By: Diane Emeott Korzen Contributing Writer
Three years after beginning the approval process with the City of Boca Raton, the controversial Camino Square redevelopment project has gotten the go-ahead from Boca City Council acting as the Community Redevelopment Agency board.
Camino Square will be constructed on 9.13 acres in the former Winn Dixie and Tuesday Morning shopping center at 171 West Camino Real approaching Fresh Market.
The project will add 350 rental units in two, eight-story buildings in phase one. There will be a dog park and pocket park open to the public. Phase two of the project will be a retail component.
The CRA board narrowly voted in favor of the project, 3 to 2 with CRA Chair Andrea
Levine O’Rourke and board member Monica Mayotte casting the dissenting votes.
The item passed after a four-hour discussion on April 8. A similarly lengthy discussion on Jan. 7 resulted in the vote being postponed.
More than a dozen residents spoke on Camino Square at each of the two meetings with many raising concerns about increased traffic to the neighborhood, and some wanting to keep the shopping center for commercial only without adding residential.
A nearby sober home operator said she will likely sell her business if the project is approved.
Regarding traffic, in January the developer introduced measures to deal with the traffic, including adding a separate left-hand and right-hand turn leaving SW 3 Avenue.
The developer FCI Residential is spending $1.7 million in impact fees and $400,000 in traffic improvements.
“We all want better traffic,” Mayor Scott Singer said. “I know this won’t satisfy everyone. If we say, ‘no’ now we will likely face a lawsuit. Or approve it today, and rely on millions of dollars in improvements.”
Singer said the certificates of occupancy will not be awarded until roadway improvements to SW 3 Avenue and Camino Real/Dixie Highway are made.
The retail portion of the project still has to go through various city boards for approval.
Peter Flint of Kimco Realty, owners of the now defunct retail shopping center for over 50 years, said he has spoken to eight or nine different grocery stores about going into the plaza, but did not have any names on stores that may open there.
Developers estimate construction will last about two years once city approvals are obtained.