A luxury hotel has reserved a spot in Boca Raton's downtown.
City Council members, acting as the Community Redevelopment Agency, unanimously approved plans for a new Mandarin Oriental Hotel and branded residences at Via Mizner. The project is expected to be completed in 2017.
"I think that we have a beautiful project," Councilman Robert Weinroth said before the vote Monday. "I think it's meeting exactly what everyone envisioned. I think this is the perfect project to be at the beginning of our downtown. It's going to be a showpiece."
A 366-unit apartment building is already under construction at the site located on the high-profile corner of Camino Real and Federal Highway. Roughly one million square feet of building reaching 140 feet is planned for the remaining nearly 7 acres. About 40 percent of the area has been designated for open space.
The hotel will feature 164 rooms. An adjoining tower connected to the hotel by a sky bridge would provide 100 condominiums. Both towers will include retail space.
Plans also call for lounges, a Mandarin Oriental cake shop, a 4,500-square-foot ballroom, conference rooms and a signature rooftop restaurant with an outdoor terrace and bar.
Much of the agency's discussion about the proposal focused on parking. As is, the plan offers about 1,100 parking spaces for the three buildings and prohibits valet parking. The developer must again go before the agency for approval if valet parking is later proposed.
Two residents came forward to express concerns about added traffic as a result of the new buildings.
"I think in the future and before we approve anymore projects we really need to look at: 'Can the city handle these?' and I think we're going to find out that we can't," resident Richard Wiggins said. "I am for development, but overdevelopment is worse than no development."
Like the apartment building, the new hotel and condominiums will be built under the same interim design guidelines used for The Mark at Cityscape. City officials and residents have said The Mark is not the striking building they had envisioned and raised concerns about the two projects currently being built downtown under the temporary rules.
Staff and a city consultant have since reviewed the plans for the apartment building in progress at Via Mizner and The Hyatt Place Hotel Boca Raton and found both projects are moving forward as the city intended. City Manager Leif Ahnell said the city has also spoken with an architecture firm about overseeing the development of new buildings in the city's downtown.
In other city business, the agency directed staff to draft a memo clarifying the city's standards for open space. A public hearing on the matter is expected to be scheduled.