By Jane Smith
The big reveal for Town Square will come March 13.
That’s when Boynton Beach staff will unveil the final cost to residents and the prices the city-owned parcels will fetch from developers to build apartments, a hotel and a public parking garage, City Manager Lori LaVerriere told city commissioners on Feb. 20.
At the same meeting, commissioners approved changing the land use and rezoning of seven city-owned parcels in the 16-acre Town Square project area by 4-1 votes. They also approved the master plan for the project by a 4-1 vote.
Town Square consists of four blocks, bordered by Boynton Beach Boulevard on the north, Seacrest Boulevard on the west, Southeast Second Avenue on the south and Northeast First Street on the east. The project will hold the historic high school, the Schoolhouse Children’s Museum, a combined City Hall and library building, and a parking garage.
A new Fire Station No. 1 will sit just outside the project on the east side of Northeast First Street.
Commissioner Mack McCray voted no three times because he doesn’t think the city has the money to do the ambitious project, estimated to cost $133 million.
Boynton Beach plans to issue private equity bonds that it will pay off in 25 years, said Colin Groff, the assistant city manager leading the Town Square project.
The city’s Community Redevelopment Agency received county approval in January to use tax dollars to build the city hall and a fire station. Its share will be $81 million over 25 years, just before the agency will sunset.
The plan calls for the current library to be demolished. At the Feb. 20 meeting, resident Herb Suss said the library is a fairly new building and pleaded with commissioners not to tear it down. “That’s a no-no,” he said.
The library has leaks, said Vice Mayor Justin Katz. It would be more costly to fix and move City Hall to another site than it would be to demolish the library and build a combination building that houses City Hall and the library, he said.
Before the library is demolished, the city will have to find a temporary location. The historic Woman’s Club building was considered initially. But it does not have enough parking, and the historic nature of the building would make it difficult to do renovations needed to house the library, Groff said.
The city is looking at five sites, Groff said in late February. In addition, he is trying to find a 5,000-square-foot building near the current library for people who walk to the library to use, he said.
The historic high school renovation is expected to be finished in August. The city received a reprieve in December when the 4th District Court of Appeal dismissed a 4-year-old lawsuit. Architect Juan Contin sued the city over its decision not to let him go forward with a plan to turn the high school into an events and destination center. He lost on the lower court level.
The appellate review board did not issue an opinion, which means Contin cannot appeal the decision to the Florida Supreme Court.
By Jane Smith