Florida Trend | Florida's Business Authority

Growing pains: With development has come protest

For a barometer of the growth downtown Boca Raton has seen, look to the rise of local opposition. In November, Boca voters overwhelmingly approved a vapidly worded referendum to keep city waterfront property on the Intracoastal for public use such as recreation. The unacknowledged impetus for the referendum was a 2. 2-acre nightclub parcel the city acquired in 2009 for $7.5 million and envisioned leasing to a restaurant group to bring waterfront dining to a city oddly short on it.

Plans for the site became a flashpoint for groups that think downtown Boca has become too developed and too congested. Since the recession ended, pent-up development has roared back in Boca: Two hotels (a Hyatt finished, a Mandarin Oriental on the way), residential units and mixeduse projects.

Plantation-based Elad National Properties’ proposed 384-condo project has drawn particular ire. “The straw that broke the camel’s back,” says John Gorce, president of Boca- Beautiful, which has run ads calling the project “The Monster on Mizner … longer than the Eiffel Tower is tall.” Opponents decry downtown traffic and say their neighborhoods suffer while downtown becomes an amenity for people who live in neighborhoods farther out from the core.

Others say the city merely is following a plan and development rights endorsed by residents decades ago to turn the then flagging downtown into a place where people live, work, shop and play. “There are growing pains,” says city council member Robert Weinroth, who says the city is working on solutions for issues such as traffic, but “we are looking at and seeing the city growing and become more exciting” with a vibrant culture, economically viable small businesses and restaurants and great places to live.

Supporters of the November referendum see their victory as a wider vote on development in general. Others aren’t convinced. Who wouldn’t be in favor of city land being for public use? A city council election in March will clarify downtown’s direction.

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During the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show, the Greater Fort Lauderdale Alliance and the Marine Industries Association of South Florida convened a regionwide panel discussion. The panel featured South Florida university presidents and representatives from FAU, FIU, NSU and UM and marine research deans, economic development organizations and elected officials to discuss branding a Marine Research Hub initiative to support awareness, collaboration and investment in marine research throughout South Florida. The group will reconvene to move forward in the coming months.

Business Briefs

BOCA RATON — Boca-based theater chain iPic Entertainment has partnered with Netflix to show select original Netflix films in its theaters. Florida Atlantic University, the Broward, St. Lucie and Palm Beach school districts and the Florida Department of Education received a $5.6-million grant as part of a $47-million initiative from the Wallace Foundation to develop models for providing university training and certification for school principals and assistant principals. FAU will be guided by the University of Denver, nationally recognized for its training program.

FORT LAUDERDALE — Silver Airways partnered with Embry- Riddle Aeronautical University and the state to offer financial assistance and training opportunities for aspiring pilots. Grant money will cover certifi- cation costs and aircraft rental, fuel and simulators. Keystone- Florida Property Holding downsized redevelopment plans for its Galleria mall, dropping plans for a hotel and office space and proposing to build 1,250 residential units as well as retail, restaurant and event space and parking decks on surface lots around the existing mall. Original plans called for 1,640 units, plus the hotel, office space and more retail. Emirates Airlines began daily non-stop service from Fort Lauderdale- Hollywood International Airport to Dubai, a 14-hour flight. Emirates’ flight is the latest in new international service from airlines including JetBlue and Norwegian Air Shuttle. Home improvement store Lowe’s opened its first Orchard Supply Hardware, its home and garden subsidiary, in south Florida in Fort Lauderdale. It’s also opening in Coral Springs, Sunrise and Deerfield Beach as part of a Florida-wide rollout this year.

The Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show closed its annual run in November with a 5% increase in attendance.

INDIANTOWN — FPL purchased for $451.5 million a Calypso Energy coal plant with the intent of shutting it down. The utility argued, and the state Public Service Commission agreed, that allowing FPL to buy and close the plant would save ratepayers $129 million over nine years compared to the cost of keeping its longterm contract to buy energy from Calypso. A new natural gas pipeline into Florida this year and a new natural-gas FPL Okeechobee plant in 2019 make the Indiantown plant unnecessary. The site could be used in the future for natural gas or solar generation.

JUNO BEACH — NextEra Energy, parent of FPL, will sell its FPL FiberNet Holdings, a fi- ber services provider in Florida and Texas, for $1.5 billion to Houston-based Crown Castle.

VERO BEACH — The Indian River Chamber of Commerce launched a new economic development website, indianrivered.Com, to promote the county to corporate site selectors and business owners.

WELLINGTON — Iowa-based aircraft industry supplier Rockwell Collins will pay $6.4 billion to acquire aircraft cabin interior company B/E Aerospace. Only a small percentage of B/E’s 10,000 employees are based at its Wellington headquarters, which will close, and at a Miami facility.

SOUTHEAST FLORIDA — Broward County voters rejected a pitch to increase he sales tax 1 cent to 7 cents over 30 years to fund $15 billion in county transit and city infrastructure work. Palm Beach County voters, meanwhile, approved increasing the sales tax a penny for 10 years to fund $2.7 billion in school improvements and county and city infrastructure.


» West Palm Beach-based professional employer organization Oasis Outsourcing hired Kelley Castell as COO. Castell was senior vice president of client services and portfolio manager for First Data.

» Delray Beach-based skin-care company Aubio Life Sciences hired Scott Woolley as president. Woolley was Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year in 1999 for Florida. He founded the Woolley’s gourmet grocery chain and later Five Star Productions.


Car Wash Call

Stefan Joyal’s idea is to bring Uber to the mobile detailing/car wash business. He calls it Washé. Joyal, 22, raised the money in 2015 to launch an app in April that lets people summon or schedule car washers and detailers who join the Washé network. It’s available in Orlando, Tampa, Naples and Los Angeles. Joyal, a Boca Raton resident, hopes to expand it in Florida, southern California and Arizona this year.