EXPLANATION OF REQUEST:
The Boynton Beach Mall encompasses approximately 108 acres and currently has six owners. The four parcels that constitute the largest part of the area are owned by Washington Prime Group (Boynton Beach Mall LLC). Other property owners include Macy’s Florida Stores, Regional Enterprises, Dillard’s, Istar Florida 2015 Cinemas and Christ Fellowship Church.
The Mall’s main, single-story structure houses the anchor retail tenants of Macy’s, Dillards, JCPenney and Sears as well as the Christ Fellowship Church. The other two buildings are the Cinemark Boynton Beach movie theater and Sears Auto Center.
The proposed future land use amendment, changing the Mall’s future land use classification from Development of Regional Impact (DRI) to Mixed Use Low (MXL), has been initiated by City staff in preparation for the site’s future redevelopment. (Note that the pine preserve, a part of the original DRI, will retain its Recreational classification.) While the redevelopment will likely proceed in phases and involve site planning for each, the rezoning will be processed concurrently with a master plan for the entire site. There is at present no master plan application. The subject FLUM amendment is accompanied by the concurrently processed amendment to the Comprehensive Plan’s Future Land Use Element (CPTA 19-001), which eliminates the Boynton Beach Mall DRI from the list of DRI-classified sites.
Since the size of the property under consideration exceeds ten acres, both the proposed FLUM amendment and the concurrent text amendments to the Future Land Use Element are subject to the Expedited State Review Process per provisions of Chapter 163.3184(3) and (5), Florida Statutes. If the Commission approves the proposed amendments, they will be transmitted for review to the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO), the state land planning agency. The final adoption by the City Commission is tentatively planned for April 2019.
There are several factors contributing to the need for the proposed amendment:
Development order for Boynton Beach Mall DRI expired.
The Future Land Use Element’s definition of the DRI future land use for the Mall includes minimum and maximum intensity of retail/commercial development measured in square feet of gross leasable space as approved by the DRI development order. Since the subject development order expired, this definition no longer has actionable meaning and will be eliminated. Concurrently, the Mall would be assigned a new FLU of Mixed Use Low.
Enclosed mall as model for a shopping center is becoming obsolete. Closures of traditional enclosed malls in the U.S. have been reported for over a decade. Some of these malls are able to reinvent themselves to become “lifestyle shopping” mixed use projects or outlet centers, some are redeveloped as health or conference facilities, and some have accommodated nontraditional tenants such as churches and schools.
The proposed Mixed Use Low FLU reclassification (and subsequent rezoning) will provide flexibility in both uses and design to allow the Mall to “reinvent” itself. The variety of options MXL offers is crucial to the successful redevelopment of the property and the continued success of the entire Congress Avenue commercial hub.
The Mall’s current zoning is not conducive for redevelopment
The Mall’s current zoning is C-3, Community Commercial, a conventional zoning district under the Local Retail Commercial (LRC) future land use. Neither provides appropriate framework for creativity and flexibility in design that the property needs to be successfully redeveloped.
Mall redevelopment is included in City’s strategic plans
The City’s Strategic Plan 2018-2022 lists the Mall’s redevelopment as item #18 in the portfolio of strategic projects starting FY2018-2019. The document notes that the redevelopment of the Mall site will be part of a future planning effort embracing an area tentatively referred to as the Congress Avenue Corridor District.
Lastly, the need for improvements/redevelopment of the Mall was also recognized by the City’s 2016-2021 Economic Development Strategic Plan (Goal 4, Objective 4.2).
The Planning and Development Board recommended approval of the subject requests on December 17, 2018.