after no one filed last month to run against them.

Staying on the dais will be Steve Engel, first elected to the board in 2012, and Craig Ehrnst and Erin Wright, who joined in the 2016 election.

“We didn’t have to do election campaigns this year, so that’s a bonus for sure,” said Wright, who chairs the board.

Commissioner Bob Rollins congratulated his colleagues during the board’s June 17 meeting.

“It’s a whole lot easier working with people who have been here rather than trying to start from scratch on things,” Rollins said. “And now we’re all seasoned and we have great working relationships, so I’m just delighted to be able to continue working with the three of you.”

Beach and park commissioners are paid $80 for each meeting they attend and usually meet twice a month. They oversee a $79 million budget. The elected terms begin Jan. 1.

— Steve Plunkett

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By Mary Hladky

The Center for Arts and Innovation has received a $1 million appropriation from the Florida Legislature that will go toward completing the cultural center’s design and cultural program planning.

Gov. Ron DeSantis on June 12 vetoed $32 million in art and culture grants that lawmakers included in the state budget, shocking cultural organizations across Florida that had expected to receive grants after lawmakers approved the budget in March.

But that action did not affect the Boca Raton project because it did not receive grant funding. The appropriation was sponsored by state Sen. Gayle Harrell, R-Stuart, and state Rep. Mike Caruso, R-West Palm Beach. It was approved by the Legislature as a separate item and DeSantis did not veto it.

Harrell was unavailable for comment in late June, and Caruso could not be reached by then.

Although state Sen. Tina Polsky, D-Boca Raton, was not a sponsor, she said in a statement that the appropriation will help provide a cultural hub to foster innovation, economic growth and the arts.

“I was proud to support and advocate for the project during the past legislative session and look forward to seeing its extensive positive impact,” she said.

The center got another financial boost when it received an $865,000 grant from the Cultural Council for Palm Beach County.

“As we forge ahead on our efforts to deliver a world-class creative campus in the heart of downtown Boca Raton, support from our governmental partners is of the utmost importance and a recognition we do not take lightly,” Center Chair and CEO Andrea Virgin said in a June 4 statement.

Virgin had wanted the center, projected to cost at least $140 million, to break ground in 2025, Boca Raton’s centennial year, but that has now been pushed back to the first quarter of 2027.

Her public relations firm said that delays are common for projects of this size and complexity, but did not provide details.

The center, which will be located in Mizner Park and is being designed by the prestigious Renzo Piano Building Workshop, will contain multiple venues for cultural programming, a piazza, rooftop terrace and underground parking.

State funds FY2025
Three Boca Raton projects received money in the state budget that took effect July 1. The city received $1.4 million for drinking water transmission and delivery, $1 million for widening of Northwest/Southwest Fourth Avenue, and $300,000 for drainage improvements on Northwest 35th Street.

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12686701087?profile=RESIZE_710xCondo owners at Tower 155, a 127-unit complex located at 155 East Boca Raton Road, have filed suit, asking for damages to pay for repairs or rebuilding. Photo provided

By Mary Hladky

Tower 155 condominium owners have sued the 4-year-old building’s developer, contractor, architect and 21 other companies, alleging shoddy construction and design that has left them footing the bill for extensive repairs.

Tower 155 Condominium Association’s lawsuit includes a six-page list of deficiencies in the 127 condos and throughout the downtown Boca Raton high-rise, including improper installation and building materials, which have caused water intrusion, corrosion and unsafe conditions, among other problems.

The lawsuit, which is seeking an unspecified amount of damages to pay for repairs or rebuilding, names as the main defendants Boca Raton-based developer Compson Associates, Delray Beach-headquartered contractor Kaufman Lynn Construction, and the Boca Raton architectural firm Vander Ploeg and Associates, led by Derek Vander Ploeg.

A unit owner said he and association board members would not comment on the litigation at this time.

Compson Vice President Carl Klepper said company officials have had “very amicable discussions” about matters the association would like to have corrected.

