By Steve Plunkett

    The proposed Houston’s restaurant at the old Wildflower site will have a breathtaking view of the Intracoastal Waterway, but it won’t have docks, the developer says.
    And a fence will block access on the waterfront walkway to the boat launch area at adjacent Silver Palm Park, said Glenn Viers, vice president of the Hillstone Restaurant Group, which the city chose to build the eatery.
    Viers told a crowded Sept.1 meeting of the Federation of Boca Raton Homeowner Associations that his company was simply reacting to the concerns of boaters who want to protect Silver Palm Park from restaurant traffic.
    “Really, the only way that we felt that we could effectively deal with that was to put a fence up,” he said.
    The restaurant will not have docks because the Intracoastal’s right of way comes too close to shore and the waterway’s bed is filled with sensitive plant life.
    “We’ve looked into it, and we’ll continue to look into it, but the indications are that it’s infeasible,” Viers said.
    Neither proposal went over big with the audience.
    “You really need to get the city to work with you, the county, whoever it is, to get the … dockage. That is important,” resident Craig Ehrnst said. “And No. 2, the whole idea of a fence that’s underneath there in Silver Palm Park, I understand the logic and the development of how it got there, but it defeats the mobile, pedestrian-friendly city we are. And that would just be a tragedy.”
    The restaurant, originally projected to open in December, will not be ready for business until sometime in 2017, Viers said. The one-story structure will be 7,000 square feet, smaller than the 7,800-square-foot Houston’s the company operates off Glades Road west of Interstate 95.
    Viers said the new Houston’s would have 30 tables inside, an undetermined number outside and 11 more parking spaces than the code-required 120. The entrance will be on Northeast Fifth Avenue, and the restaurant, he said, will offer “some of the best views available of the Intracoastal in South Florida.”
    Houston’s will rent the land from the city for $500,000 a year plus 5 percent of any gross above $10 million. Boca Raton bought the 2.3-acre parcel at the northwest base of the Palmetto Park Road bridge in 2009 for $7.5 million.
    Any issues with traffic are the responsibility of the city, Viers said, as is changing the zoning for the parcel.
    Viers also said the restaurant, at the former site of the raucous Wildflower restaurant and bar, would be vigilant about keeping noise down.
    “We’re committed to being a good neighbor,” he said.
    The city’s marine advisory board, its planning and zoning board and the City Council are scheduled to discuss the restaurant this month.

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