Boca Facing Second Bert Harris Act Suit After Denial Of ‘The Concierge’ Project

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By: Marisa Herman Associate Editor

Boca Raton resident and landowner Robert Buehl is planning to sue the city of Boca after the Community Redevelopment Agency board rejected proposed plans for The Concierge, a downtown senior living facility.

Buehl isn’t the only one suing the city when it comes to the project. Developers Group P6 have filed a separate legal argument in Palm Beach County Circuit Court appealing the decision.

Buehl’s company Meritage Plaza owns the land, which was to be developed by Group P6.

The legal action comes after the Boca CRA, voted 3-1 to deny The Concierge project. Councilman Jeremy Rodgers cast the sole dissenting vote, supporting the plans.

The project proposed adding a $75 million, 10-story building at 22 S.E. 6th St., east of Dixie Highway for seniors. It calls for 110 units with 129 beds ranging in size from 550 square feet to about 1,300-square-feet. The building would have its own restaurants, salon, fitness area, theater, cafe, lounge and rooftop pool.

Boca officials expressed concerns over parking and the amount of emergency phone calls the facility would generate.

But for Buehl, the bigger issue was some of the comments officials made about the senior population who would live in the project. He said comments by some officials violated the Fair Housing Act and were ageist.

Councilwoman Andrea O’Rourke said the project didn’t meet the vision for downtown Boca because the residents wouldn’t contribute to the area’s vibrancy.

“The statements made by elected officials regarding our city’s elderly residents were absolutely discriminatory and shameful,” Buehl said. “They acted arbitrarily and capriciously in denying the plans for this project under the guidelines for the Community Redevelopment Agency. The council members should be embarrassed of their remarks against these important and vital members of our community.”

The city will have 150 days to respond to the Bert Harris suit.

The other action filed by the developers is working its way through the court system.