“We are aware of the complaints,” he said. “We have been working civilly with the association. If there are things to be corrected, the contractor and subcontractors will resolve them.”

Derek Vander Ploeg said virtually all of the alleged deficiencies are related to construction, not building design.

A Kaufman Lynn official did not respond to an email requesting comment.

The defects were not obvious to condo buyers and they discovered them only after moving in, the suit says.

It alleges that the building was not constructed in compliance with the state building code or good design, engineering and construction practices.

Vander Ploeg said the claim that the building does not comply with the state building code is “simply wrong.” Tower 155 complies with the code in effect when it was constructed, but the code has been revised since then, he said.

Building code violations, however, are cited in a Dec. 2, 2022, report on Tower 155’s condition prepared by Miami-based Pistorino and Alam consulting engineers after Tower 155 was turned over by Compson to the condo association on March 29 of that year.

The 166-page report lists a long litany of problems and repeatedly says the conditions are not in compliance with or are prohibited by the state building code.

The 12-story Tower 155, located at 155 East Boca Raton Road, was completed in 2020 during a downtown building boom that drew the ire of many residents who said overdevelopment was ruining the city’s character. They criticized a number of projects as being too large and certain to worsen traffic conditions.

The lawsuit, filed on Oct. 30, 2023, in Palm Beach County Circuit Court, is in the early stages of litigation and the court file does not yet contain detailed responses from the defendants.

But in their affirmative defenses, a standard pleading in civil litigation, Compson, Kaufman Lynn and Vander Ploeg denied the allegations against them.

Since Tower 155 was completed, Compson and Vander Ploeg have teamed up again on the Aletto at Sanborn Square, to be built across East Boca Raton Road from the condo.

The project initially was to include office space, luxury apartments and a parking garage, but plans changed in 2022 when apartments were eliminated in favor of only Class A office space. The City Council approved the project one year ago.

It also drew strong objections from nearby residents, including Tower 155 owners, who said it is too massive for the 1.3 acres on which it will sit, would increase traffic on already overcrowded streets and would harm nearby Sanborn Square.

When the BocaFirst blog wrote in early February that “word on the street” and “more than rumors” suggested that Compson planned to change course and add residential units, Klepper denied it when he appeared before the City Council later that month.

In a June 17 interview with The Coastal Star, Klepper reiterated that the Aletto remains an office project and said he expects to break ground before the end of the year.

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12686691098?profile=RESIZE_710xMizner Park is one of the destinations where the Boca Connect stops. Photo provided

By Mary Hladky

People wanting an easy way to get around downtown Boca Raton without driving their cars now can use BocaConnect, an EV shuttle service operated by Circuit Transit.

The June 17 service launch was accompanied by a ceremony in Mizner Park attended by City Council members, other city officials and members of the business community who then boarded a Circuit six-seat electric vehicle for inaugural rides.

Circuit “will be a major connector for transportation in the downtown and surrounding areas,” Council member Fran Nachlas told the crowd. “It will reduce reliance on single-occupancy vehicles, multiple short trips, congestion and parking demand.”

Circuit partner Jason Bagley said: “At Circuit, we are on a mission to make short-range travel easier, connecting communities, boosting economic development and creating a sustainable impact.”

The city is marketing the new service on its website, social media platforms, newsletters, flyers and more.

Residents apparently knew to look for the start of service. While the ceremony was underway, Circuit’s app stated that “service is very busy” in Boca Raton.

To book rides, download the Circuit app, available on both iOS and Android platforms, and type in the pickup address and destination. Wait times for a ride are expected to be 10 minutes or less and riders will be updated on when the shuttle will arrive.

The total shuttle service area runs from Glades Road to the south city limits, and from Interstate 95 to Fifth Avenue/Royal Palm Way.

All rides must begin or end in the heart of downtown, which includes the Federal Highway corridor, Downtown Library, Brightline station and Wildflower and Silver Palm Parks.

