By Steve Plunkett
The developer of a planned restaurant at the city-owned Wildflower site on the Intracoastal has withdrawn its proposal, complaining about a demand from Boca Raton for “several millions more” in rent.
“The restaurant business is one of very narrow margins,” Glenn Viers, vice president of the Hillstone Restaurant Group, said in a letter to the city Oct. 22 announcing the withdrawal.
The higher rent, combined with escalating property taxes, “would stretch Hillstone beyond reasonably acceptable financial limits,” Viers wrote.
The restaurant group had proposed building a $10 million Houston’s restaurant at the northwest base of the Palmetto Park Road bridge. It already operates a Houston’s off Glades Road just west of Interstate 95.
Boca Raton held a workshop in October 2011 to gauge interest in developing the site, which the city bought in 2009 for $7.5 million. After an initial flurry of excitement, only the Hillstone group submitted a formal bid to lease the land.
The 2.3-acre now-vacant parcel once was home of the raucous Wildflower bar and restaurant. Neighbors of the site fear a restaurant there will overload Northeast Fifth Avenue with traffic and illegally parked cars.
As recently as Sept. 1, Viers showed the Boca Raton Federation of Homeowners Associations the latest renderings of the project and said he thought it would be finished in 2017.