Mission Bay Update: LA Fitness, Dick's Sporting Goods, Rotelli's, etc.

We previously reported that Toys R Us in Mission Bay would close, to be replaced by Dick’s Sporting Goods.
The Toys R Us demolition is well under way, as can be seen in a video we shot recently:

It’s a popular plaza. We generally see a high volume of people and cars. At the north end Fresh Market pulls in a substantial flow. Toys R Us was something of a draw in the middle, but the store seemed dated. Dick’s will probably bring in even more. On the south side the fountain area seems to pull a lot of people in, especially the LA Fitness gym and Panera Bread.
We’ve heard several reports from readers that the plaza is raising rents. Considering the volume this plaza pulls in, that probably makes sense. This has led to some changes.

The spot we think Rotelli's is heading in West Boca Square.
The spot we think Rotelli’s is heading in West Boca Square.

Yesterday we learned that Rotelli’s will be leaving in early May, moving to the West Boca Square plaza near Hobby Lobby. That’s a tough move. We’ve seen at least three pizza places fail in that location and we’re told it was a Rotelli’s before that. Rotelli’s management tells us they expect to close in Mission Bay at the beginning of May and reopen in West Boca Square within a few days.
boca-indian-grill
In that same fountain area we saw a sign for an Indian restaurant coming in, Boca Indian Grill. We have been whining about the need for an Indian restaurant in West Boca for a few years now and we are hoping it will be good.
teriyaki-madness
We mentioned back in November that a new Asian grill is also coming to Mission Bay. We looked in a couple days ago and it looks like they aren’t close to opening yet.
Several readers have mentioned talk that LA Fitness would open a new entrance facing the parking lot (between Panera and Toys R Us). We think that’s true. We were looking on the property owner’s website and found an updated site plan that expands LA Fitness to take over a few storefronts:
toys-la-fitness
That plan is dated January 11, 2016, before Toys R Us had closed. We will keep watching for an update. We notice that a few storefronts in front of Toys R Us show as “vacant” which suggests that space will be added to the new Dick’s Sporting Goods.

Doctor Arrested in Allianz Holocaust Protest

Jay and Genie Lieberman
Genie and Jay Lieberman

Boca Raton Police arrested Dr. Jay Lieberman for trespassing, arising out of a protest related to the Holocaust. Lieberman is a Margate podiatrist who lives in Parkland. His wife Genie is a director of the Gloria Drummond Rehabilitation Institute at Boca Raton Regional Hospital.
Medium.com reports (we have confirmed some details but not all) that Mrs. Lieberman’s late father was Holocaust survivor Ivar Segalowitz. He was unable to pursue his claims against Allianz. He was 11 years old when his family was deported to a concentration camp, leaving him unable to even determine if his family was covered by a policy. However, he said then that his family lived a typical upper middle class lifestyle and he was certain that members of his extended family or parents would’ve carried such insurance.
Allianz protester
Allianz protester

Mr. Segalowitz succumbed to cancer in 2014 having never received information from Allianz. Dr. Lieberman also lost family members in the Holocaust, killed at the Treblinka concentration camp.
Dr. Lieberman’s arrest was captured in a photo:
lieberman-arrest
And his mugshot is available on the Sheriff’s blotter:
lieberman-mugshot
It’s unclear why his glasses were removed for the mugshot, but it may be standard practice.
The protesters claim Allianz has not done enough to resolve claims from Jews who had insurance policies with them before the war, and assert the company owes $2.5 billion to survivors. You can read more about the issue in a recent article in the Sun-Sentinel.
We reached out to Allianz for comment but they did not respond. We also reached out to Congressman Ted Deutch (D-West Boca), who has supported Holocaust survivor issues, but his office did not respond either.
Genie Lieberman’s 2014 prepared statement to Deutch’s congressional subcommittee is below:
[gview file=”http://westbocanews.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/HHRG-113-FA13-Wstate-LiebermanE-20140918.pdf”]

Why We Like Mathnasium

We have been fans of Mathnasium for four years now. The results are outstanding. We’ve seen kids who were struggling at their grade level of math improved to perform very well at two grade levels ahead. We wrote about the West Boca Mathnasium’s opening last year.

