The Coastal Star

Boca Raton: We can’t legally sell Ocean Strand, district learns

By Steve Plunkett

The undeveloped Ocean Strand parcel, 15 acres straddling State Road A1A from the Atlantic to the Intracoastal Waterway, cannot be sold, its owner has been told.

“The expressed intent under our special act is to acquire, operate and maintain beach and park property. Noticeably absent from our enumerated powers is the power to sell or to convey,” Jacob Horowitz, a lawyer for the Greater Boca Raton Beach and Park District, told district commissioners Oct. 7. “We have the power to acquire; we do not have the legal authority to convey or otherwise sell.”

Municipalities and some special districts do have the power to sell property, Horowitz said. “We don’t have that authority under our special act,” he said.

Commissioners immediately directed their staff to notify developer Robert Comparato that they could not consider his offer to buy Ocean Strand for $67.5 million.

“I can’t tell you how delighted I am to hear this,” said Commissioner Steve Engel, who in the past promised residents that the property would only be sold “over my dead body.”

The district bought Ocean Strand in 1994 for $11.9 million.

In his unsolicited Sept. 11 proposal, Comparato said 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 proposed swapping the two parcels for Ocean Strand and giving the district $51.5 million — enough, he said, 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.

The developer planned to build a five-star 171-room hotel, 110 condominiums, 30 villas and 35 boat slips at Ocean Strand.

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