Stonebridge Country Club is in the northwest corner of Boca Raton, on the west side of 441 north of Clint Moore. The entrance is across from the 441 entrance to The Oaks. The community has just under 400 single family homes. It’s a great community to live in, with a recently renovated golf course, top-notch tennis courts and fitness center, and a gorgeous clubhouse with great food.
This Friday we were invited to an event at the clubhouse put on by the Realtors Association of the Palm Beaches. PBSO Deputy John Ledford was the main speaker, and he talked about safety concerns and practices for real estate professsionals.
The clubhouse is a fairly large space easily holding an event with well over 200 people.
There was even more space in the next room which had the breakfast buffet.
Stonebridge hired John Iannotti as the club’s general manager in 2014. We’ve heard he’s doing a great job, especially with the food. Many people went back for seconds.
The event was followed by a tour of open houses. There are currently 26 homes in Stonebridge on the market with prices ranging from below $200K up to $530K, with one 3-bedroom house currently listed at only $125K as an estate sale. The lowest prices are on Spyglass Way in the northeast corner of the community. There were 17 transactions in the past year from $170K to $500K.
10570 Harich Lane is on the market for $355,000. It has four bedrooms and three full baths in 3000 square feet. The house seemed to be in mostly good shape. The backyard has a pool and faces woods. There’s nothing behind it but empty land and the Loxahatchee Wildlife Refuge.
The master bedroom has a nice slider looking out on the pool.
And the kitchen is in pretty good condition.
Next up is 10402 Stonebridge Boulevard, on the market for $349K. It has four bedrooms and three baths in 3250 square feet, along with a screened-in pool.
On the way to the last house we noticed a gorgeous home not on the market at 10361 Parkstone:
Across the street sits 10360 Parkstone, which has large trees blocking any attempt to get a good photo of the front of the house.
This house has four bedrooms and four baths in nearly 3500 square feet, and is listed for $460K. It did not feel as big as the numbers indicate and we didn’t find it staged in an appealing way, though the kitchen does look very nice.
The screen doors in the backyard seemed to need work, but this was the only house that had a nice view.
Overall this last house appears to be overpriced relative to the other houses on the market.
Like many country clubs, prices are low because of the mandatory membership which gets expensive. It starts with over $50K you need to pay to join the club (another $15K if you join for golf) and in the ballpark of $25K per year in dues, association fees and other expenses.
You can get a great house in Stonebridge for a very good price. It comes with a pleasant lifestyle if you can afford the annual expense.
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.
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. If Florida is too far for you, then you might be interested in checking out this caregiver agency to help you with you find someone to look after you in your old age. However, if Florida is the perfect location for you, then 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:
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:
This is an image showing data from the project:
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:
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?
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.
I knew it was up there; I didn’t know it was that high.
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.
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.
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:
Developer K. Hovnanian has been approved to add 211 townhomes in the middle of the Boca Dunes community, replacing roughly 41 acres of golf course in the process. The new buildings will have about six units each, as depicted in the above image.
As you can see from the images above and below the new structures will be built right in the center of the current area.
According to Hovnanian:
Homes will range in price from $314,000 – $380,000. Spacious 2-story townhome designs will offer living space between 1,600 and 2,500 square feet and 2 – 3 bedrooms. This new residential development is planned for 2016.
We’re not sure how realistic that pricing is. In the past year in Sandalfoot Cove (south of Palmetto Park between 441 and Boca Rio), only six townhomes sold for more than $200K around 1600 square feet. Closer to Boca Dunes the highest price in the past year was $161,000, about half of the low end in the proposed project. Condo sales in the community top out around $150K for 1600 square foot units.
Looking at recently built townhomes in Boca and Delray, ones in the Centra community southeast of Military Trail and Yamato sell for more than this project. The lowest we see for that is $290K for a 1400 square foot 2-bedroom unit, but most were 3-bedrooms selling for over $350K. Four of them sold for over $400K with one over $490K.
In Delray Beach there are two similar developments. 1800 square foot units in Drexel Park are selling for around $300K while similar units in Gramercy Square are generally less with 1900 square footers as low as $255K. All of these have 3-bedrooms.
The Boca Winds Home Owners Association had an emotional meeting tonight to discuss problems with coyotes in the neighborhood. The clubhouse lot overflowed with cars and with a few cars parked on the grass alongside Shorewind Drive.
Four employees of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission attended the meeting. Two spoke to the crowd including a non-uniformed woman whose name we didn’t get, and Public Information Officer Amanda Phillips who was in uniform.
It started with a PowerPoint presentation about coyotes led by the non-uniformed employee, apparently a biologist. She and Officer Phillips then took questions from the audience.
It got contentious at times and at one point Officer Phillips ordered one of the other officers to remove a homeowner from the meeting. It is not clear at this writing how a government official would have authority to remove a homeowner from a private community clubhouse.