Amy & Harel; Mathnasium in Westwinds of Boca (between Home Depot and Publix)
Amy & Harel; Mathnasium in Westwinds of Boca (between Home Depot and Publix)

A lot of parents go to math tutoring for homework help or test prep. Mathnasium does that, and does it just as well as anyone else. But Mathnasium is special because of “Number Sense.” This short video explains that a little:

We do not take our kids to Mathnasium for homework help or test prep at all. We focus on the Number Sense curriculum. This is not about the short term goal of the next homework or the next test. We are interested in the long term goals of readiness for math at the high school and college levels, as well as tests like the SAT and ACT.
Like many parents, we are unhappy with the math curriculum in our schools. People love to blame one group of politicians or another. The truth is that politicians of all stripes and education bureaucrats have been destroying math education for decades. It dates back to New Math in the 1960s and has only gotten worse.
Mathnasium’s own curriculum brings kids back to math that makes sense. We have found it particularly helpful with kids in elementary and middle school. In a way it’s like a vaccine. Spending a couple extra hours a week doing math the right way inoculates kids against the sickness of Common Core and No Child Left Behind. It helps them develop a solid foundation of real understanding, making it easier to learn higher level math when they get there.
To think about it another way, spending a couple extra hours a week doing math can only help a child for those high stakes college admissions tests down the road. If it gets your kid an extra 50 or 100 points on the Math SAT, that makes a significant difference in what schools they can get into and what scholarships might be available. Thinking even longer term, a kid who might otherwise be scared of the math in engineering or some other subject could be more ready to take on those challenges.
Mathematical literacy is tremendously important for college-bound kids. For those who are looking to give their kids an extra boost, we highly recommend Mathnasium. It’s not an overnight fix, but a process that leads to substantial improvement after a year or two.
Here’s another video about Number Sense, with the Mathnasium founder:

Toys R Us Closing in Mission Bay; Dick's Sporting Goods Coming

Update: See response from Toys R Us at bottom

 Toys R Us in Mission Bay Plaza; image by Google
Toys R Us in Mission Bay Plaza; image by Google

We’ve heard persistent rumors that Toys ‘R Us in Mission Bay would be closing and we can now confirm that. We called and talked to store employee, who identified himself as Tony Sandals. However we received a phone call from a man named Tony Sandals who says it wasn’t him, and he had quit before Christmas.
They started a store closing event yesterday. Everything in the store is up to 40% off and there are no returns allowed. The store employee expects that the store will be completely closed by the end of January. He was not able to tell us if the store will open in another nearby location.
The store employee also confirmed another rumor, that the spot will be filled by a new Dick’s Sporting Goods store. We would guess it will take at least a couple months for Dick’s to get going, and maybe not until the summer.
We had previously attempted to confirm these rumors with the firm that manages Mission Bay Plaza. The leasing agent did not respond and the property manager hung up on us.


Toys R Us responds:
I wanted to reach out as we had seen your story on our Boca Raton, FL Toys“R”Us store closing and wanted to correct/verify some of this information.
The Toys“R”Us store located at 20429 State Road 7 in Boca Raton will be closing at the end of the company’s lease term for this property, which is at the end of January.
Items purchased during the liquidation sale cannot be returned. As indicated on receipts, all sales during this time period are final. Items purchased prior to the liquidation sale on Saturday, December 26 can be returned under our normal return policy guidelines (including to the Mission Bay store). For more information and to view our full return policy, please click here.
Gift cards can be redeemed at the store until it closes. After that, customers can use their gift cards at any other Toys“R”Us or Babies“R”Us location nationwide, or online at www.Toysrus.com or www.Babiesrus.com.
At this time, we do not have any plans for a new store in the Boca Raton area. We’ve enjoyed serving the Boca Raton community for many years. We continue to operate a number of stores throughout the state of Florida, including a Toys“R”Us/Babies“R”Us store at 6001 West Sample Road in Coral Springs and a Toys“R”Us store at 601 N. Congress Avenue in Boynton Beach. Customers can also shop 24 hours a day on www.Toysrus.com and www.Babiesrus.com.
–There is also a Babies“R”Us store in West Boca Square (aka the Target plaza).–

