Smart Growth Illustrated
Mizner Park, Boca Raton, Florida
The mixed-use Mizner Park town center demonstrates how suburban communities can create vital downtowns by redeveloping abandoned shopping centers. In Boca Raton, Florida, redeveloping the underused Boca Raton Mall into a community center removed a blighted property and helped revitalize the surrounding community.
Crocker and Company worked with Boca Raton's Community Development Agency to replace the failed shopping mall with a 28.7-acre mixed-use project that includes 272 homes, a public promenade and park, retail shops and restaurants, 262,000 square feet of office space, a movie theater, and a museum. City financing, including $50 million in infrastructure improvements and $68 million in bond financing, helped make the project feasible. Completed in several phases throughout the 1990s, the project has been an outstanding success, attracting residents and visitors and contributing to the economic viability of its 40 business tenants.
The city is also getting a great return on its investment, as the project stimulated development in the rest of downtown Boca Raton. Prior to the development of Mizner Park, there were 73 housing units downtown, and office rents were the lowest in Palm Beach County. By 2002, there were 689 housing units downtown with another 900 under construction, and office rents were the highest in all of south Florida. All this translated into a 14-fold increase in assessed property values in the area from 1990 to 2002, improving the city's tax base.
A large, tree-lined central boulevard encourages walking and cruising, creating an unhurried environment for shopping and socializing. It has become the city's most popular community meeting place and the new center of Boca Raton. While roughly half of the project is a park located in the middle of a boulevard, high-density development in the remaining areas creates a vital community center.
The success of Mizner Park has sparked other cities in Florida to convert their under-performing shopping malls into new town centers.