It was a packed house with dozens of residents.
The FWC staff insisted that coyotes do not attack humans and that parents have no reason to fear any threat to themselves or their children. Some in the audience found this hard to believe, and the staff undercut themselves a bit when they said that you shouldn’t run from coyotes because then they’ll think you’re prey.
There was talk about trapping the coyotes. At one point there was a question about shooting coyotes and one of the other officers said: “We’re not going to hunt them in Boca.” At one point Officer Phillips suggested arming children with pepper spray.
There was also a lot of discussion about not feeding wild animals, including raccoons and feral cats. These animals become a food source for the coyotes and if you cut off the food source, the coyotes will go somewhere else.
Once the Fish & Wildlife portion of the meeting was over some people filtered outside. The HOA meeting continued inside.
Officer Phillips answered a few questions from CBS 12 and from myself. In that conversation she largely agreed with some of the key points in our earlier article about whether you can shoot a coyote. An individual generally cannot walk around carrying a firearm openly so rifles and shotguns (which are nearly impossible to carry concealed) are not practical. An individual who is carrying a concealed pistol and is confronted by a coyote can shoot the coyote if he or she feels threatened. And you can shoot a coyote on your own property even if you don’t feel threatened, as long as you somehow manage to keep the bullet on your own property. But that is difficult to do in the small lots we have in most of West Boca.
It was this writer’s impression that the vast majority of the residents meeting did not like the idea of people shooting coyotes in the neighborhood. We wonder if that attitude will change if a child is harmed.
Officer Phillips was also asked if it’s realistic to expect that residents can be stopped from feeding wild animals and feral cats considering the large number of homes in the community. She had no answer for that.
As an aside the Boca Winds HOA was very difficult with the media, and not just us. CBS 12 was not allowed to enter the building. An unidentified woman approached me and ordered me to stop taking photographs. It was unclear why she would have any authority to give such an order but I was not there to get in an argument so I stopped taking pictures. We heard that a Palm Beach Post reporter was allowed in and recorded the meeting with an audio recorder but we don’t know that for sure. Because of the presence of government officials, including three visibly armed officers, exercising unclear authority to remove residents, we consider that portion of the meeting a public event. This is a matter of substantial public concern beyond Boca Winds as coyotes have been spotted in Loggers Run and other neighborhoods, and there are a number of other neighborhoods close by. Once the FWC officials left we also left.
It is our understanding that the HOA did hire a trapper previously and that was unsuccessful. We heard from other residents that the HOA was not likely to do anything significant at tonight’s meeting but will meet again to consider further action.
The West Boca Community Council held its regular meeting at the Boca Lago clubhouse on Tuesday evening. A larger than usual crowd of residents heard from county officials.
President Sheri Scarborough, who is also chair of the Palm Beach County Zoning Commission, updated the audience on several changes in the works.
First, construction has started on the Rooms To Go expansion on the north side of Glades Road between 441 and Lyons. We stopped by today to see it for ourselves and our video of the work is below.
We asked inside and learned that the current 26,000 square foot space will be expanded by another 20,000 square feet. The project should take about a year. It has already been quite a while. We reported on the plans back in 2013.
Also coming is a 43-home development by GL Homes south of Eagles Landing Middle School. You can see the location on the image below (courtesy of the county appraiser’s website). South County Regional Park is on the right, and the property in question is on the lower left.
An old map of the plan, dating back to 2006 or before, is below (full pdf at bottom of this article). It’s called the Collier PUD (Planned Unit Development).
Ms. Scarborough also noted that the lights are close to ready on 441 just south of Glades Road, between Sports Authority and the Westwinds Plaza (Publix and Home Depot).
After the meeting was over we asked her about the proposed 300-townhome development on the northeast corner of Clint Moore and 441. She did not have any particular news about the proposal. The first hurdle that has to be overcome is that the property is in the “agricultural reserve.” Unlike most ag-reserve properties, however, Scarborough noted that it is surrounded by non-agricultural development (The Oaks community, the Stonebridge community, and The Reserve shopping center). There’s a process they have to go through to get reclassified out of the ag-reserve but it seems likely to West Boca News that they’ll eventually get there.
County Commissioner Mary Lou Berger spoke next.
Ms. Berger spoke in depth about the panhandling issue and what the County Commission is doing about it. She was an engaging speaker, answering many questions from the audience.
First, she explained that something is in the works. The County Attorney’s office is drafting an ordinance which is expected to go before the County Commission in April. Once it’s reviewed at that meeting it should go before the Commission again in May and if all goes well it will be approved then.
Ms. Berger was emphatic that the ordinance is not limited to vagrants and panhandlers. It is a general ordinance that will affect anyone who tries to solicit or engage in similar activities in the medians of intersections. This is an important distinction and it’s very good that she is talking about like this. If it’s done the wrong way it will be held unconstitutional.