Rides within the downtown are free.

Rides that start or end outside of downtown will cost $2. Each additional rider will cost $1, with a fare cap of $5.

As an inducement to ride, Circuit is offering two free rides until July 14.

The hours of services are Monday-Thursday, 7 a.m. to 11 p.m.; Friday, 7 a.m. to 2 a.m.; Saturday, 9 a.m. to 2 a.m.; Sunday, 9 a.m. to 11 p.m.

The service is starting as a one-year pilot project and adjustments can be made during that time based on demand.

The city also is open to expanding the service area to include locations such as the Yamato Road Tri-Rail station, Florida Atlantic University, and oceanside parks. Beachside residents in the Sun and Surf, Riviera and Por La Mar neighborhoods already are lobbying to be included.

The city will pay Circuit $395,728 for its first year of operation. The amount can be recalculated in future years.

The Fort Lauderdale-based company operates in many South Florida cities.

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12684878698?profile=RESIZE_710x12684879455?profile=RESIZE_710xReefs off Palm Beach County are in cooler water at greater depths and are washed by the passing Gulf Stream, giving them a better chance of survival than the shallow reefs in locations like the Keys. Photos provided

Palm Beach County’s coral reefs are faring much better than some farther south that are plagued by bleaching from warming waters

By John Christopher Fine

Chris Deen — licensed captain, veteran diver and ocean explorer based in Boynton Beach — has the Atlantic for his aquarium.

Despite threats facing Florida’s coral reefs from pollution and warming waters, Deen and other area dive boat captains say the reefs off southern Palm Beach County are holding up remarkably well.

“Coral growth here will be the last coral in Florida. We have the depth and the Gulf Stream and we protect it better,” says Deen, who operates Starfish — a 34-foot Crusader — out of Boynton Harbor Marina daily, weather permitting.

Gov. Ron DeSantis signed legislation in May that designates the northern portion of Florida’s barrier reef, known as the Kristin Jacobs Coral Reef Ecosystem Conservation Area, as a state aquatic preserve, which offers it the maximum amount of protection available from the state.

The 105-mile-long preserve stretches from the St. Lucie Inlet south to Key Biscayne. The new law took effect July 1.

The state is also investing $57 million in its new budget for coral reef restoration and coastal protection.

The threat from runoff
For Deen to get to the reef, he navigates Starfish out through the Boynton Inlet. Not originally meant as a passage to the ocean, the inlet was cut to allow sewage effluent from canals and local discharges to get out into the Atlantic Ocean at tide change. The cut prevented Lake Worth Lagoon — that part of the Intracoastal Waterway that passes through the area — from becoming a noisome, dangerously polluted sewer.

All manner of harmful and toxic discharges come out of canals that crisscross Florida, finding their way to the Intracoastal and ocean. Agricultural runoffs including fertilizer, insecticides, pesticides, urine, feces and other chemical wastes wash through the canals, as do lawn and yard treatments from more urban areas.

Discharges containing nitrogen act as nutrients. Fishermen realize fish congregate around sewer pipes, eating what is flushed out. Some of this has been curtailed by court order, but some municipalities still use large diameter sewer pipes that protrude a mile out into the ocean when heavy rains make holding stormwater impossible.

The nitrogen-heavy wastewater also promotes algae, which can cover and smother sensitive coral.

The threat from warming waters
Water temperature also plays a role in the health of coral.

Recent observations in the Florida Keys, as well as islands throughout the Caribbean, reveal large-scale deaths of stony corals. The diver’s paradise in Grand Cayman Island has dead hard corals with vast areas of bleached coral, attributed to high ocean temperatures.

12684880663?profile=RESIZE_180x180What Deen has observed diving is what researchers worldwide have reported. Warming seas, with sustained temperatures well over 90 degrees recorded in places such as the Florida Keys, have resulted in coral ejecting the symbiotic plant that lives inside its theca or calcium carbonate shell. Without Zooxanthellae or Symbiodinium, a dinoflagellate, coral bleaches white and eventually dies.

