By Christine Davis
Fans of Trader Joe’s are ready, waiting and hungry for the Boca Raton store to open at 855 S. Federal Highway. And, while they thought they might be waiting even longer when an onsite problem with power lines cropped up, the Sept. 26 opening date still stands.
The city requires that power lines be buried at new development sites because its safer in severe weather — and it looks better. That’s the bottom-line story, and the city is sticking to it.
Problem was, burying the lines meant fewer parking spaces, explains Charles Siemon, the lawyer representing the site’s developer, 8ST, LLC.
“The number of spaces that would be lost, compared to the benefits of burying the power lines, that tradeoff wasn’t worthwhile; but the city decided they wanted them underground, nevertheless.”
Trader Joe’s will be the anchor at East City Center, but there will also be a bank building and some office and retail space. Originally, 130 parking spots were planned, and burying the lines will do away with six of them.
At this point, “We will still have a little more than the required number, but due to the popularity of Trader Joe’s, we were trying to provide as much parking as we could,” Siemon says. “My client thought this was an important issue, but the city considered burying the lines more important.
“We’ve been working with the city and we have an understanding of what we are going to do, the sequence of events, open on time, and get those lines underground. We’ve resolved the issue.”
The city, he adds, has been analyzing parking, and it might be that some nearby public parking on the street may be allocated to one-hour public parking, and that would benefit shoppers.
Mayor Susan Haynie said, “The developers made the request for relief from burying the power lines, asking to be heard on tonight’s agenda (City Council meeting, July 22), but they withdrew that request last week, so burying the lines continues to be a condition of approval. They spoke to members of the council individually, and I assume that there wasn’t much support to keep the lines overhead.”
As of July 22, she said, lines were still standing and she hadn’t seen any activity.
While Haynie has never shopped at a Trader Joe’s, she said, “Everyone I know who has is very excited about it being here. Trader Joe’s has quite a following for a grocery store. I’m looking forward to them opening. And burying their power lines.”
Bottom line (unburied): Trader Joe’s has confirmed its opening date in Boca Raton: Friday, Sept. 26. ;