Some movement on 20th Street
FAU begins project on student-centric district
Don't get too excited, though. This just notes that Boca is finally going to meet officially with stakeholders (20th Street businesses, property owners, etc) because "There’s not a very consolidated vision at this point.” I'm hoping to talk to this lady as well, present my ideas. Would like to hear what transpires when fauowl gets interviewed, as he no doubt will be.
The City wants to set limits for how big of an area this could be. one block north and south of 20th, as suggested, seems fair to me.
So… it's a start. Still slow going. Hopefully this ramps up soon. I'd like to see the overlay district and the basic infrastructure - widening sidewalks, burying the power lines, renaming the street, etc - happen over the next year if possible. I know this will displace a lot of businesses in that area, although they will likely get a very fair price for their property, and some may fight that.
But other redevelopment projects like this have gone over very well and I'm glad to hear people outside of us talk about this area as potential new hub for nightlife. I hope they can deliver on that.
A friend of mine and I did a bicycle tour of the University of Illinois campus last weekend. I've been here 16 years and that is the first time I have done that.
The UI campus seamlessly flows into the business areas adjacent to the campus. There are a ton of restaurants off campus and shops, bars and off campus housing all just a walk away. The university influence extends quite a few blocks away from the campus boundaries on all sides. It is a nice campus. Lots of bicycles on campus. Students do a lot of commuting that way. All this makes the campus feel much bigger.
Hopefully this will develop like that. It is a good thing for the Boca Raton campus.
On a side note. We stopped for lunch right next to the campus. the guy taking our order looked very much like a student. We asked him if UI had a home game today (I do not keep up with UI sports). He had no idea. I looked it up on my phone and it was a bye week. So, it happens everywhere. Although UI football does not get a good following from the general public either.
I've lived in Gainesville and seen what they have across from UF along West University Avenue - a string of restaurants, bars, shops (copy services, apartment finders, UF apparel) and apartments behind those. It's very convenient because it's literally right behind their main undergraduate library, which itself faces a quad with several academic buildings, so it's easy to just walk off campus for lunch and come back.
I drove through University Blvd in Orlando. The main thing there are restaurants, restaurants, restaurants. About 18 of them, and 3 bars. Not as walkable from campus as UF but does provide what students need if you're willing to huck it or drive over. They have some apartments in that area as well so you can still utilize the area.
I believe FSU has a similar situation (street with restaurants) but I haven't been there. I do know they recently built a mixed-use project that looks pretty cool called CollegeTown. Drove past USF but didn't check out their area. Same thing with FIU, just went to the football games there, though I know Sweetwater came to them(?) and wanted to be a "college town" so they're trying to create some mixed-use there but in the meantime I think they're in the same boat as us.
Harvard has Harvard Square, walked through there. The advantages of both Harvard and MIT is that, like most urban places - and thus doesn't apply to us - you can step off campus, get on the train and go somewhere, then come back.
The University of Pennsylvania has a beautiful campus and they allow food trucks to park there, so you'll walk down a tree-lined street and see a food truck (usually Asian food) here or there. But then there's a corner of the campus where the restaurants and bars abut the edge and the transition feels pretty seamless. I really enjoyed spending time there.
I've also been to the University of Oregon's campus, another amazing place especially in the Fall when the leaves are changing colors. But they have a short street leading away from campus (you can literally walk the entire thing in about 5 minutes) that has restaurants, bars, apparel shops.
So you'll see that every place has roughly the same thing, we just need to duplicate it (and maybe even make it better?) here.