But that’s not the case offshore in South County. “Boynton Beach offers the best reef dives in Florida. There are ledges. The Gulf Stream sweeps in here,” Deen said.

Those findings are echoed by Palm Beach Zoo’s Scientific Dive Team, which is part of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s Disturbance Response Monitoring program. Last year, during the spring and summer, the zoo’s dive team studied the conditions off Looe Key, where it observed “bleached, paling, unhappy coral everywhere,” dive team member John Towey said.

“When we returned to the reefs in Palm Beach County, we were happy to see the reefs were faring better than in the Keys,” Towey said. “Water temperatures were higher but not to the extremes being recorded by our friends and partners elsewhere.”

The Gulf Stream makes difference
While Towey said the local reef is far from perfect, it “may be the saving grace the rest of the reef relies on.” He described it as “a silver lining in an ocean of white.”

Palm Beach County’s offshore areas are affected by strong eddies of the predominantly northward flowing Gulf Stream. The current can be mild or at times run as fast as 4 knots.

The Gulf Stream flow serves as a natural broom, sweeping waters offshore clean. Algae that proliferated due to high nitrogen content of wastewater discharges are often pushed off reefs by storms and surges.

“The reefs here are deeper,” Deen said. Depth as well as the Gulf Stream keep Atlantic Ocean temperatures off southern Palm Beach County at acceptable levels for coral. All but very deep-water corals require sunlight penetration for plants inside them to live.

Temperatures from about 68 to 80 degrees are ideal, as long as there is no sedimentation to choke coral growth. Sedimentation can occur with beach renourishment projects that dredge sand from deeper ocean areas and pile it on beaches that have been eroded by storms.

A veteran dive instructor from the Kyalami Scuba Club, which runs dive boats out of West Palm Beach and Jupiter, also attests to the health of the local reefs. Meme Edwards said “it is surprising how healthy our reefs are. There was some stony coral disease that has subsided. A little bleaching that was monitored by divers and conservation officials, but our reefs stayed healthy.”

During the hot summer months that killed corals in the Florida Keys last year, local reefs remained largely unaffected. “Ocean temperatures at the bottom were 69 to 73 degrees Fahrenheit at 60 feet. Surface water at the top ranged into the 80s. That was consistent all summer,” Edwards said.

Shaun Gallant, owner-partner of the Kyalami Scuba Club, said the reef remained healthy due to lower temperatures at depth.

“We see some brain coral here, not the most obvious, yet my observations showed it was healthy,” Edwards said. “There was no bleaching. Generally, our divers are pleasantly surprised after coming here from diving in the Keys. This is way deeper, from 50 to 60 feet on the shore side of the reef and 80 feet on the outside reef areas. Healthy coral equals healthy marine life. We see a hundred groupers aggregating, sharks, turtles.”


Divers play an important role

Gallant and Edwards described the importance of diver participation with dive operators in observing reef conditions.

“We are a small community. We monitor reef conditions. We notify government and reef conservation agencies if we see anything,” Edwards said. “We’ve helped with turtle entanglements and report any coral that we see dying. I bring people in that do research.”

Recent dives revealed healthy stony corals in the region’s ocean waters. Reef tops are about 50 feet deep. Depending on the area, local reefs are up to a quarter-mile wide.

Biodiversity abounds and a wide variety of corals thrive, enabling habitat and food for other species.

Deen and his wife, Julia, remain sentinels of the sea, as does Gallant, observers of an underwater realm that welcomes discovery. It is their passion as well as their means of livelihood.

“Kyalami is a Zulu word that means literally ‘My home,’” says Gallant, evoking the belief that when it comes to conservation, the ocean belongs to all people.
“Or symbolically: ‘my home, your home.’”




John Christopher Fine is a marine biologist who lives in Boynton Beach.

