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Smart Growth

Direct Development Towards Existing Communities: Mizner Park, Boca Raton, Florida

The mixed-use Mizner Park town center demonstrates how suburban communities can create lively downtowns by redeveloping abandoned shopping centers. Redeveloping the underused Boca Raton Mall into a town center removed a blighted property and helped revitalize the surrounding community.

Completed in several phases in the 1990s, the project attracts residents and visitors while supporting about 40 business tenants. A park in the middle of a large, tree-lined central boulevard makes up roughly half of the project and is a popular gathering place. 

Crocker and Company worked with the city’s Community Development Agency to replace the failed shopping mall with a 28.7-acre mixed-use project that includes 272 homes, 262,000 square feet of office space, a public promenade and park, shops and restaurants, a movie theater, and a museum. City financing, including $50 million in infrastructure improvements and $68 million in bond financing, facilitated the project.

The project stimulated development in the rest of downtown Boca Raton. Before the redevelopment of Mizner Park, there were 73 housing units downtown, and office rents were the lowest in Palm Beach County. By 2002, there were 689 housing units downtown with another 900 under construction, and office rents were the highest in all of south Florida.

The area saw a 14-fold increase in assessed property values from 1990 to 2002, improving the city's tax base. The success of Mizner Park has sparked other cities in Florida to convert their underperforming shopping malls into new town centers.

In 2010, Mizner Park’s Plaza Real was designated as one of the Great Public Spaces in the United States by the American Planning Association.

This case study was first published in 2006 and updated in March 2012.

Find other case studies in Smart Growth lllustrated that discuss the 10 smart growth principles.

Mizner Park Boulevard Median
A family enjoys the Plaza Real in the wide boulevard median.
Mizner Park Neighborhoods
Mizner Park’s neighbors look on to these town homes, oriented wide and shallow to hide a parking garage.
Mizner Park Store Fronts
Mizner Park's main boulevard has shops on the first floor and apartments above. Storefronts have covered arcades to protect shoppers from the sun.
Mizner Park Pedestrian Plaza
A palm tree-lined pedestrian plaza leads to the entrance of the largest apartment buildings in the center of Mizner Park.

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