The Coastal Star

Some give a ‘wild thought’ or two to Boynton’s future

By Hector Florin

BOYNTON BEACH — Executives of a company responsible for one of the city’s largest developments have recently held discussions with city leaders to offer ideas for the future location of government buildings and downtown redevelopment.

Mayor Jerry Taylor and City Manager Kurt Bressner met with the developers before the Dec. 16 City Commission meeting. At the meeting, Taylor brought up the subject of a company’s having an interest in finding a new location for City Hall as part of a land swap, he said in an interview. The mayor said he brought up during the meeting tying in the 1927 high school as part of any plans. “That was just me throwing out a wild thought,” Taylor said.

Taylor did not identify the company, though Vice Mayor Jose Rodriguez later confirmed it was executives with Compson Associates, which developed Renaissance Commons, the mixed-use project at Gateway Boulevard and Congress Avenue. Rodriguez said he met with Jim Comparato and Robert D’Angelo of Compson days after the commission meeting. In an interview, Rodriguez spoke of the company’s ideas for a series of property swaps, including moving a new public safety building, now proposed at Gateway and High Ridge Road, to Renaissance Commons.

The company said it could accommodate the facility at half the current $31 million price tag, according to Rodriguez.

The talks also tied into moving City Hall departments to Renaissance Commons at a later date, and allow Compson to consider building a mixed-use development at City Hall ’s current location on East Boynton Beach Boulevard.

The city would have to open up proposals to any and all persons or companies if any of these ideas are considered, Rodriguez said. “It’s very preliminary,” he added. “We have historically had tons of developers approach us with things like this. At the end of the day, some of them never step up to the plate.” Phone messages left with Comparato and D’Angelo were not returned. Taylor — who opposes spending taxpayer money to save the historic, yet rundown, high school — brought up tying its future into these discussions and the City Hall property. But Rodriguez said he proposed a commission vote that would link development talks with saving the high school, which the board supported.

The Mediterranean Revival-style building’s future has been a constant topic in recent years, with commissioners in October voting to find ways to save the structure.

Completely restoring it would cost millions of dollars, though Rodriguez said a company that submits a bid for downtown redevelopment projects could get additional consideration if renovating the school is part of the plan.

“I know it’s expensive, but we haven’t really given it the opportunity,” Rodriguez said. “I think it’s important to have a mixture of new and old in our city. It’s great architecture that we should be saving.” Rodriguez foresees civic and senior groups now spread throughout the city using the building, and perhaps even adding office space. “There won’t be a problem with usage,” he said.
Architect William Manly King designed the school, which was last occupied by students of Boynton Beach Elementary in the 1980s, according to the Boynton Beach Historical Society and city library archives.

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