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12684877455?profile=RESIZE_710xTed Hoskinson and Mark Sauer. Photo provided

By Amy Woods

The founder of Bound For College, originally known as Delray Students First, and the founder of Roots and Wings, an organization that supports literacy programs, have joined forces.

Mark Sauer and Ted Hoskinson established the Hoskinson Fellowship with a $50,000 gift.

“Ted and I are working toward the same goal,” Sauer said of Hoskinson’s donation and his work at Roots and Wings. “Our missions complement each other at opposite ends of the public school spectrum. Ted is ensuring that under-resourced students attending local elementary schools are achieving grade-level literacy while gaining the confidence they need to thrive in school.

“Once those students reach high school, it is up to Bound For College to take over and support them with ACT/SAT tutoring and the mentorship they need to succeed with college applications and scholarship support. The new Hoskinson Fellowship helps Bound For College take that path another step further by awarding financial support to some of our college students who struggle financially once they are in college successfully pursuing their career goals.”

For information about Bound For College, call 561-819-9907 or visit For information about Roots and Wings, call 561-404-0455 or visit

$200,000-plus raised at annual Boca Bacchanal
Boca Bacchanal, the cork-popping celebration of food and wine, was a sipping success this year, captivating hundreds of connoisseurs and enthusiasts.

The weekend’s worth of events raised more than $200,000 to benefit the Boca Raton Historical Society/The Schmidt Boca Raton History Museum and delivered an unparalleled experience of cuisine and vino.

“This year’s Boca Bacchanal was nothing short of spectacular, showcasing the best of our community’s culinary talent while championing the preservation of our history,” said

Mary Csar, executive director of the society. “We’re immensely grateful to all who contributed to making this event a resounding success.”

In other news, the nonprofit has been honored with the Historical Society of Palm Beach County’s coveted Fannie James Pioneer Achievement Award. Established in 2003, the award recognizes significant contributions toward furthering the history of the area’s pioneering days. It is named for the late African-American founder of the post office in Lake Worth Beach that operated from 1889 to 1903.

“We are deeply honored to receive the Fannie James Pioneer Achievement Award,” Csar said. “This recognition reflects our commitment to preserving the rich and diverse history of our community, ensuring that the stories of our past continue to inspire and educate future generations.”

For more information, call 561-395-6766 or visit

Season ends successfully for Downtown Rotarians
The May 31 meeting of the Rotary Club Downtown Boca Raton was filled with love and kindness as the organization welcomed representatives from 17 local nonprofits and awarded each a grant.

A total of $80,000 was distributed, all of which was raised at the Boca Raton Mayors Ball.

“The Rotary funds will help us furnish 12 private bedrooms in our new residential group home in Boca Raton,” said HomeSafe CEO Matthew Ladika, one of the 17 grantees. “We are grateful for the Rotary partnership and investment in children’s futures.”

Other recipients were 4KIDS of South Florida, American Association of Caregiving Youth, American Disabilities Foundation, Best Foot Forward, CityHouse, Family Promise of South Palm Beach County, Faulk Center for Counseling, JARC Florida, Roots and Wings, Kindness Matters 365, Nutrition On Weekends (NOW), PROPEL, Spirit of Giving Network, Sweet Dream Makers, Villages of Hope, and YMCA of South Palm Beach County.

The club capped the season by providing a groovy time at the annual banquet June 12, themed “Love and Peace, Baby!” Members and guests wore festive attire in the spirit of the ’60s. A highlight of the affair was the club’s clinching of the Rotary Club of the Year at a district conference.

“It is the highest recognition from a Rotary governor, and we were selected from the 45 other clubs in our district,” club President Kim Champion said. “This prestigious honor reflects our community engagement, membership recruitment, participation at Rotary events and many other achievements, distinguishing us from other clubs.”

Another highlight was the installation of Bruce Spizler as the new president.

