Why are we proposing a Center for Arts & Innovation in Boca Raton?

 

The City of Boca Raton has almost every desirable amenity for its residents, businesses, tourists, etc. But the one component that has been out of step with the otherwise world-class nature of our city is our cultural infrastructure.
 
Culture and arts are economic drivers and inspiration creators. Cultural centers beautify and animate cities, inspire a community, attract well-educated employees and businesses, and contribute to a creative, innovative and economically-vibrant environment. Simply put, most cultural infrastructure in Boca Raton does not meet the needs of our institutions or the quality of life we enjoy in nearly every other sector.
 
Today, lacking adequate infrastructure, major national and international acts skip over Boca Raton and head north or south along the Gold Coast. Aside from the opportunities lost, this has had important implications for Boca Raton’s economy. Residents of Boca Raton and adjacent communities now drive 20 to 30 miles to access cultural experiences in professional venues – and taking their money with them.
 
Additionally, our residents desire this type of cultural infrastructure. Recent survey participants illustrate this desire. A survey, conducted by Song & Associates and presented at the April 9, 2017 City Council Workshop, revealed that 65% of residents (out of 800 surveyed) wanted a performing arts center and resulted in the city reflecting in their minutes that they sought to proceed with conceptualizing a 1,500-seat proscenium theatre. *Excerpt from August 2017 City Council Workshop Presentation.
 
Then, in 2019, our organization introduced an online survey to the community asking if they were in support of this project at Mizner Park and, with hundreds of responses, 99% said they were in favor of the project and 80% of the respondents said they would use the new Center frequently (once a week).
 
Lastly, with Boca Raton attracting younger families, new corporate headquarters and high-net-worth individuals from other urban areas around the country due to COVID-19, what amenities are we providing? To truly be a world-class city, we need to offer our residents, businesses and tourists world-class infrastructure in all sectors.
 
For these reasons and so much more, it’s time we further the quality of life and experiences for our residents, visitors, cultural organizations and corporations in Boca Raton. It’s time we attract the national and international programming that chooses to instead seek venues in our neighboring cities. It’s time to fulfill the promise of bringing an arts-centered hub to Boca Raton. It’s time for Boca’s Own Center for the Arts.

Who is behind this effort?

 

In order to make this vision a reality, a nonprofit organization was formed with individuals who are dedicating their time and talents every day to this endeavor.
 
Their mission is simple:
 
To explore the feasibility of creating a comprehensive, economically-vibrant, innovative and sustainable cultural destination in Boca Raton that will enhance the arts and cultural infrastructure in our city; benefit our the residents, patrons, visitors, organizations and civic and business communities; and be a landmark along the Gold Coast for future generations of audiences, artists, businesses, technologies and institutions.
 
Those who have come together to form this organization are from a diverse background in every aspect of the word. From a former ballerina turned land-development engineer to a hotelier, savvy business leaders who loves the arts to philanthropists who want to see this community complete its offerings, this Board is comprised of individuals who collectively carry the vision and experience necessary to lead this exciting project for our great city.

 

Board of Directors

Andrea Virgin, President

Kelly Homnick DiMaria, Treasurer

Amanda Weiner, Secretary

Patricia Cruz Kilgallon, Director

Dan Guin, Advisory Board Chair

John Tolbert, Advisory Board Vice Chair

 

Advisors

Boca Ballet Theatre

Boca Raton Museum of Art

Boca Raton Resort & Club

Boca Raton Theater

BRE Hotels and Resorts

Daszcal Bolton

Festival of the Arts Boca

Mizner Park Cultural Center

The HARID Conservatory

The Symphonia

Youth Orchestra of Palm Beach County

Who has been hired to work on the project?

 

It takes a village to bring a visionary project of this scale to fruition. In addition to great leadership, we knew we needed to attract the best-of-the-best from around the world to bring Boca Raton a Center for Arts and Innovation that is of the same quality as this great city.
 
The following companies, all of the highest caliber, are working diligently on this project to bring us this sustainable, beautiful and cutting-edge destination.

