The American Planning Association (APA) today announced the designation of Plaza Real in Boca Raton as one of 10 Great Public Spaces for 2010 under the organization’s Great Places in America program. APA Great Places exemplify exceptional character and highlight the role planners and planning play in creating communities of lasting value. Also designated in Florida as one of APA’s Great Places for 2010 is Riverside Avondale in Jacksonville.
“We’re honored to be recognized by the APA as a Great Public Space,” said Mayor Susan Whelchel. “Plaza Real is one of the jewels of Boca Raton and an enduring example of how the public and the private sectors can partner to create and sustain remarkable places.”
Mizner Park and Plaza Real are part of what make downtown Boca Raton a wonderful place to live, work and play,” added Council Member Constance J. Scott, Chair of the Boca Raton Redevelopment Authority. “This goes to show that with creativity, persistence, and effective partnerships obsolete shopping malls can be transformed into vibrant places for everyone to enjoy.”
“It’s quite an honor to be recognized for something you’re so committed to,” said Michael McNaughton, executive vice president for General Growth Properties, owner of Mizner Park. “We are fully committed to providing our shoppers with a total experience. This goes beyond providing a stellar retail line-up. It includes providing aesthetically pleasing spaces that encourage our visitors to linger and enjoy time with their friends and family.”
Through Great Places in America, APA recognizes unique and authentic characteristics found in three essential components of all communities – streets, neighborhoods, and public spaces. APA Great Places offer better choices for where and how people work and live every day and are defined by many things including planning efforts, architectural styles, accessibility, and community involvement.
Since APA began Great Places in America in 2007, 40 Neighborhoods, 40 Streets and 30 Public Spaces have been designated in 47 states and the District of Columbia.
“We’re very excited to name Plaza Real as one of this year’s Great Public Spaces,” said APA Chief Executive Officer Paul Farmer, FAICP. “The Plaza shows the importance and value of including a well-designed and inviting public space when redeveloping an area, which in this case was a shuttered shopping mall. Boca Raton is to be commended for its accomplishment here,” he added.
Located at the epicenter of Mizner Park – the city’s 30-acre commercial, residential and business district, Plaza Real is the result of a 1988 comprehensive redevelopment plan. Prepared by the Boca Raton Community Redevelopment Agency, the plan led to a $56.6 million renovation of the former Boca Raton Mall, which had closed in the late 1980s.
The plaza is fronted by stunning Mediterranean-style architecture. The Countess de Hoernle Amphitheater, the Boca Raton Museum of Art, and the Mizner Park Cultural Arts Association Center all border the Plaza. Movie theaters, restaurants and retail shops dot the landscape and bring life to Mizner Park.
The Plaza is easily accessed by car, bike or foot with four adjacent garages, numerous bike racks, and wide sidewalks and footpaths.
The nine other APA 2010 Great Public Spaces are: Bryant Park in New York City, NY; Charles W. Ireland Sculpture Garden in Birmingham, AL; Fountain Square in Bowling Green, KY; Emerald Necklace in Boston, MA; Ferry Building in San Francisco, CA; Campus Martius Park in Detroit, MI; Percival Landing Boardwalk and Park in Olympia, WA; Rittenhouse Square in Philadelphia, PA; and Main Plaza in San Antonio, TX.