“I am enormously proud of the club and the tremendous commitment of our members who tirelessly give service above self in Boca Raton and beyond,” Spizler said. “Building on this year’s accomplishments will be my priority, along with my fellow board members, going forward.”

For more information, call 561-299-1429 or visit

Junior League appoints new president, board
12684886487?profile=RESIZE_180x180Nicole Stelzer will head the 2024-25 season of the Junior League of Boca Raton.

The new president has been a member of the league for 15 years, leading several committees, including Woman Volunteer of the Year, and serving four terms on the board of directors.

Regarding the board of directors, new members were installed at the annual May dinner meeting. They are Debbie Abrams, Michelle Coggiola, Gwenn Feliciano, Paige Gantt, Pattie Goldenberg, Victoria Matthews, Valentina Moretti, Amanda O’Brien, Barbara Sageman, Samantha Vassallo and Alex Welsh.

For more information, call 561-620-2553 or visit

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12684875083?profile=RESIZE_584xHomeSafe gathered a group of dedicated supporters for a celebration of its soon-to-be-reconstructed facility for children who have experienced abuse and neglect. The event honored Guardian Society donors — top contributors who have added to the success of the agency’s Healing the Hurt campaign. ‘Because of you, 12 children will be moving into their new home this winter,’ board Chairwoman Tarra Moten said. ‘These kids will be sleeping in their own bedrooms, having family dinners together around the table and playing together in the backyard with a renewed sense of love, safety, belonging and hope.’ ABOVE: Ken and Maggie Rosenberg. Photo provided by Tracey Benson Photography

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12684872661?profile=RESIZE_710xNearly $300,000 poured in for local children’s charities at the Boca West Children’s Foundation fundraiser headlined by Food Network chef Alex Guarnaschelli. The sold-out event included a discussion with Guarnaschelli, who shared behind-the-scenes stories. ‘Our guests thoroughly enjoyed Chef Alex’s entertaining, humorous and heartfelt stories,” said Pamela Weinroth, the foundation’s executive director. ‘We were delighted by the warm reception Chef Alex received and truly grateful for the generous support from our sponsors and attendees, all contributing to bettering the lives of children in our community.’ ABOVE: (l-r) Christina Irving, Ashley Craig, Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Deputy Kenneth Torrence and Weinroth. Photo provided

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12684873862?profile=RESIZE_710xThe third annual benefit for the Achievement Centers for Children & Families — and a few other nonprofits — hit the pavement and helped roll in crucial funds. More than 150 historically significant vehicles were showcased to thousands of car enthusiasts while live music played and family activities took place. ‘We are so pleased with the turnout of this event,’ ACCF’s Kerry Filippone said. ‘This partnership combines a love for automobiles and community outreach, creating the perfect mix.’ RIGHT: Delray Beach Concours d’Elegance board members (l-r) Josh Abrams, Filippone, Marc Grimes, Maxwell Zengage, Nicole Grimes, Christopher Nicotra and Alex Berry. Photo provided

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12684874676?profile=RESIZE_710xThe Jewish Federation of South Palm Beach County’s Forever Lions attended a packed event that recognized the philanthropists’ generous commitments — planned gifts or endowments of at least $100,000. Guest speaker Rachie Shnay, a renowned jewelry designer, had pieces on display and for sale. ‘These remarkable women, through their planned gifts or endowments, are not only securing the future of our Jewish community but also embodying the timeless values of tzedakah and continuity,’ said Randee Rubenstein, chairwoman of planned giving and endowments. ‘As we gathered to express our deepest gratitude, we honor not just their contributions but the indelible mark they leave on the tapestry of Jewish life.’ ABOVE: Forever Lions (l-r, in front) Michelle Merson, Suzanne Grant, Susie Sheftel, Karen Press; (in back) Daryl Mogil, Joanne Applebaum, Suzanne Hochberg, Susan Cohen, Susan Gringauz, Jennifer Koenig and Cathy Baer Haubenstock. Photo provided

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12684866055?profile=RESIZE_710xPenelope’s brings the taste and vibe of New Orleans to Mizner Park in Boca Raton. Photo provided

By Jan Norris

From the prolific hospitality family of Rodney Mayo’s Subculture Group comes the new Penelope’s — correctly pronounced as the English do: PEN-a-lope’s.

