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First step to develop Ocean Strand waterfront site

After 26 years, plans are finally moving for the undeveloped waterfront stretch called Ocean Strand.

The 14-acre site is north of Gumbo Limbo Nature Center, 11 acres on the Intracoastal side, three on the beachfront.

Staff was directed to launch the initial design phase and get city and public input.

“I would like to see Ocean Strand developed,” Commissioner Steven Engel said at Tuesday’s Greater Boca Raton Beach & Park District meeting. The district released his statement Wednesday.

“I’d like to work with the city of Boca Raton in developing it and integrate it into the city’s waterfront plan,” Engel added.

The stretch that straddles A1A has a long and storied history. The district bought the property in 1994 for $11.9 million.

Condo neighbors organized. They objected to developing the land as anything other than a passive park. There were two offers from one developer to buy it. Rumors ran rampant the district would sell. Especially after the district had the site appraised for $67 million. But a legal search of their charter revealed the district can acquire or buy land, but not sell it. Commissioners themselves objected to a sale.

On Tuesday, district executive director Briann Harms got the go-ahead to “gather input from the city of Boca Raton and the community at-large,” according to the district.

“It’s a beautiful stretch of property that’s been dormant for too long,” Commissioner Erin Wright said in the statement. “Today we began the process of opening that area to the community.”

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