Published On: Sat, Oct 21st, 2017

Amidst Rumors, City Officials Confident Mizner Park Amphitheater Will Stay

By: Michael Demyan

If Related Group had it their way, Boca Raton would be saying goodbye to the Mizner Park Amphitheater, however a deal does not seem likely.

An outside consultant, Song and Associates, had been drawing up plans to figure out viable options for redesigning the city government campus. One of the possibilities that has been discussed is an indoor performing arts center, which Mayor Susan Haynie is a strong proponent of.

Related Group, meanwhile, would like to replace Boca Raton’s current outdoor venue with over 300 apartments, along with restaurants and a parking garage, through a public-private partnership. The site would include a 3.6-acre section of Mizner Park, while 1.8 acres of that currently sits where the amphitheater is standing. A nearby empty lot would be included in the deal as well.

It would be the first project in Boca Raton for the Miami-based company, which was established in 1979. They have built, rehabilitated and managed over 90,000 condos and apartments throughout South Florida.

Tearing down the amphitheater would not have come without compensation, however. In exchange for the land, the luxury condo developer would give the city the indoor performing arts center, which would be located near city hall. The new venue would seat over 1,500 people and include a parking garage.

While some may enjoy the air conditioning during the hot days and nights of summer, some residents would miss the tradition of being out under the sun and the stars. The discussions have sparked enough interest in residents that a Facebook page called “Save Our Amphitheater Please” has surpassed over 600 followers and many are voicing their opinions.

“The sardine can is full and let’s enjoy what we’ve got. The amphitheater was the best thing that ever happened to Mizner Park, in my opinion,” Boca Raton resident Laurie Shafer wrote.

City Councilwoman Andrea O’Rourke, however, stressed that the possible removal of the amphitheater is a “non-issue.”

“The officials discussed this at a public meeting and no one was in favor. End of conversation,” she said.

City Councilman Robert Weinroth believes that having the indoor performing arts center would benefit the city, but he also feels that it would be best if Boca keeps the amphitheater as well.

“We need an outdoor venue and we need an indoor venue, because an indoor venue is very expensive to operate if you’re going to try and use it for free events,” he said.

While having the indoor venue could potentially attract acts that would otherwise not perform outdoors, it may not be the best place for some of Mizner Park Amphitheater’s typical outdoor events, which it has been hosting since 2002, such as Friday lunches where people can sit on the lawn and enjoy some food provided by local food trucks.

The impact on those events is one of the reasons Councilman Scott Singer is also against the deal with Related Group.

“Trading this spot for a fancier, 1,500-seat venue would eliminate many of our free events, like our successful Summer Series and decrease the number and variety of cultural offerings at Mizner Park,” he said.

He went on to explain that Related Group’s proposal could also cause traffic and parking concerns, as well as the overall use of Mizner Park.

“In short, thanks to the offerer, but no thanks to this proposal,” he said.

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  1. No one ever said there would be no amphitheater, the amphitheater CREATES parking and traffic problems. Moving it and ADDING parking a requirement of any development would fix the situation not exacerbate it. Moving the amphitheater to City Hall could add seats and upgrade. The City would receive millions of dollars to defray the cost of performing arts center and get taxes for a property that currently provides none. The Art Museum could expand their operations as well.

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