“Our tagline is ‘Southern charm with a French kiss,’” said partner Vaughan Dugan. “It’s Southern food inspired by New Orleans.”

The restaurant takes over the former Kapow spot in Boca Raton’s Mizner Park. Kapow moved across the plaza last year.

Dugan said diners already were eager to sit again at the indoor-outdoor bar for which Kapow was noted, but “it doesn’t look anything like Kapow. Rodney’s done an amazing job, completely transformed it. I’m always impressed with his vision. He never reveals the whole picture, so you wonder, where’s he going with this?”

Mayo said Penelope’s has a cozy vibe, with 125 seats. The restaurant is named for his sister, who died a few years ago.

“It’s a running joke. She corrected everyone on the pronunciation. She thought the common Penelope was a child’s name — and insisted she was no child,” Mayo said. “So, there’s a picture of her as a child in the back.”

Walls also feature cat pictures and the colors of the French Quarter. Inverted parasols hang from the ceiling and move up and down.

“We tried to incorporate some of the Gothic weirdness of New Orleans,” Mayo said.

The menu is approachable, dubbed “New Southern Soul,” with familiar items such as chicken and waffles, pimento cheese dip, oysters a few ways, and burgers. Other dishes are gumbo, shrimp and grits, Jackson Square bouillabaisse, and for dessert, the famous Cafe du Monde-inspired beignets. All are from the hand of chef Kevin Avellaneda.

A nod to NOLA also comes with the cocktails like the Sazerac, Pimm’s cup, and Ramos gin fizz, along with twists on other classics curated by Dugan’s spouse, Angela Dugan, and Myles Robinson, the beverage program creators.

Also on the menu are vegan and gluten-free dishes and a list of mocktails.

Through September, Penelope’s offers dinner only with late night weekends, but a jazz brunch and lunch service are planned for fall.

Another restaurant from the group, Shaker and Pie — a bar and pizza spot — is under construction next door to Penelope’s, scheduled for a fall opening. About the frantic construction, Dugan joked, “It’s like having three babies in two years.”

More are to come, including another Subculture coffee shop in Delray Beach, and a new concept from Mayo for the former C.W.S. Bar and Kitchen in Lake Worth Beach.

Penelope’s, 431 Plaza Real, Boca Raton. Open daily for dinner, 4 p.m.-midnight; till 2 a.m. Friday and Saturday. Phone 561-896-1038; online at

12684866468?profile=RESIZE_710xWho could resist this seafood display at Corvina’s in Boca Raton? Photo provided

Summer brings out the special menus, entertainment and deals at area restaurants.

At Corvina Seafood Grill (110 Plaza Real S., Boca Raton), there’s an early bird special. All drinks and dishes — wines included — are half price throughout the summer.

Diners must place their orders between 5 and 6 p.m. The emphasis is on seafood here from chef Jeff Tunks: branzino, whole red snapper, seafood towers, sushi, ceviche, plantain-crusted corvine, lobster and more. For menus and to make reservations, go to

Also in Boca Raton, Il Mulino (451 E. Palmetto Park Road) has a $58 sunset menu, available Sunday through Friday. It’s a four-course prix fixe menu with specialty Italian dishes.

At lunch there’s a three-course version for $35, including branzino filet, or veal in a white wine and lemon sauce. Open for lunch, noon-3 p.m., dinner daily from 4:30 p.m.; multicourse brunch on Sunday, noon-3 p.m.

The restaurant was recently renovated. The popular Italian eatery from New York’s Little Italy got a modern look with art deco accents and upgrades to the seating and open bar layout. Also new: an air-conditioned patio outdoors.

