Arts Group Closer to Mizner Park Lease & Other News From Boca, Delray

Arts Group Closer to Mizner Park Lease & Other News From Boca, Delray

Everything went as expected on Monday when the Boca Raton City Council discussed the future of Mizner Park’s north end.

Council members asked staff to negotiate a lease with the Boca Raton Arts District Exploratory Corporation (BRADEC) for the 1.8-acre parcel next to the Mizner Park Amphitheater. Two other groups made presentations, but one is from West Palm Beach and the other is from New York. BRADEC is a community group that for two years has pitched its plan for a community arts center.

Under that plan, BRADEC would upgrade and operate the amphitheater and build a complementary venue on that vacant, city-owned land. BRADEC President Andrea Virgin reiterated Monday that her group would not seek direct operating expenses from the city. BRADEC’s only ask, Virgin said, is the land.

Virgin told me Wednesday that only “a few finite points” remain to discuss about the lease. BRADEC and city staff have worked for many months. To satisfy state law, the city had to advertise the property to any bidder—not that there was any doubt about the choice.

The lease must go to the planning and zoning board and then for two readings before the council. Virgin estimated that BRADEC and the city could resolve the remaining points in June and July. Under the shorter summer meeting schedule, that would get the document to the planning and zoning board in August and to the council in September, assuming no major problems.

Though Boca Raton is an affluent city, this is a very ambitious project. BRADEC wants to raise as much as $130 million in two years for construction and to create an endowment that would get the center through its first years of operation.

Twenty-one donors have financed the campaign that has brought BRADEC to this point. Monday’s result “adds weight” to the larger fundraising campaign. But only approval of the lease, Virgin said, will allow BRADEC to start announcing what she said will be eight-figure gifts.

“I am fully confident,” Virgin said, “not just in Boca Raton but in this region. This is a community project, and I believe that the community will get us there.”