Major developments underway for Dixie Manor, Delray Golf Course and more


It is rare for a black person to speak at a Boca Raton city council meeting, and even rarer for several blacks to speak. But it’s been happening a lot lately.

This is because of the developments at Dixie Manor, the city’s public housing complex that is also part of Boca Raton’s history. Forty of the 95 units were homes for the families of black military personnel who were stationed here during World War II. The city bought the 9.3-acre property from a private owner in 1979 and donated it to the Boca Raton Housing Authority.

Even the most recent units are around 40 years old. The US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has encouraged local housing authorities to consider “repositioning” old public housing. The Boca Raton Housing Authority is one such agency.

Despite its name, the authority is not part of the city. Board members appoint the five board members, but the authority sets policy and hires the executive director. No money from the city goes to the authority, which also oversees a low-income apartment complex in Boca Raton and vouchers for subsidized housing. The money for the changes at Dixie Manor would come from the federal government.

It is generally agreed that Dixie Manor is in need of improvement. “Ninety-five percent of public housing in America is older than us,” said Gary Richardson, the authority’s chairman. The debate is about upgrading.

Photo by Randy Schultz

Should the apartments be renovated? Does Dixie Manor need to be demolished and rebuilt? Anyway, what happens to tenants during construction? What is happening at the Lois Martin Community Center which hosts many children’s programs?

Tenants and tenant advocates told council members that authority staff had not sufficiently briefed tenants on their plans. “The apartments are horrible,” admitted Angela McDonald, a tenant who sits on authority. “But (authority) must bring us to the table.” Executive director John Scannell, McDonald said, “speaks” with tenants.

I left several voicemail messages for Scannell. Richardson responded. He denied that the agency withheld information. “Any problem,” said Richardson, “can be solved. Not everyone will be happy, but 95% will be happy.”

Last week, the board hired a consulting firm to conduct a feasibility study of the options. This study will take no more than four months.

When the study returns, Richardson said, the authority will hold a meeting with tenants and other “interested parties.” To get work started as soon as possible, the authority should make a decision by August.

The money would come from Florida Housing Finance Corp., and a later decision would postpone the work until the next budget year. The authority has a lead developer agreement with Atlantic Pacific Companies, based in Boca Raton. Richardson said the company would “likely” do the construction.

Until recently, Richardson noted: “There was very little interest in authority. In August, the board appointed Brian Stenberg to a vacant position. He was the only candidate. During the next vacancy, in November, several people wanted the nomination.

The main source of anxiety for tenants is where they would go during construction. McDonald’s points out that some residents have children in nearby schools. How far could they live?

Some tenants have lived at Dixie Manor for 30 years. They will probably want to come back. McDonald’s has only been there four years. Like some of its neighbors, McDonald’s isn’t sure it wants to come back.

So how will authority ensure fairness for everyone? Richardson said, “HUD will take 100% care of everyone’s rent. Stenberg said the authority “will bend over backwards to make sure the families living at Dixie Manor are part of the process and suffer as little disruption as possible when the time comes to put shovels in the ground.”

The more difficult problem is that Boca Raton offers very few subsidized housing options. This is not an issue the board has to deal with often. And with Dixie Manor, board members are spectators, not participants.

But the board members have chosen the people who will decide the future of Dixie Manor. So the board will likely continue to hear about plans for that future.

What will happen to the Sherwood golf course in Delray?

Country club

At today’s meeting, the City of Delray Beach Commission will decide whether to allow development on what used to be a golf course.

It’s a growing trend in South Florida. Decades ago, developers built retirement communities based on a model of homeowners playing golf. It worked until the houses were turned over and the young homeowners didn’t want to golf all the time. They didn’t buy any subscriptions. Folded courses.

This time it’s the Sherwood Golf Course, on 37 acres south of Atlantic Avenue and east of Military Trail. It dates from 1960. The owners closed the course in 2018, citing what the staff memo calls “a decrease in the public interest”. A clubhouse and cart ban is still deteriorating.

Pulte Homes wants to build 70 houses among the existing 125. For that, the commission would have to approve a change of land use, a rezoning and a change to the master plan of the community. The minimum separation between these zero lot row homes would drop from 15 feet to 10 feet. In addition to the houses, Pulte would build a swimming pool and a clubhouse.

Some owners of these communities strongly objected to the potential loss of open space. Residents of Boca Del Mar have sued unsuccessfully to block development of the former Mizner Trail golf course.

The residents of Sherwood, however, reversed the script. They approached the city to remove the deed restriction that only allows one golf course on the property. When the Planning and Zoning Board recommended approval, one stakeholder said nearly 90 percent of potential neighbors support the project because the property has become so dilapidated.

In addition, Pulte asks for less than the maximum. As a result, the memo says, the traffic would be about half of what it could be. County engineers say the project would meet traffic performance standards.

To ensure compatibility with neighboring single-family communities, planners want Pulte to improve access. Commissioners could attach that as a condition of approval.

An FAU professor also serves as a major donor

Photo: Alex Dolce, Florida Atlantic University

A professor at Florida Atlantic University became the second donor among the staff.

Eric Shaw is Professor Emeritus at the College of Business. The university will use its $ 2 million donation for eight awards and endowments programs that, according to a press release, “will reward and recognize deserving FAU student-athletes, as well as other student-athletes who demonstrate academic excellence in various fields of research, business, and other fields … “

Shaw received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from FAU and taught there until he moved to Rutgers University and then the University of Miami. He returned to FAU in 1982 and served as associate dean and chairman of the business school’s marketing department. He has served on the faculty senate, the council of elders, the foundation council and the board of directors.

New primary school update

O5C rendering via Courtesy of Palm Beach County School District

The Palm Beach County School Board Boundaries Advisory Committee has left in place the staff plan for who will attend the new Boca Raton elementary school.

As I wrote last week, the plan covers four of the city’s five elementary schools. The main goal is to relieve overcrowding at Calusa Elementary School. The new school, on Military Trail south of Spanish River Boulevard, can accommodate 1,000 students. Filling the campus means moving students from other schools.

Opposition during the four-hour committee meeting came from relatives near St. Andrews Boulevard. The plan largely divides this area east and west of St. Andrews. Mayor Scott Singer, who sits on the committee, opposed the idea of ​​the area being one community and defended the staff proposal.

Two board members have offered to send more students from the St. Andrews area to Calusa, although the new school, now called O5C, is closer. This plan did not gain the support of the majority. The committee will meet again before the plan is forwarded to the board, which has the final say.

Major residential development planned

More farmland near Boca Raton and Delray Beach will become developments.

According to published reports, the Johns family sold their 260-acre plot south of Olympic Heights High School to GL Homes. The company plans to build nearly 700 homes. The Johns now lease the land for farming.

Previously, the family had sold a vacant property on Glades Road, just east of State Road 7. This land became Uptown Boca.


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