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"University Boulevard"

It wasn't just talk.

As I mentioned before, there's been discussion by the City Council of re-purposing 20th Street into a more university-centric area. This recent Sun Sentinel article explains:


"20th Street could be renamed University Boulevard

Plans for 20th Street to eventually become a hub for university housing, public transit and retail at the back door of Florida Atlantic University moved through a Planning & Zoning Board workshop on April 19 with apparent support.

Grace Johnson, a P&Z member, is on the 20th Street Sub-Committee looking at the future of the area for student, staff and faculty housing and one of three eventual train stations planned for the city.

Mike Righetti, the city's land development coordinator, made a presentation to allow the Treasure Coast Regional Planning Council to establish alternative land development requirements for the community. The so-called overlay is a mapped area superimposed over a conventional zoning district that establishes different standards, for building setbacks for instance. That zoning would create a special district and like a similar, university-based neighborhood in Kissimmee.

"We had a meeting with FAU and they were supportive of other uses but not student housing for five years," Johnson said.

The university announced plans for new freshman housing on March 15, according to the university.

FAU "would like to see faculty housing they don't have on campus," Johnson added."



Adding a train station there is an amazing development that I didn't even think about. Apparently the Transit Authority wants to build along these FEC tracks and there would be one station at Mizner Park and then one here on University Boulevard too. As you can see, the potential there could be a "college area" and a "downtown area" with a train running between them, so if you build plenty of student housing along University Blvd and you build up downtown Boca, students can take the train down, barhop, then take the train back. Also, if you don't have a car and you're at FAU, you could bike to this train station and do the same thing.

So you can see there's a TON of potential here to improve the student experience at FAU over the next decade.

Anyway, I watched the Council's video and here are some extras:

- One of the first things they'd do is rename it to University Blvd to "spur interest in development there."
- The university district would be from FAU to Dixie Highway along 20th, but if it were successful, down the line they would consider extending it all the way to Federal Highway.
- FAU is interested in building up their on-campus housing and filling it, which is a good thing of course, so that's why they don't want student housing approved just yet.
- "It's not that FAU says the City can't build student housing for five years, it's that FAU just will not support housing-related development…. Mr. Donaudy was very clear that they would be happy to see faculty housing."
"Well, they had the land for that at one point, didn't they?" (referring to University Commons)
"Well, we won't go there. Haha."

There were some renderings but it was pretty general and would have been too blurry to replicate here. Basically it just showed the typical beautification and redevelopment process you'd expect of something like this, with wide paved sidewalks along shade trees and mixed use retail showing stores with different colored canopies.

I'm personally amazed that this is going forward… or that it took so long. 20th Street has always been a dead zone, an eyesore, and it's like a lightbulb went off in the City's head and they're like, "Oh yeah, this is going to be fantastic. We should do this!" The Mayor has also inferred that this could turn into a "downtown" type of area since that doesn't seem to be happening much over by Mizner.

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Re: "University Boulevard"

While this sounds pretty awesome, how likely is it that this actually happens?

Also, what would be going in there? Night clubs? Bars? Restaurants?

And what kind of time frame are we looking at, assuming it is feasible?



                                         ROLL OWLS
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Re: "University Boulevard"

NJOWL said

While this sounds pretty awesome, how likely is it that this actually happens?

It's very likely that the City will approve the name change and the overlay district. In fact, that will probably happen in the next few months.

On the other hand, I don't know how likely the train station is, or when. From my understanding, the people in charge have to choose to either build one station or all three… it's mostly a funding issue I think.

NJOWL said

Also, what would be going in there? Night clubs? Bars? Restaurants?

Retail, restaurants, student housing… my guess would be mixed use with housing on top and businesses on the bottom floor. Bars are inevitable, although the City wouldn't come out and say, "This is where we'll put all the bars." Nightclubs are possible but considering how few are in the city now and how problematic Club Boca - or whatever the hell it's called this year - has been, that's going to take some time. So while you might not see a traditional nightclub, I'm sure there were be some bars with dance floor space.

NJOWL said

And what kind of time frame are we looking at, assuming it is feasible?

No timetable given. Over the next 5-10 years, I'd imagine.

First they'd approve the overlay and name change. The name change is to attract businesses, as are the revised rules about building setbacks and whatnot.

There's still a lot of infrastructure that needs to be laid there, like the paved sidewalks and trees and off-street parking, not to mention probably moving the power lines that run through there, and you're talking millions of dollars to make that happen. For comparison, the project that converted the Spanish River entrance/exit to a four lane road to the stadium cost about $10M. So I'd imagine the 20th Street transformation would cost a comparable amount if not more. I very much doubt the City wants to really fund that, as the taxpaying Boca Ratonites aren't going to want to spend millions of dollars of their tax money to benefit the college students. If they did, I would be surprised. So the City will probably look to FAU to shoulder a large part of that burden, which I think is really where we come in.

Not to mention that there's going to be a bit of wheeling and dealing to push out the Fabric stores and the Sunbelt rentals and the Antique Furniture Showcase Warehouse etc who already have buildings there so you can build over it.

You'll want to advertise and get good realtors who understand what you're trying to accomplish, then figure out a way to attract developers who aren't looking to make millions of dollars in upscale boutiques and golf shops and condominiums with teak floors. It can't be Mizner Park 2 or it won't attract the right crowd, so you're looking for investors who want to build fast food restaurants and bike repair shops and yoga studios, stuff like that.