In Delray Beach, Le Colonial (601 E. Atlantic Ave.) offers a $35 two-course prix fixe Monday through Friday before 6 p.m.

Diners can choose from several rolls, a beet salad or pan-seared chicken dumplings for the first course. Second course choices include roasted salmon, spicy chicken stir-fry, yellow tofu curry, or the signature fried rice. A dessert from the menu is an extra $10. Open for dinner daily from 5 p.m. The lounge is open at 4 p.m., with social hour 4-6 p.m. and piano nights Monday-Wednesday, 5:30-8:30 p.m.

Caffe Luna Rosa (34 S. Ocean Blvd., Delray Beach) has a special $24 menu most nights. Monday, it’s Cacciucco di Mare — a variety of shellfish and calamari with catch of the day and lobster in an herbed tomato sauce over fine linguine. Tuesday and Wednesday, it’s a lump crab-stuffed lemon sole with vegetables and rice. Thursday features beef tenderloin medallions with shrimp scampi and chef’s potatoes. On Sunday it’s rigatoni and gravy with a meatball and sausage. Open for lunch and dinner daily.

At 800 Palm Trail Grill (800 Palm Trail, Delray Beach), weeknight specials are in place for summer. Two-for-Tuesday means buy one entree, get one at half off. Must be of equal or lesser value. It’s half off bottles of wine under $100 on Wine-Down Wednesday. Thirsty Thursday means it’s Happy Hour throughout the restaurant open to close, with half off wines by the glass, beer, and most liquors. (This deal also applies to lunch, Tuesday through Saturday.) On Date Night Friday, get a free bottle of select wines with the purchase of two entrees. Open for lunch Tuesday-Saturday, 11:30-3:30; dinner Tuesday-Sunday at 5 p.m., and Sunday brunch, 11 a.m.-3 p.m.

Josie’s (650 E. Woolbright Road, Boynton Beach) has daily specials, including Meatball and Martini Mondays, featuring $3 meatballs, $3.50 sliders and $4 off the full-priced martinis: watermelon, espresso and limoncello.

Tuesdays bring 25% off all entrees for takeout or delivery. Use code 25OFF. On Wednesday, it’s 40% off all bottles of wines under $80. There’s a BOGO offer Thursdays, takeout or delivery: Buy one entree, get one half-off. Use code BOGO. At lunch and until 4 p.m. daily, get a free bottle of French Rose All Day with two full-priced entrees. Open for lunch and dinner daily.

Art Basil in Manalapan’s Plaza del Mar (218 S. Ocean Blvd.) has summer specials such as steamed clams or mussels for $14; artichoke Francaise, $12; surf and turf, $15; mussels linguine, $26; lobster mac ’n’ cheese, $20; and seared scallop salad, $25. Other seafoods and salads are on special, as is a summer dessert, lemon cream cake for $9. Live music plays on the patio. Open weekdays for lunch, 11:30 a.m., and dinner daily at 4:30 p.m.

Ravish in Lantana (210 E. Ocean Ave.) features Martini Monday, 4 p.m. to close. Get $6 martinis and $2.50 oysters. Thursday is ladies’ night, with a never-ending happy hour on drinks. Half off select cocktails, beer and wine, plus discounted food. The restaurant continues its monthly spirits seminars and tastings. Recent ones included rum; an agave one is coming. Also, this summer includes the monthly Collab with Chefs — visiting chefs cook up special menus.

See for more info. Open daily at 4 p.m.; Sunday brunch, 11 a.m.-3 p.m.

In brief
Bella Reina Spa in Delray Beach will begin Teapot Tuesdays on July 16. A program of education about tea with a certified tea master features a lunch and tea service, with information about the flowers teas are made from, and a talk about the “glow” of teas. For reservations, call 561-404-7670 or email ... Oceano Kitchen, which moved from Lantana to Lake Worth Beach last year, has closed till probably November, says owner Jeremy Bearman. It’s being renovated with outdoor modifications for guests’ comfort.

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