 

Consultants

Avirom & Associates, Inc.
Surveying and Mapping

DeVos Institute of Arts Management at the University of Maryland
Business Plan, Strategic Planning, Feasibility Studies and Capital Campaign

Gunster
Legal Services

IBI Group
Architecture and Master Planning

JMD Engineering
Traffic and Parking Studies

OGK Creative
Advertising, Marketing, Website and Public Relations

Surale Phillips
Economic Impact Study

Walter Duke + Partners
Commercial Appraisal

 

Where is the project being proposed?

 

Following our presentation in October 2018, it was recommended by the City Council that we canvas the city further to ensure all possibilities were explored. As such, four sites, including the originally proposed location on Spanish River Boulevard, were considered.
 
After much consideration and discussion, Mizner Park’s north end (adjacent to the amphitheater) was selected as the project site. The site was chosen for many reasons, including:

  • This type of cultural infrastructure was master-planned decades ago at the north end of Mizner Park. This proposed Center – a destination for culture, business, family and community – will finally, and fully, bring to fruition Mizner Park’s founding promise as Boca Raton’s cultural center of gravity.
  • Ability to support and enhance the existing complimentary uses in Mizner Park and the downtown overall such as existing retail, dining, hospitality and multi-family residential units. Mizner Park is coming to an inflection point and is in need of its next chapter of reinvention. This Center will provide the foot traffic so desperately needed to reduce tenant turnover in Mizner Park and allow it to remain as a thriving cultural hub.
  • Ability to support the reinstatement of our robust and growing tourism market due to its proximity to the major hotels in our city.
  • Ability to provide additional ridership on the newly approved Brightline, due to the uniqueness of this venue as a remarkable destination for a number of reasons.
  • The City Council provided our organization with unanimous conceptual support for this use at this location.

What is being proposed?

 

The Center imagines six diverse and adaptive performance and event spaces — indoor and outdoor — ranging in seating capacity from 99 to 3,500 seats. These can be programmed as individual spaces or combined to host events for nearly 6,000 total attendees.
 
The venues include a state-of-the-art, 1,100-seat concert and performance hall, designed as a multi-form theater; an amphitheater stage that can be transformed into a 450-seat “Black Box” space through use of an innovative bi-fold door; the 3,500-seat Mizner Park Amphitheater, which can be programmed simultaneously with the “Black Box” space; a jewel-box, 99-seat performance hall that can be converted into a large rehearsal studio; an outdoor rooftop terrace, which can accommodate an estimated 200 patrons; and a large, open-air lobby situated above ground level, protected from the elements by an innovative canopy feature.

What is Multi-form Theater Design?

 

The shape-shifting flavor of the architecture proposed for the main theater, 99-seat space and amphitheater interiors envisions multi-form theatre typology and emerging technologies, such as 360-degree video projection and advanced audio. Floor, ceiling and walls can be adjusted into multiple configurations, from proscenium stage to multi-purpose theater to concert hall. Furthermore, retractable seating allows for a flexible flat-floor configuration geared toward corporate events, interactive media, film and music festivals, and conventions focused on the creative industries.

What does it mean that the Center will be an adaptive building?

 

The building’s design envisions adaptive systems that will make the Center self-optimizing in terms of energy efficiency and indoor air quality. These include passive solar design, kinetic shading elements that guide airflow and promote natural cooling, a geothermal heat pump for efficient heat transfer, indoor air filtration and cleaning technologies, and landscaping and structural elements that make outdoor space usable for more days, each year.

What other aspects of this Center make it innovative?

 

This Center will offer a level of convening flexibility, scalability and ingenuity that is unmatched in the region. We know we must deliver a building that addresses the opportunities of our times and anticipates the needs of residents, artists and businesses of the future. This is key to the business plan but also a strategy that is central to the effort to introduce substantial new footfall for Mizner Park’s retail and culinary businesses, and an entirely new audience for Boca Raton’s arts organizations.
 
Three key features explain our approach:
 
First, each of the Center’s spaces will be equipped with technology that dramatically expands possibility for both artists and event organizers. Throughout the complex, the use of video projectors, LED screens and other broadcast equipment will enable simultaneous experience across and between its spaces, dramatically increasing both artistic and business opportunity. Simulcasts of performances, lectures or events taking place in the main theater will be viewable across all five spaces, as well as on to the exterior of the building for an outdoor audience (thereby increasing capacity and ticket revenue and altering the audience experience). Indeed, even the underside of the canopy is being designed as a night-time projection surface.
 
