When The Coastal Star started publishing back in 2008, the downtowns of Boca Raton, Delray Beach and Boynton Beach were hopping on the weekends and holidays, but pretty quiet the rest of the time. Atlantic Crossing in Delray Beach was still being proposed as Atlantic Plaza II, construction had just begun on Las Ventanas (now called One Boynton) in Boynton Beach, and a downtown advisory committee had recently been established as a “means to obtain input and recommendations on the present and future and redevelopment of downtown Boca Raton.”
When the stock market crashed on Sept. 29 and the bubbling champagne of real estate speculation turned to molasses, project plans were put on hold as financing became difficult.
As a result, the downtown areas sat quiet for a few years until the market began its gradual climb back to today’s astronomical heights. As the market reached for the sky, so did downtown development. Now the construction crane is omnipresent along the Federal Highway corridor.
With this downtown building boom have come controversy and lawsuits, nasty politics and community organizing. Through all the battles, the construction has continued and by the end of 2018, these downtown areas will be vastly changed from what they were in 2008.
Those of us who live across the bridges from the rising downtown construction recognize the benefits of this development to the larger cities. We know that an increased tax base helps pay for public services. Since those of us on the barrier island depend on the public services provided by the cities across the bridges, we know that quality of service matters.
And we don’t want blight along the north/south corridor. We want safe, compelling, walkable downtowns with friendly, public areas. Many of the developments rising across the bridges are trying to work with their neighbors to build something acceptable to current residents as well as new. Some are not.
With this edition we begin a three-part series on the maturing of the downtown areas of Boca Raton, Boynton Beach and Delray Beach. We are taking a close look at the current status of the building boom and projected growth.
With 2018 just around the corner, it’s a good time to look at this urban growth and the impact it will have on the face and pace of our coastal communities in the coming decade.
— Mary Kate Leming, Editor