The audience asked whether it will extend to the corners and sidewalks, but that was not clear. She said the County Attorney is working on that language.
Next up was State Attorney Dave Aronberg, the prosecutor for Palm Beach County.
Mr. Aronberg was the headline speaker in the council’s notice for this event, which said he would speak about panhandling. He did not talk about that much, but focused more generally on what he called “quality of life” crimes. The most common crime that his office deals with is “DUS” or Driving Under Suspension. It’s sometimes called DWLS (Driving While License Suspended) and can refer also to revoked licenses or other license problems.
While Mr. Aronberg was mostly a pleasant speaker, his responses to questions presented a stark contrast with Ms. Berger, who answered questions directly.
Aronberg’s focus on suspended drivers opened the door to questions about a prominent case that happened not long ago on 441 in front of West Boca Medical Center. A driver hit three kids and then left the scene. A few weeks later the alleged driver, Brett Knowles of Boca Isles North, posted this beauty on his Facebook page:
West Boca News followed this case closely. Readers notified us in September that 441 had been closed and we went to the accident scene. speaking with family members of victims, contacting the Sheriff, and also Aronberg’s office. In October we reported that charges had not been filed yet, though we made no reference to the State Attorney in that article.
We researched the driver’s history in our courts and found quite a bit. Relevant to the issue of suspended drivers, Knowles was convicted of DUS (or DWLS) at least three times before this incident. There was a fourth case in Broward but we don’t know the results of that one. Knowles has had dozens of other cases including traffic tickets and drug charges.
In December, after getting a copy of the crash report from the Sheriff, we reported that Aronberg was stalling on the case. We noticed that Knowles had been ticketed again in October of 2014 for driving while suspended – while this investigation was pending – and that Aronberg’s office dropped the charge.
Shortly after that article charges from the incident were finally brought against Knowles.
In November and December we e-mailed inquiries to Aronberg’s office for a statement on the accident case and for the records from the dropped case. His office did not respond to either request. The refusal to provide records on the dropped case is a flagrant violation of the Florida Public Records Law (sometimes called the Sunshine Law).
With that background in mind, this reporter asked Aronberg about how his office handles repeat offenders on the Driving Under Suspension law. In particular the law (Section 322.34) allows repeat offenders to be charged with higher level offenses. A second offense can be charged as a first-degree misdemeanor with up to one year in jail. A third offense can be charged as a felony with up to a 5-year prison sentence.
Mr. Aronberg’s office, along with Broward, has repeatedly let Mr. Knowles off easy on these charges.
After he didn’t answer the question the first time this reporter asked him again about his office policy on whether and when his office charges repeat offenders with the higher level offenses provided by the law. Aronberg claimed that they do but provided no specifics. Our readers may have noticed that we frequently report on the criminal history of those arrested. We never see repeat offenders charged with the higher level offenses. This is not just a Palm Beach problem. Knowles’ fourth case was in Broward and was charged at the lowest level as well.
Rather than address the issue Aronberg then decided to attack this reporter. Along with his political consultant in the back of the room they accused me of being rude to their office and engaging in politics.
As a response to that bogus claim, my e-mails to his office are below:
Ms. Cruz and/or Mr./Ms. Harris,
I write to inquire about the State Attorney’s position on the case of Brett Knowles. PBSO advises that the case has been forwarded to the Palm Beach County State Attorney.
Please let us know the status of this case.
West Boca News
Reply from Ms. Cruz (same day):
This case pertains to an active criminal investigation and is exempt from disclosure pursuant to Florida Statute 119.07(2)(c)1.
My reply (again, same day):
I’m not asking for records. I’m asking if the SA has any statement to make on the case. My question relates both to the pending investigation as well as Mr. Knowles past history.
And by the way I don’t see how there’s an active investigation. PBSO finished their investigation. It’s in the SA’s hands now per PBSO. So who’s investigating?
No need to reply until next week.
There was no reply from Aronberg’s office.
Ms. Cruz (and Mr. Edmonson?):
I just noticed that Mr. Knowles had a subsequent DWLS case in Palm Beach County: 50-2014-CT-023520-AXXX-SB, citation # A3B50ZE.
Court records show that case was resolved with a nolle prosse.
Please e-mail or fax (518-708-8752) me all records in the SA’s possession regarding this case. Also, please let me know if the SA has any statement it wishes to make regarding the decision to nolle prosse the case.
Regarding my previous inquiries you asserted that there was an active investigation. I don’t think you can make that argument with regard to a case that has been nolle prossed.
If the Sheriff’s investigation is accurate, three kids were hit by Mr. Knowles while he was driving on a suspended license. Had prosecutors held Knowles accountable according to the law, the accident wouldn’t have happened. Call me rude all you want. Aronberg’s blasé attitude toward repeat offenders makes us all unsafe. His disregard for the Public Records law is offensive for someone in the position of enforcing the law.
The full pdf of the old Collier PUD map is below: