An overview of the development plan for the new Town Square shows two buildings,north and south of City Hall, with 898 luxury rentals and about 23,000 square feet of commercial space, plus a hotel and two parking garages with a total of 2,338 spaces. The rendering shows the corner of Boynton Beach and Seacrest boulevards. Rendering provided
By Tao Woolfe
The Boynton Beach City Commission — following a marathon meeting on Feb. 21 lasting until 2 a.m. — granted several approvals to a reimagined Town Square, which will be the largest development in the city’s history.
The overall development plan includes:
• 898 luxury rental apartments spread out into two 80-foot-tall buildings and over four city blocks
• About 23,000 square feet of commercial space
• A hotel
• Interior courtyards filled with trees, a swimming pool and other amenities
• Two parking garages with a total of 2,338 spaces, some 533 of which would be for the public and city employees.
The approvals were granted to Time Equities Inc., a New York-based developer that will take over the long-stalled project from JKM BTS Capital LLC.
Under Boynton Beach’s original agreement with JKM, the $250 million Town Square project was to comprise a mix of municipal buildings and privately developed apartment buildings, a hotel, restaurants and shops.
In return, the city agreed to give JKM the three parcels of land, to pay almost $2 million in cash to the developer and to provide underground water and sewer lines.
The project’s lead developer, E2L Real Estate Solutions, did complete the public buildings — City Hall, the library and an amphitheater — but JKM failed to deliver on the 2,000-space parking garages and the residential and commercial mixed-use project slated for 15.5 acres between Boynton Beach Boulevard and Southeast Second Avenue.
The city sued JKM in November 2020. That suit is still pending, but will be dismissed once several pieces of a recent settlement agreement fall into place.
The major terms of the settlement agreement include:
• The city will be paid $4.5 million by JKM.
• The developer will pay the city another $100,000 in attorneys’ fees for related litigation.
• JKM will sell three parcels of land conveyed by the city for the project to another developer.
• As part of the purchase agreement, the new developer must agree to provide sufficient parking for the project as well as sufficient public parking.
“If any of the conditions are not satisfied, the Settlement Agreement will become null and void,” the agreement stipulates.
The city’s approval of Time Equities’ proposal is the first step toward moving the stalled project forward.
“The project is the largest in the city’s history and has costs close to half a billion dollars,” City Manager Dan Dugger said at the outset of the Feb. 21 meeting. “The scope is so great. The potential is equally great.”
The scope, however, was criticized by members of the public who asked that the density be lessened.
“This is not the downtown the city has been talking about,” said Courtlandt McQuire, a nightclub owner and member of the Planning and Development Board. “It’s high-density housing. Planning and development did not vote in favor of it.”
But the prevailing sentiment among the speakers was that the city is lucky to have such a qualified developer willing to step in to finish the failed project.
“You’ve got a competent, reputable builder here,” said resident Harry Woodworth. “Do we need more lawyers? Do we need more litigation? This is one of the better developments I’ve seen.”
“Density is on the high side, but it’s not Boynton Bland,” said resident Michael Wilson. “This packs in quite a bit of architectural design.”
Robert Singer, Time Equities development director, said the company had worked hard with the city staff to come up with a proposal that has less density — and more amenities — than those outlined by the city’s zoning code.
For example, he said, the new mixed-use city code approved in January allows for 962 dwelling units; building heights of up to 99 feet, and only 10,000 square feet of retail space. The proposal calls for 898 dwelling units, 80-foot building heights, and more than doubles the retail space.
The 28-foot setbacks from the street, designed to make the complex more friendly for pedestrians, are nearly triple the 10-foot setbacks required by code.
“This is a marriage,” Singer said. “It does require some trust.”
After some discussion about further limiting the density, commission members agreed to trust that the developer would not come back to the city to request more units.
Singer said a study found that the flow of traffic would be “sufficient” once the complex is built.
Under an agreement option, Time Equities has elected to pay $4.5 million into a housing trust fund to subsidize workforce housing units in other parts of the city. The program is known as payment-in-lieu of construction of workforce housing.
Time Equities must make the payment — which breaks down into 123 rental units at about $37,000 per unit — when the building permit is issued, Assistant City Manager Adam Temple said after the meeting.
The next steps will be site plan approvals for the next two phases from the City Commission and the Planning and Development Board; permitting; and construction.
Neither the developer nor the city planning staff said how long it might be before the shovels hit the ground or how long construction will take.
Once all the approvals have been gathered, the Town Square developer has 5.5 years to finish the project, according to terms of the agreement.