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Breaking news: Crocker bows out of Midtown

Once the lead developer, Crocker Partners is bowing out of Midtown.

The firm just appealed a $137 million lawsuit against the city for damages. And Crocker’s even putting its sprawling Shops at Boca Center retail complex on the market.

“We’ll maintain the shops in their current condition and lease up tenants. At this stage, we’ll fix up the common area and then put it up for sale next year,” said Angelo Bianco, managing partner. The center was briefly for sale previously, he added.

Instead, Crocker will continue to focus on renovating the former IBM property, Bianco said. Renamed Boca Raton Innovation Campus, called BRiC, the campus is the new hot venue in town. The Boca Chamber and Boca Raton Bowl just had major fundraisers there.

The firm is also pursuing permits for Restaurant Row, announced last December. Plans call for four, 5,000-square foot restaurants and patios near Town Center. The project is on the Planning and Zoning Board agenda next month, Bianco said.

Meanwhile, the legal appeal was filed on Oct. 15. “City council made it clear despite the comprehensive plan’s vision for Midtown, revitalizing the area is not of interest..,” attorney Henry Handler said in a statement.

Midtown was originally designated as a walkable work, play area ripe for revitalization on Military Trail between Camino Real and north of 19th Street. Plans called for redoing Military Trail and phasing in hundreds of apartments. But residents who live there objected to plans at city workshops. And last December, Boca backed off any residential development. Short-term plans for a second Tri Rail station north of the Boca Center were formally scratched last month.

Meanwhile, Crocker announced it’s dropping two other lawsuits against the city.  The remedies they asked for are now moot, Bianco said.

“After trying to work with City Council for four years, revitalizing Midtown is off the table, a tremendous missed opportunity for the city and the community,” Bianco said in a statement. “Taking a big picture approach to the area’s future has passed.”

By Marci Shatzman

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