New Projects Coming: Clint Moore & 441; and Boca Rio

Thomas Produce viewed from 441; image by Google
Thomas Produce viewed from 441; image by Google

Two new projects appear to be coming to West Boca. First on the list is the Thomas Produce property on the northeast corner of 441 and Clint Moore. The original plan, for 300 townhomes and a large retail space, has been drastically changed.

The request for Multiple Land Use (MLU with CL, LR-2) would provide for a mix of commercial retail, storage, office, and congregate living facility uses which are consistent and compatible with the surrounding suburban land use pattern in the geographic area.

We previously reported that another congregate living facility is under way in Logger’s Run.
The Thomas property zoning change has been recommended to the Board of County Commissioners. In late October the BCC voted 6-1 to send it to a final vote on January 27th. Our commissioners, Mary Lou Berger (mostly west of the Turnpike) and Steven Abrams (east of the Turnpike) both voted in favor.

Tri-County Animal Shelter from Via Ancho and Boca Rio; image and map data by Google.
Tri-County Animal Shelter from Via Ancho and Boca Rio; image and map data by Google.

Next up is a proposal by the Tri-County Humane Society to expand their animal shelter on the west side of Boca Rio south of Via Ancho (south of Glades by the Post Office):

The Preliminary Site Plan for the 14.05-acre site indicates 40,000 square feet, in 9 buildings and 5 structures, which is a proposed increase of 23,997 square feet. The applicant proposes to remove and/or relocate trailers and structures; and, to construct 2 building additions and 5 new 1-story buildings in 3 phases with the 5-acre western portion reserved for future development. A total of 102 parking spaces will be provided. The existing access points from Boca Rio Road (1) and Via Ancho Road (1) will remain.

We believe this was approved in 2012 and a reader recently told us that construction has begun.
Some of the documents we have on these are below:
[gview file=”http://westbocanews.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/via-ancho-animal.pdf”]
[gview file=”http://westbocanews.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/ThomasPet-Sum-Revised.pdf”]
[gview file=”http://westbocanews.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/Thomas-Application.pdf”]

Big Changes in Loggers' Run Shoppes

dunkin-wendys
Things are happening in the Shoppes at Loggers’ Run plaza (Palmetto Park Road about 2 miles west of 441, across from the middle school). As we’ve reported in the past, Dunkin’ Donuts is coming. It’s more than just donuts. We now have more detail on several changes.
loggers-map
As you can see on the map above (full flyer at bottom), the plaza is marketing four separate spaces available for lease. Starting with the new “outparcel” building, there are three spaces, each with about 1450 square feet of space.
dunkin-layout
The Dunkin’ Donuts will be the furthest west and it looks like it will have a drive-thru window on the western wall (see photo at top of this article).
Also available is another small space in the middle near the post office and Mama’s Pizza.
One of the bigger spaces is a story we’re sad to see. The Player’s Edge indoor baseball facility, next to Monkey Joe’s, has closed. This sign was in the door.
playersedge
For those who don’t realize it, it’s tough to run a business. The nearly 15,000 square feet (about twice the size of the proposed Benihana in the Home Depot plaza) in this space means monthly rent in the ballpark of $27,000. You have to generate a lot of revenue to pay that, plus all the other expenses.
That also means it will be tough to fill that space. It might be deep enough for some 50-yard rifle lanes, but that probably won’t happen. And it’s way too big for our dream of an Indian restaurant (maybe one of the other spaces?).
art-studio-wide
There are two other new businesses in the plaza. We noticed one between Monkey Joe’s and Kumon. The owner of Creative Elephant Arts and Crafts Studio is apparently Inna Marty Nenko, but she was not in when we visited. They will offer a variety of classes as well as summer camp sessions (maybe they’ll advertise in our summer camp directory?).
art-studio-front
There’s also a gym coming – FitRX, just west of Monkey Joe’s. Other than the photos we took we don’t have any more details on it.
fitrx-monkey
fitrx-sign
The full flyer for the plaza is below:
[gview file=”http://westbocanews.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/loggers-rent-flyer.pdf”]