Secondly, the building’s design includes adaptive features such as passive solar design, kinetic elements that guide air-flow and promote cooling, and landscaping and external shading elements that create more usable public space for more days each year.
 
Finally, we are designing with the intent to provide suitable facilities for a leading academic research institution (think: MIT Media Lab) to treat the Center as an R&D showcase for innovations in storytelling and artistic performance. As such, this Center is being built in anticipation of the needs of artists, community and workers for the next hundred years.

What economic impacts can be expected once the Center is open?

 

The Center for the Arts & Innovation means business for Boca Raton, Palm Beach County, the Gold Coast and the southeastern region of the United States. In its first five years, the Center will:

  • Produce more than $1.3 billion in overall economic benefits.
  • Support more than 12,000 jobs, with the workers in these jobs earning incomes of $513.5 million.
  • Attract more than 274,000 business travelers representing the creative and tech industries and academia to meetings and events.
  • Retain 94,000 local residents who otherwise would likely travel elsewhere to attend events.
  • Attract more than 1.2 million visitors and retain the spending of over 382,000 local residents in the Palm Beach County economy.
  • Exceed $894 million in tourist and retained resident spending.
  • Attract more than 2.1 million hotel room nights resulting in over $441 million in spending on lodging.

By year five (projected to be 2029), the spending of visitors and retained locals plus the operations of the Center is projected to support more than 3,200 jobs with incomes of approximately $136.5 million. The overall annual economic benefits will amount to $342.5 million. Assuming these benefits continue into the future, the Center could generate $10.3 billion in economic benefits to the local economy over a 30-year period.

How much will it all cost?

 

Thanks to incredible partnership with Moss and Suffolk Construction, both major general contractors in the region, we’ve been able to ensure our budget is backed by real, present-day, regional pricing.
 
The physical construction of the project, including contingency and campaign expenses, will cost approximately $109 million. The addition of a maintenance reserve (5% of the capital cost to provide instant funding for any repairs or maintenance in the future) and endowment (approximately $14 million for continuous revenue support and assistance during any potential future downturns in the market) bring that total to approximately $126 million.

How much has been raised to date?

 

We are incredibly grateful for our initial donors who have shown support through their generosity during the most difficult time in a nonprofit’s life — the beginning. These initial donors have enabled us to begin putting structure behind our bold vision and are laying the foundation for this legacy project.
 
Between cash and in-kind services to support our initial soft cost needs, we have raised more than one million dollars. These individuals, known as our Founders Circle, include anonymous donors as well as Andrea Virgin, Elizabeth Dudley, Marleen Forkas, Edith & Martin Stein Family Foundation Inc., Roger and Elena Stein, Laurel Rom, PEBB Enterprises, Amanda Weiner, Paul and Patricia Kilgallon, Patricia Frexes Ramudo, Kelly Homnick DiMaria, Goldman Sachs and Boca Raton Resort & Club.

Can I contribute to the project?

 

We are very grateful to anyone who would want to be involved in this exciting and transformative legacy project. Those who get behind this effort are the individuals and foundations that enable us to re-imagine what it means to experience culture here in Boca Raton, provide us the opportunity to explore the many economic benefits that exciting and quality multi-use performance venues and facilities can bring to our city, and help fulfill the dreams of many residents and arts and culture organizations here in our community.
 
If you’d like to become a part of this movement, please visit our Contact Us page and we’ll reach out with more details. Thank you!

What is the timeframe for the project?

 

We are currently in our planning and stakeholder review phase. If given the green light by the City Council to move forward, we expect the planning, design and fundraising phase to take two to three years (2021-2024), construction and technical fit-out to take two years (2024-2025), with a grand opening proposed to happen in mid-to-late 2025, which happens to be the City of Boca Raton’s 100-year anniversary. What a wonderful way to celebrate our last 100 years of being a leader in innovation as we look ahead to the next 100 years with a next-century piece of infrastructure!