By Mary Hladky
The Related Group is making a new pitch to the city to build an indoor performing arts center downtown while also buying city-owned land to build about 300 luxury apartments.
In another sign of its interest in doing projects in the city, Related also has proposed a public-private partnership with Florida Atlantic University that would include a convention center, hotel, apartments and retail on 30 acres on the southeast portion of its Boca Raton campus.
“The Related Group wants to do a lot more development deals in Palm Beach County,” said Glenn Gromann, an independent consultant with Related. “We are looking at a lot of deals in Boca Raton … and also in Delray Beach.”
While Related has made the overtures, the city and FAU have taken no action. Related has said it is willing to amend its proposals to align with the city’s and FAU’s needs.
“We have put that [proposal] out there for discussion and ideas,” Gromann said of Related’s communication with the university.
City officials have said they can’t reach any agreements with Related until they are further along in planning a new downtown governmental campus on 30 city-owned acres around City Hall.
FAU Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater met with Related Group representatives once in a “courtesy” visit, Joshua Glanzer, the university’s assistant vice president for media relations and public affairs, said in an email.
“While a hotel and convention center has long been part of FAU’s master plan, the project is a very long way from reality, and before it is, many policies and procedures must be followed before development partnerships are established,” he said.
Related’s offer to the Boca Raton City Council is a redo of one made in July that ignited controversy.
Related proposed building a 1,500-seat indoor performing arts center and adjacent parking garage in the new downtown campus.
In return, the city would give Related about 3.6 city-owned acres in the northeast section of Mizner Park, where the developer would tear down the aging outdoor amphitheater and build as many as 400 residential units, retail space and a parking garage the public also could use.
But that idea died a quick death after residents objected to the loss of the beloved amphitheater, and city officials are now considering putting a retractable roof on it or possibly redesigning it.
The latest Related proposal, outlined in a Nov. 30 letter to the City Council, calls for an indoor performing arts center and parking garage in the downtown campus or whatever other location the city chooses.
Related, South Florida’s largest luxury condo developer also known for its large mixed-use projects, would buy the city-owned “old library” that now houses city offices and land north of it located east of Boca Raton Boulevard between Northwest Fourth and Second streets. The “old library” would be torn down to make way for about 300 luxury apartments.
“The new proposal is a win-win for the city,” Gromann said. The money from the land sale “can be used for the performing arts center or whatever else the city wants to do.”
William Shewalter, Related’s senior vice president for development, set out his ideas for FAU in a Nov. 1 letter to Atwater in what he envisions as a $250 million project.
Related would develop about 120,000 square feet of retail and 360 luxury apartments on 27 acres along Glades Road west of El Rio Trail. The target market for the rentals would be graduate or medical students.
The retail would include full-service and fast-casual restaurants, “entertainment oriented components” and a grocery store or possibly a pharmacy.
Related or a hotel developer would build a 150-room hotel on 3 acres, and a 400-space parking lot would be located on the western edge of the project.
Related would build the 25,000- to 30,000-square-foot convention center, but FAU would pay for it and would own it.
FAU would realize $34 million if such a deal is reached.
In his letter, Shewalter describes the proposal as “initial ideas” and said Related would be very flexible.
Shewalter could not be reached for comment. But in a November email to university officials, he wrote, “I wanted to share with the entire team an exciting opportunity to partner with Related Development on what we feel would be financially positive to the university, an iconic place making a statement and would enhance the student and faculty experience at FAU.”
While Related is extremely active in Miami-Dade and Broward counties, it also has a presence in Palm Beach County.
Its projects include the Boca Grand condo in downtown Boca Raton, SofA rentals in Delray Beach, Slade condos in West Palm Beach and Marina Village mixed-use project in Boynton Beach, according to its website.
Do we know if the plans with Related and FAU are moving forward? The LWDD just clear cut a beautiful row of 7 story trees down Glades in this same area the first week of May. One might allege a hand shake to get rid of these ahead of the project. Residents were outraged at the devastation to the area. Glades can’t handle any more traffic. What would the traffic impact be to the surrounding if FAU’s convention center plus apartments are realized. Traffic at University Commons is already a nightmare.