Benihana Coming to Westwinds of Boca


We’ve heard rumors for years now and it’s finally true. Benihana is coming to Westwinds of Boca (aka the Home Depot plaza) on the southeast corner of 441 and Glades. Originally we heard this what was going into the new building that now has Pei Wei and a few other stores.

The old Denny’s; photo by Warren Redlich

While we heard all those rumors, people also kept asking us “what’s going on with the Denny’s building.” Now we have the answer. There is a proposal pending before the county, titled “Benihana at Festival Shoppes of Boca Raton” (the old name of Westwinds). The essence of the plan:

The Applicant is requesting to reconfigure the Site Plan and add square footage. The Preliminary Site Plan indicates the existing Type II Restaurant (3,154 sq. ft.) to be demolished and a new (8,060 sq. ft.) restaurant to be constructed.

The zoning commission has scheduled a hearing for December 4th, and then it will go in front of the County Commissioners on January 7th. Sometimes these dates get pushed back, but it appears to be coming soon. One reader even tells us she saw workers at the building.
There are already a couple of Japanese steak houses in West Boca, with Tempura House at Clint Moore & 441, and Saito’s at Lyons and Glades. Benihana is may be a step up in quality, but we’ll see if and when they open.

Benihana to replace Denny’s in Westwinds of Boca, southeast corner of Glades and 441; image and map data by Google.

Overall the parking in that plaza can be a nightmare, though the worst of it is closer to Home Depot and Publix. Doubling the size of this building will bring in a lot more cars, but we think there’s room for it. Plus we’re excited to try it.
It’s always a good sign for the local economy when businesses want to open and expand.
The full zoning application is below:
[gview file=”http://westbocanews.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/1990-00024DOA-2015-01723_Benihana-at-Festival-Shoppes-of-Boca-Raton.pdf”]

New Project in Logger's Run: Assisted Living

Update (July 2017): The Assisted Living Facility is now named Symphony at Boca Raton. We called and a recorded message said they expect to open in November of 2017.
ponderosa-cobblestone1
Many readers have asked us what’s going on on the northwest corner of Ponderosa and Cobblestone. The location is north of Packy’s and the Montessori school, and borders the Crystal Cove Estates subdivision.

We looked into this further and learned that a 168-bed assisted living facility is being built. The name of it is: Cobblestone Place Congregate Living Facility. This is a form of housing intended primarily for seniors who need substantial nursing or medical assistance but not 24-hour supervision. You can read more on the Florida Elder Affairs website.
From the plan document we reviewed, there will be 90 parking spaces initially as required, with additional space set aside for 74 spaces if necessary.
Addressing concerns we’ve heard from residents, the plan is attempting to minimize the impact on neighbors:

The site has been design[ed] to orient the 3-story portion of the building away from the adjacent residential properties to the north with additional setbacks and required buffers to minimize any impact. In addition, the service driveways and service areas are located in areas away from the adjacent residential properties and are placed towards the interior of the building which will provide screening from any perceived nuisances.

We’re not sure that description fits with the overhead map in the project document, which shows only a fifteen foot buffer between an internal circular driveway and the existing wall on the south side of Crystal Cove:
cobblestone-alf
To us it looks like a large building is being squeezed into a tight space.
Here are some “elevation” images of what the project should look like:
cobblestone-elevations2
cobblestone-elevations
This is an image showing data from the project:
cobblestone-data
The project is apparently owned by a Delaware corporation controlled by Capital Health Group and a man named Kenneth Assiran.
Here’s a 2014 interview with Mr. Assiran that mentions Boca Raton:

The transcript of that interview is available at Levin Associates.

