If one project can symbolize Boca Raton’s attempt to attract more corporate tenants, it’s Mutual of America’s plan for a large, new building in the Park at Broken Sound.
The New York-based life insurance company already has a regional office in the park. Mutual wants to tear down its existing office, nearly triple the size of its space and bring another 200 employees from Manhattan. That would bring the total in Boca Raton to 400, or rouighly one-third of the company’s workforce.
The 700-acre park, formerly the Arvida Park of Commerce, was groundbreaking when it opened in 1978. Under the wonderful acronym of LIRP—Light Industrial Research Park—it created the employment cluster at the core of Boca Raton’s enviable commercial tax base.
In recent years, however, property owners complained that the park’s development rules had become outdated. They sought changes to allow larger and more varied projects. The city has obliged, as the city did for the owner of the nearby Boca Raton Innovation Campus, where IBM invented the personal computer.
Mayor Scott Singer especially has urged quick action on these changes, to make Boca Raton more attractive to corporate recruiters. West Palm Beach has drawn most of the moves by companies from New York during and since the pandemic.
City Councilman Mark Wigder called the Mutual project “a catalyst” for the park and city. In addition to space for those new employees, Mutual would lease some offices to outside tenants. In its narrative to the city, Mutual says the project would “facilitate new jobs added to the local economy.”
More employees and tenants, of course, would mean more traffic at one of the city’s busiest rush-hour chokepoints—Yamato Road just west of Interstate 95. Mutual is seeking a “variation” from city engineering standards that recommend 45 minutes to clear traffic at each end of the workday.
Instead, Mutual wants times of between 70 and 75 minutes. The six-story garage that will replace surface spaces, Mutual says, will allow “a more efficient allocation of land.” In addition, Mutual says, hybrid work schedules would mean that the garage is rarely full. No nearby buildings, the company claims, would have any problems.
The project is still going through staff review. No hearings have been set.
Source: Boca Magazine