The Coastal Star

Boca Raton: Elad tower plan changes architect, project scope

By Mary Hladky

The New Mizner on the Green “ultra-luxury” condo project has a new name, a new architect and a completely new look.

 The project’s prominent “starchitect” Daniel Libeskind, whose list of credits includes the original master plan for rebuilding the World Trade Center in New York and the Jewish Museum in Berlin, is out. West Palm Beach-based architectural firm Garcia Stromberg is in.

 City officials and activists who have been told about the changes have not yet seen renderings and can’t recall the project’s new name. But they said the developer, Elad National Properties, has followed through on its assurances in January of significant downsizing.

 Gone are original plans for four towers, with the tallest reaching 30 stories, that had stirred outcry from residents who do not want high-rises in the downtown.

 Instead, six steel-and-glass buildings are envisioned. Four will rise as high as 160 feet, the maximum allowed under interim design guidelines for a portion of downtown. But that will still be more than the 120-foot limit in place at the project’s location on nine acres on Southeast Mizner Boulevard near the Boca Raton Resort & Club, and the developer would need approval from the city.

 The two other “live and work” buildings would be shorter.

 “It is not the same architecture at all” as the Libeskind design, said Boca Raton Mayor Susan Haynie.

 It is not clear when Elad will unveil its new plans, although some city activists expect that to happen soon.

 Garcia Stromberg chief executive Jorge Garcia declined comment and referred questions to Bill Shewalter, Elad’s senior executive officer. Shewalter also declined comment, saying only that “we have no plans in front of the city” at present.

 Garcia Stromberg’s Boca Raton projects include One Thousand Ocean condos, the Boca Raton Beach Club and renovations of the Boca Raton Hotel.

 Ann Witte, a financial and economic consultant who is on the board of BocaWatch.org, a city watchdog website, said one concern is that the views of owners in some existing buildings would be blocked by the new project.

 “We will work with (the developer) so the project impacts neighboring landowners as little as possible,” said Witte, who lives in Townsend Place condos, which would be affected. She wants the city to limit the height to 120 feet for all six buildings.

 Antonia Gore, a Townsend Place resident who is active in BocaWatch.org and the newly-formed BocaBeautiful.org, thinks Elad’s plan all along may have been to first propose high-rises and then scale back in hopes of getting city approval for the height now proposed.

 “Everyone would have a sigh of relief” upon seeing the shorter buildings, she said. “That is probably what they are hoping.”

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