Steve Monroe
Got you. Okay, good. Now, that’s a big deal for you to start the year. Do you have anything else like that in the pipeline for the rest of 2014?
Ken Assiran
Yes, we have other prospects we’re looking at. We’re looking at also developing a couple of deals. As a matter of fact, it’s very opportune that we’re in South Florida because we’ve bought some land in Fort Lauderdale and soon we are going to buy some land in Boca Raton and we’re going to build two large buildings in South Florida. We have a major commitment to South Florida or Florida.
I don’t know if you know this or not, but our management company now manages 75 buildings.
Steve Monroe
I knew it was up there; I didn’t know it was that high.
Ken Assiran
Yeah, we have quite a few. I believe we have eight in South Florida, so we’re really making a major investment in the Southeast.
Steve Monroe
Well, the Florida housing market is getting better, the Florida economy is getting better, so it’s probably not a bad place to be as long as too many people don’t follow you in the new development side.
Ken Assiran
Well, I think in South Florida, in Boca Raton and in Fort Lauderdale, it seems like in the markets here, there hasn’t been a lot of new product built here and I think the markets are ready for some new product.

The 32-page pdf from 2012 describing the project is below:
[gview file=”http://westbocanews.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/cobblestone-2012.pdf”]

ALDI Opens October 14th; Grand Opening 15th

aldi-2-red
We’ve received official word from ALDI that the Grand Opening of their West Boca store will be on October 15th.

To celebrate the opening of the first Boca Raton store, ALDI will host a ribbon-cutting ceremony at 9 a.m. on Thursday, Oct. 15. Following the ceremony, the first 100 shoppers will receive a golden ticket, each containing ALDI gift certificates of various amounts.

Unofficially we think the store will open for business on October 14th, as shown by a handwritten sign on the front and what we’ve heard from other sources – see images below and at top.
aldi-1
The new store is located in West Boca Square, the plaza on the northwest corner of 441 and Palmetto Park Road. Target is at the north end of the plaza with Chili’s at the south end. ALDI will open next to Hobby Lobby in part of the space formerly occupied by Beall’s.
We previously wrote about ALDI coming to West Boca in May of last year. It took a year and a half, but they’re coming.
Here’s the official release:
On Thursday, Oct. 15, ALDI, the nation’s low-price grocery leader*, will offer Boca Raton shoppers a smarter alternative as it opens its first Boca Raton store, located at 21759 State Road 7. With more than 1,400 stores in 32 states, ALDI is known for high-quality grocery items at incredibly low prices.
To celebrate the opening of the new Boca Raton store, ALDI will host a ribbon-cutting ceremony at 9 a.m. on Thursday, Oct. 15. The public is invited to attend. Following the ceremony, the first 100 shoppers will receive a golden ticket, each containing ALDI gift certificates of various amounts. Customers can also tour the store, sample ALDI exclusive brand products and enter an on-site sweepstakes for a chance to win a year’s supply of ALDI produce. ALDI currently carries nearly 70 varieties of fruits and vegetables, including several organic produce items.
“We look forward to introducing Boca Raton shoppers to ALDI, where they can find the majority of their average weekly shopping list from our exclusive brand products – including fresh meats, fruits, vegetables and bakery items – for up to 50 percent** less,” said Chris Hewitt, Royal Palm Beach division vice president for ALDI. “We are committed to bringing ALDI customers the highest quality products at the lowest possible prices in a simple and easy-to-navigate shopping environment.”
The Boca Raton store features high ceilings, natural lighting and environmentally-friendly building materials – such as recycled materials and energy-saving refrigeration and light bulbs – to ensure that customers enjoy a shopping experience that is simple and easy to navigate.
In addition to the store’s new look, ALDI will bring shoppers a wide range of new, healthier options like organic produce, USDA Choice beef and the SimplyNature line of products, free of artificial colors, flavors or unnecessary enhancers. ALDI also recently introduced its liveGfreeTM gluten-free product line.
Customers can expect to find more than 1,300 of the most commonly purchased items sold under ALDI exclusive brands for prices up to 50 percent less than traditional supermarkets. To ensure its exclusive brands meet or exceed the national brands on taste and quality, ALDI conducts rigorous testing on all products. ALDI stands behind this quality with a Double Guarantee: If for any reason a customer is not 100 percent satisfied with a food product, ALDI will gladly replace the product and refund the customer’s money.
ALDI exemplifies efficiency by eliminating overhead costs through smart practices, such as a cart rental system, through which shoppers insert a quarter to release a cart and receive the quarter back upon the cart’s return. Other cost-saving practices include a smaller store footprint, open carton displays and encouragement of customers to bring their own shopping bags.
ALDI also saves shoppers money by keeping stores open during prime shopping times. The newest location will be open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday and from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Sunday. ALDI accepts cash, debit and EBT cards.
Over the next several years, ALDI plans to add an average of 130 new stores each year, expanding the ability to bring grocery savings to more people every day.
About ALDI Inc.
A leader in the grocery retailing industry, ALDI operates more than 1,400 US stores in 32 states, primarily from Kansas to the East Coast. More than 30 million customers each month save up to 50 percent** on their grocery bills, benefiting from the ALDI simple and streamlined approach to retailing. ALDI sells more than 1,300 of the most frequently purchased grocery and household items, primarily under its exclusive brands, which must meet or exceed the national name brands on taste and quality. ALDI is so confident in the quality of its products, the company offers a Double Guarantee: If for any reason a customer is not 100 percent satisfied with any ALDI food product, ALDI will gladly replace the product and refund the purchase price. ALDI was named the 2014 Retailer of the Year by Store Brands Magazine for its strong commitment to value and innovation-focused private brand product development. For more information about ALDI, visit www.aldi.us.

