By Sallie James
A plan to build a controversial 49-foot-tall, 14,270-square-foot duplex and a mansion on the north end of Boca Raton’s beach is slated for review Oct. 18 by the city’s Environmental Advisory Board.
The EAB advises the Planning and Zoning Board and the City Council about the possible environmental impact of proposed development and recommends ways to minimize adverse environmental impacts.
Exactly what can be built on privately owned oceanfront property has been a hot topic in Boca Raton since 2015, when a four-story mega-mansion was tentatively approved for an undersized oceanfront parcel at 2500 N. Ocean Blvd.
The duplex is proposed to be built at 2600 N. Ocean Blvd.
Residents complained at the time that the structure would change the face of the beach, disorient nesting sea turtles and set a precedent for more development. That project has not yet been constructed.
“It’s a big deal,” said Councilwoman Andrea O’Rourke. “I understand the staff is not recommending it. The EAB will then have to take the staff report into consideration, their own findings into consideration and what the petitioner wants to build there. Then the EAB makes a recommendation that will ultimately come to City Council.”
O’Rourke was not on the City Council when the first residence was approved in 2015. She said it was that approval that spurred her to eventually run for City Council.
“At the time I was up in arms,” O’Rourke said.
The EAB will base its recommendation on environmental impact, she said.
“It’s just a question of whether the land is viable to build on,” O’Rourke said.
City resident Jessica Gray formed the group Boca Save Our Beaches after the first project was proposed, and has been vocal in her opposition to any beachside construction.
“We need to preserve what is left of nature for future generations, and respect the habitat of other organisms, who lived here first,” Gray said.
Boca Save Our Beaches opposes both projects and posts its opposition regularly on Facebook.
“Here you have it: a green sign of death at 2600 N. Ocean. Coming soon, construction at a beach near you!!” read an August post. “Once our beaches are gone, we can never get them back. Say no to $$$$ and yes to the environment.”
The proposed structure for 2600 N. Ocean Blvd. is imposing. Each side of the duplex will have four bedrooms, five full baths, one half-bath, a glass elevator and a four-car garage, according to Delray Beach-based Azure Development, which is marketing the site. It would also have a 40-foot boardwalk and a rooftop swimming pool.
No sale price has been set for the duplex.
Gray is especially concerned about the long-term impact on endangered sea turtles.
“When the 2500 and the 2600 N. Ocean structures are completed, the turtles nesting on the property will be forced to nest closer to the erosion control line, which would put them at more risk of destruction by wave action and washout,” she said.
Gray is also worried about erosion if the dunes are compromised due to construction.
“The dunes of 2500 and 2600 will be permanently destroyed and almost nonexistent. Dune systems protect existing buildings west of the Coastal Construction Control Line during storms,” she noted. “When a large dune is not present, more damage is done by wind and water to the west side of A1A.”