By Steve Plunkett
Developer Robert Comparato is offering $67.5 million to buy Ocean Strand, 15 undeveloped acres straddling State Road A1A from the ocean to the Intracoastal Waterway.
In an unsolicited proposal to the Greater Boca Raton Beach and Park District, which owns the property, Comparato says he “holds or will hold” contracts to purchase 2500 and 2600 N. Ocean Blvd., two beachfront parcels that were denied variances this year to build four-story residences.
Comparato proposes exchanging the two parcels for Ocean Strand and giving the district $51.5 million in cash—enough, he says, to build a new golf course, expand and renovate the Gumbo Limbo Nature Center, and create a new “Parks for All People” inside Spanish River Park.
A five-star 171-room hotel, 110 condominiums, 30 villas and 35 boat slips would be built at Ocean Strand in Comparato’s plan. The purchase price would be reduced on a per-unit basis if his Compson Boca Group LLC were not able to win needed government approvals.
The Ocean Strand property east of A1A would be “deed restricted so as to prohibit any use thereof for purposes other than beach related uses and beach access,” the proposal states.
Beach and Park District Chairwoman Susan Vogelgesang, who received the proposal Sept. 11, passed out copies to commissioners at the end of their meeting that night. She said she would also forward copies to the City Council.
“I have not read it,” she said. “I don’t think that this is for us to agree on right now. I think it should be something that the city sees, and we negotiate with the city.”
Commissioner Steve Engel, who in the past has said Ocean Strand would be privately developed “over my dead body,” immediately repeated his opposition.
“It’s got to be rejected out of hand,” Engel said.
The district and the City Council will meet jointly to discuss the district’s proposed Boca National golf course at 5 p.m. Sept 12 at 6500 Congress Ave. Council members have offered to take over building an 18-hole course if the district does not raise its tax rate 36 percent.
District commissioners Sept. 11 lowered their proposed millage to $1.0519 per $1,000 of taxable value, a 19.4 percent increase over this year’s rate.
Comparato’s figures set aside about $27 million for the golf course and about $24.8 million for Gumbo Limbo. He is valuing 2500 and 2600 N. Ocean Blvd. together at roughly $16 million.
His $67.5 million offer nearly matches the $67.6 million private appraisal the Beach and Park District got for Ocean Strand in June. District commissioners asked for the appraisal with the thought of selling the property to the city and using the funds for the golf course and Gumbo Limbo.
The district bought Ocean Strand in 1994 for $11.9 million.
A proposal in 2010 to build a private cabana club on the site sparked a firestorm of resident outrage.