Warranty Issues at Frameless Shower Doors

Update: The company came and fixed our shower door at no charge. The workers were pleasant and careful. They cleaned up after themselves and were even good with the dog. The problem was a bent lower hinge. They replaced both hinges even though the upper one did not appear to be damaged.
So far the company has not changed the warranty language on their website. We have encouraged them to do so and will update this article if and when they let us know that it has been done.
Before they came we had spoken with a customer service representative and a manager (twice) who both insisted that there was an $85 labor charge. The manager even read the warranty language with us over the phone and still wouldn’t budge. It was only after they became aware of our complaint on Angie’s List and/or this article that they agreed to waive the charge.
With all that said, the shower door looked good new and still looks good now. The price was very reasonable. They’re a good company and we would recommend them to others, but with a caveat that their warranty is not what it seems.
—–
We had a bad experience this morning with “Frameless Shower Doors & Enclosures, Inc.” and we’d like to warn consumers about it. The company is based in Coral Springs.

Back in 2011 we bought a frameless shower door from them. It looks good and has been fine for the past 3+ years. But in the last few weeks we’ve noticed a popping noise.
We found the invoice and called for service. While calling we noticed their website’s installation page describes a lifetime warranty with service free of charge:

All of our installations (South Florida residents) are backed by a free lifetime warranty.* If your custom frameless shower door and/or enclosure ever leaks, squeaks, or if your hardware tarnishes or comes loose, simply call our office and we will send a crew out to your home to address your concerns and if need be, replace your hardware free of charge.
We are so confident in our work and our product that we can offer this guarantee for the lifetime of your enclosure, free of charge.

So you can imagine our surprise when we were told there would be a labor charge of $85 for them to come out and check the problem. The customer service rep told us that her manager said the “free of charge” applies only to hardware. She offered to let me speak to the manager. After a few minutes on hold she came back on to say that the manager was no longer available but I could call back.
There is an asterisk next to “free lifetime warranty” but there’s no asterisk at the bottom of the page, nor anywhere else, that explains what the asterisk is for. And there is no asterisk anywhere near the words “free of charge.”
We read the above text to the customer service rep and she did not accept the language from their own website, deferring instead to her unavailable manager.
Is this merely a customer service fail, or fraud by the company? Should we switch to a company like GlassShowerDirect.com? Please let us know what you think in the comments, either on the website or on our Facebook page.