6:57 p.m. EST, November 18, 2013
A new proposal would mean more rentals in downtown Boca Raton — but this could be the first time they are renting by the night.
Plans were submitted to the city last week for a 200-room, 13-story Hyatt Place Hotel for the corner of Federal Highway and East Palmetto Park Road.
If approved, it wouldn't be the first time plans for a downtown hotel have gotten an official nod. But it's the first time that a downtown hotel proposal has a named franchise operator.
"We're extremely excited to see the project come in and add one more element to our diverse mix of uses in the downtown," said Ruby Childers, downtown manager for the city of Boca.
Representatives for the Hyatt could not be reached for further comment, despite calls. Childers said it's too early to say when city Approvals will be completed and construction can begin.
The location, at the southeast corner of Federal Highway and East Palmetto Park Road, is currently being used for a staging area to build The Mark at Cityscape, a 208-unit rental complex. The site had been approved for a hotel previously, but this is a different project altogether, Childers said.
Glenn Gromann, chairman of the Downtown Boca Raton Advisory Committee, said that having a brand-name like the Hyatt involved in a project marks a particular turning point for downtown.
"We've got the demographic to attract a franchise of this caliber," Gromann said, citing the location's proximity to the beach on one side and shopping at Mizner Park on the other. "They will be relying on downtown to draw guests."
Plans show the hotel would be 13 stories and rise up to 140 feet – making it among the tallest in the city's skyline. Accommodations would be as large as 820 square feet for some of the units – larger than some of the rental apartments that have recently come through the city approval process.
The volume of downtown residential units – set to double in number when existing approvals are built out – has become the focus of some residents' protest. But the majority of City Council members have contended that more people living downtown are needed to increase retail activity there.
A downtown hotel has been one of the missing pieces among the approved uses.
The Via Mizner project planned for the corner of Federal Highway and Camino Real also has a hotel approved for the second phase of its plans. Derek Vander Ploeg, the architect in charge of the project, says the first phase of the project — 366 rental units — will start before the end of next year's first quarter.
And fast on the heels of that complex's completion, he expects work will begin on a hotel of 118 to 128 rooms. He said he expects it to be a "boutique hotel" like the Four Seasons, but he's not at liberty to add more.
"It's of five-star caliber," he said.
For most of Boca's recent history, the Boca Raton Resort & Club has dominated the hospitality scene in Boca. But its appeal to big conventions and people seeking a resort experience is more specific than what an operation such as the Hyatt would offer, said the downtown committee's Gromann.
Tourists — those who are looking for a downtown to frequent when they visit — have not had an option like this, he added.
"I think it's really, really positive because obviously the chain (Hyatt) has seen the demographics of downtown Boca" improving, he said, pointing to the arrival of Lord & Taylor and Trade Joe's. "Plus it introduces people to Boca on an ongoing basis."
Ageggis@tribune.com or 561-243-6624