By Mary Hladky
After the developer of the luxury Alina Residences Boca Raton condo and nearby residents reached a compromise in November, it appeared as if the developer’s request to build the project in two phases was on a glide path to approval.
But another snag developed on Dec. 10, when Boca Raton City Council members, sitting as Community Redevelopment Agency commissioners, were set to vote on developer El-Ad National Properties’ phasing plan.
CRA chair Andrea O’Rourke suggested delaying the vote because some of the parties to the compromise had not delivered information to city staffers in time for them to review it and make a recommendation to the CRA.
“I am not prepared to vote for or against something the staff has not reviewed,” she said.
El-Ad attorney Bonnie Miskel insisted she and downtown property owner Investments Limited met the deadline. Development Services Director Brandon Schaad disagreed.
Miskel pressed for a quick city decision because El-Ad has been waiting for 10 months.
After much back and forth, Schaad seemed willing to accept assurances that what Robert Eisen of Investments Limited submitted to the city already had been reviewed by staff and would not require a lengthy additional analysis.
By a 4-1 tally, with only Andy Thomson dissenting, council members postponed the vote. But they will take up the matter at their Jan. 7 meeting to avoid a long delay.
Miskel and Noam Ziv, El-Ad’s executive director of development, declined to comment immediately after the meeting.
El-Ad plans to build its three-tower, 384-unit project on nearly 9 acres along Southeast Mizner Boulevard, replacing the run-down Mizner on the Green townhouses.
Alina Residences, formerly known as Mizner 200, is one of the most contentious projects in the city’s history. Downtown residents complained that it was too massive and a symbol of downtown overdevelopment.
El-Ad made concessions on building design, landscaping and setbacks that eventually won over critics, and the project was approved in 2017.
But when El-Ad returned to the city in late 2018 asking to build the project in phases, residents of neighboring Townsend Place condominium cried foul. They said they had a deal with El-Ad and the developer was reneging.
In the compromise, Townsend Place residents dropped their initial objections to phasing but got a promise that El-Ad would enhance landscaping in the southern portion of a pedestrian promenade along Mizner Boulevard right away, rather than when construction begins on Phase 2, with further improvements made as Phase 2 is completed as was promised in 2017.
Additional enhanced landscaping would be planted between Alina Residences and Townsend Place.
Miskel said the new landscaping plan would cost the developer $500,000.
Investments Limited was assured that Alina Residences’ design cannot be changed when Phase 2 is built and will maintain spaces between the three condo towers that allow for eastward views to the ocean.
Investments Limited wants to redevelop its Royal Palm Place across the street from Alina Residences.
Townsend Place residents got their chance to sound off about Alina Residences at the meeting. Even though they dropped their opposition to phasing, they don’t like it.
They will face the noise and disruption of construction for far longer if the project is not built all at once. And they worry that Phase 2 will not be built if market conditions change or the condos don’t sell. If that happens, and the land is sold, they won’t know what a future owner will want to build.
“We will be left with an area that has dilapidated townhouses. We don’t know what will happen with them. We don’t know what will happen if there is a sale,” said Norman Waxman, a Townsend Place condo board member.