Downtown Boca Raton is home to signature cultural events, historic and modern architecture, open-air concerts, an art museum, more than 75 restaurants featuring cuisine from around the globe, and boutiques catering to savvy fashionistas.

“There is always a reason to come early and stay late,” says Boca Raton Downtown Manager Ruby Childers. “Once people come, they don’t want to leave.”

And given the massive plans in the works for the coming years, people won’t have to. Hoping to be a testament to the phrase, “Build it and they will come,” the city has eight approved projects that are close to or already under construction.

The most coveted of these projects, due to open in late 2018, is The Residences at Mandarin Oriental, which will be located within Via Mizner. The five-star, urban resort in downtown Boca Raton will be a 12-story tall hotel and offer an intimate collection of 85 one- to four-bedroom luxury condominiums priced from $1.8 million. It will also feature The Penthouse Collection, offering five exceptional luxury units. Buyers will enjoy exclusive and privileged access to the distinctive charm of Mandarin Oriental, along with its world-class amenities, including a golf course, on-site spa, Michelin-star restaurant and more.

“This is by far the most exciting and luxurious development in South Florida, as the only hotel-branded residences in Palm Beach County and one of a select few Residences at Mandarin Oriental in the world,” says Harlan Goldberg, Douglas Elliman director of sales for the project.

Developing the property is Penn-Florida Companies, which is behind the entire Via Mizner destination. Comprised of three grand towers, the Via Mizner project has Boca buzzing with anticipation. The first tower, 101 Via Mizner, offers 366 luxury rental apartments. Not only is it complete and moving in residents, but it has already become an iconic architectural building downtown.

The project—which will also include restaurants, boutiques, a spa, resort-style pool and more—is being developed under the direction of Penn-Florida Companies, a full-service owner and developer of high-profile real estate. “Via Mizner will be one of the premier mixed-use projects in the country, and the arrival of Mandarin Oriental will raise the bar for hospitality and contemporary living in South Florida,” says Mark A. Gensheimer, president and owner of Penn-Florida Companies.

In addition to these high-profile builds, there are six approved projects that haven’t yet broken ground. They include:

• Via Mizner phases 2 and 3

• Tower 155 condo with 170 units

• University Village with 829 units

• Fairway Commons Park Place with 398 units

• Hyatt Place with 200 units

That’s not even taking into account 25 other proposed projects—like Midtown at Boca Town Center, with 649 units, and Lofts at Boca Colonnade, with 322 units—still awaiting a final OK.

Childers is pleased with what she sees. “The downtown is becoming a more livable district with the new residential buildings and planned hotels,” she says. “The majority of area businesses and residents are happy and eager to see our downtown grow into a more walkable and vibrant area for all to enjoy.”

While a majority of the focus has been on the concrete creations and enhancements of downtown, in the City of Boca Raton’s Strategic plan for 2016 to 2017, two of the top priorities for this fiscal year included a comprehensive waterfront plan and upgrades to Lake Wyman Park for greater usage of its parks and waterways, plus a conceptual master plan for the 20th Street area, which will focus on a college-centric student and family friendly area.

The city has recently chosen a vendor to begin the process of assessing the waterfront properties and gathering input from residents about the best recreational uses. The city’s coastal program manager recently gave a presentation to the city council about possible options that involve county and state funding, and a collaboration to provide additional boat launches, canoe trails and possible dockage.

The city has also contracted with the Treasure Coast Regional Planning Council to gather input from stakeholders and begin the development of a plan for the 20th Street corridor outside of FAU, which will appeal to the college student and millennial markets.

There are several new and proposed mobility developments in and around the Park at Broken Sound, which will also cater to the millennial crowd, providing live, work and play options within walking and biking distance of homes and offices.

According to Jessica Del Vecchio, the city’s economic development manager, Boca Raton is home to 30 corporate headquarters and is a popular choice for companies looking to relocate or expand. “Our quality of life, educated workforce, highly advanced medical care, world-class shopping, dining and cultural options make Boca Raton an easy choice for corporate relocation. Boca Raton’s 46 parks and beautiful beaches highlight why we’re known as a ‘City Within A Park.’”

Boca Raton’s vibrancy, sophistication, revitalization and cultural history make it one of the nation’s most sought-after destinations, causing it to boom today, tomorrow and well into the future.

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