One of the things you'll notice in other areas are students graduating and wanting to open up a ______ shop near campus, which leads to places like Tijuana Flats and head shops and the Go Greek Store. I'm sure we have these kinds of people at FAU… whether we can attract them to stay and build on University Boulevard is really the question.

Maybe Nunzio could build his bar over there  ;D

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Re: "University Boulevard"

Drove down 20th Street yesterday and noticed that one of the half-finished industrial buildings is becoming a Booksmart, as in, the same store that sells college books across from campus on Glades Road.

Not sure if they're ahead of the curve and caught wind of what's going down there or just thought it was a good second (?) location but yeah, this is a step in the right direction there, joining the forthcoming University Park and the existing Go Greek Store as catering to the college crowd…


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Owl2Doc said

Drove down 20th Street yesterday and noticed that one of the half-finished industrial buildings is becoming a Booksmart, as in, the same store that sells college books across from campus on Glades Road.

Not sure if they're ahead of the curve and caught wind of what's going down there or just thought it was a good second (?) location but yeah, this is a step in the right direction there, joining the forthcoming University Park and the existing Go Greek Store as catering to the college crowd…

At the beginning of the Spring semester, Booksmart had signs and flyers all over the place, and some that they sneaked onto campus, noting the change of location.  They were aggressively advertising their move on 20th St (should we just start calling it University?).  Opening was supposed to be in May, but sounds like they're still on Glades as the month is nearing it's end.
That being said, I love how 20th St was already very pro-FAU.  From Addison Park and the other apartment complexes being filled with students, to the Greek store and the gas station on the corner of 2nd Ave putting up large FAU banners along its fences and FAU logos in and outside of their convenience store.  It's very exciting to think what that stretch of road will be like with the renaming and tax breaks for pro-FAU businesses!

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Thanks for the info! Having the bookstore there will definitely drive more student traffic to that area. I especially liked this quote from the Sun Sentinel:

"The (University Park) project could transform the backdoor entrance to FAU from a hodgepodge of uses to a neighborhood of shops and restaurants that cater to students, Mayor Susan Whelchel said. Along with a majority of City Council members, Whelchel chose creation of that new district on Northwest 20th Street as one of the most pressing council priorities for the coming year."

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Re: "University Boulevard"

Owl2Doc said

Thanks for the info! Having the bookstore there will definitely drive more student traffic to that area. I especially liked this quote from the Sun Sentinel:

"The (University Park) project could transform the backdoor entrance to FAU from a hodgepodge of uses to a neighborhood of shops and restaurants that cater to students, Mayor Susan Whelchel said. Along with a majority of City Council members, Whelchel chose creation of that new district on Northwest 20th Street as one of the most pressing council priorities for the coming year."


It's great to finally have the city really behind FAU for once.  With the banners on Glades, everything going on with University Ave, and the 95-Spanish River interchange finally getting underway, it's safe to say that East Boca is finally starting to become this college district or even town that we all wish and image it to be!
I'm starting to wish that I went to FAU 5 years from now!

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Re: "University Boulevard"

HootinHollerin said

Owl2Doc said

Thanks for the info! Having the bookstore there will definitely drive more student traffic to that area. I especially liked this quote from the Sun Sentinel:

"The (University Park) project could transform the backdoor entrance to FAU from a hodgepodge of uses to a neighborhood of shops and restaurants that cater to students, Mayor Susan Whelchel said. Along with a majority of City Council members, Whelchel chose creation of that new district on Northwest 20th Street as one of the most pressing council priorities for the coming year."


It's great to finally have the city really behind FAU for once.  With the banners on Glades, everything going on with University Ave, and the 95-Spanish River interchange finally getting underway, it's safe to say that East Boca is finally starting to become this college district or even town that we all wish and image it to be!
I'm starting to wish that I went to FAU 5 years from now!

Same here. I was just telling my brother (we both attend FAU currently) about what 20th st could turn into (University Ave). Then he said, "Yeah…. when? 20 years from now?"


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NJOWL said

Same here. I was just telling my brother (we both attend FAU currently) about what 20th st could turn into (University Ave). Then he said, "Yeah…. when? 20 years from now?"

To be fully realized, yeah, probably 10-20 years. A best case scenario would be ~5 years, by my estimation.

Places like Franklin Street don't happen overnight.

Still, you have to remember that it always starts small. You get 3-4 good bars or businesses over there and people will come down. That's really not a tall order at all. And once the people are there, others will follow. So you could possibly still enjoy its humble beginnings before you graduate.




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Re: "University Boulevard"

For the old schoolers such Rick, TeamBeer, and myself (among many others I'm sure), when we went to FAU there wasn't even a duffy's near the mall, there was no muvico or cinemark whatever you want to call it and certainly nothing to do in mizner except for the movies and expensive restaurants. If you wanted to go to a bar it was either Fridays or Wishing Well

So in due time. Like Owl2Doc said these things take time. Look at this area now. Mizner has Dubliner and a new movie theater and this weekend they are opening up a Yardhouse. There's a duffy's in Deerfield and on St. Andrews by the mall.

Slowly but surely Boca is starting to change for the better but it's going to take time

My two favorite teams are FAU, and who ever is beating FIU!
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