Sale of Mizner Park in Boca Raton falters

Mizner Park

Mizner Park

For a time this year, downtown Boca Raton almost saw the biggest retail shakeup in recent history: The near sale of the Mizner Park shopping, living and office center.

The landmark property, built 27 years ago, was offered for sale by its current owner, General Growth Properties Inc., according to several real estate brokers.

Prospects coveted the property, and some even crafted plans to spend millions of dollars on upgrades to the aging center on Federal Highway, just north of Palmetto Park Road.

But the deal was pulled last month after pricing fell short of expectations. Brokers say would-be buyers lowered their purchase price because the center’s apartments weren’t part of the sale. Only the retail space, offices and office tower were included.

As a result, the bid price fell short, and the project was pulled from the market, sources said.

The project might still be sold if an unknown magic number is offered. But right now, nothing is in play. Mizner Park manager Andrew McKinney declined to comment.

But Mayor Susan Haynie said she was aware the property had been offered for sale.

Whether it is sold now or in the future, Haynie said the city will need to work closely with the owner because some of the project’s ground leases will be coming due during the next five years.

The city likely “will sell those to whoever owns the structures,” she said.

Mizner Park is an Italianite low-rise collection of buildings surrouding a central green space featuring fountains and benches. It evokes the feel of a downtown with streets that run through its interior, a design familiar to those who frequent CityPlace in West Palm Beach.

But unlike the massive CityPlace, Mizner Park is more intimate. A collection of boutiques, restaurants and once, the popular bookstore Liberties, made it an instant hit among the well-off and wannabes of Boca Raton and surrounding areas.

Through the years, Mizner Park’s tenant roster changed as new stores and eateries moved out and others moved in. More recently, General Growth has revived the center by bringing in the popular Ipic Theaters luxury movie theater to replace a former indie movie house.

Mizner Park also features an amphitheater that hosts musical performances, holiday events and a range of cultural offerings throughout the year.

Now that a trade is on hold, Haynie said the city is  working to improve Mizner Park’s parking issues. The street parking is paid, but the garages are free; however, the garages fill up with employee and valet parking.

This is especially the case since the Lord & Taylor department store opened at Mizner Park in 2013, she said.

So Haynie said the city and General Growth are looking for ways to move some parking offsite, such as to city-owned properties or nearby properties not in use at certain times.