Governor DeSantis Press Briefing in West Boca

By: Benjamin Schiller

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis hosted a press briefing inside of the Home Depot in West Boca Raton on Friday. DeSantis spoke about hurricane preparations in the state and updates surrounding COVID-19.

During the approximately 40-minute press briefing, DeSantis announced that Home Depot and Publix would be opening three coronavirus testing sites each in the parking lots of their stores across the state. The Home Depot on Glades Road and 441 opened their station on Friday.

Photos by Benjamin Schiller

DeSantis said, “We’ve been able to do 10,000 tests a day at the drive-thru testing sites across the state.” The governor also added that everyone who needs a test could get one, either at a drive-thru testing site or a walk-up testing location.

As of this morning, DeSantis said more than 100,000 people in long-term care facilities had received a test, ranging from staff to residents. The governor also mentioned that “Florida has more deaths in the 90-plus years of age bracket compared to the 65-year-old and younger age bracket” due to COVID-19.

Governor DeSantis hosted his press briefing inside of the West Boca Home Depot to inform the South Florida community of an above-normal hurricane season beginning on June 1st. The governor praised the idea of going to local hardware stores until June 6th to pick up supplies during the tax-free holiday week for disaster preparedness supplies.

DeSantis welcomed Director Jared Moskowitz of the Florida Division of Emergency Management, Palm Beach County Mayor Dave Aronberg, and Boca Raton Mayor Scott Singer to address the media for a total of ten minutes.

After the local leaders spoke, Governor DeSantis opened the floor for questions. One reporter asked the governor about the contact tracing of coronavirus. Governor DeSantis mentioned that the Florida Department of Health has done a “sufficient” job, but said, “contract tracing doesn’t do it all” due to the number of people who may be asymptomatic to the virus.

Following the back and forth between the media and the governor, DeSantis said he is optimistic that the SpaceX launch will take place on Saturday at 3:22 P.M. and plans to attend with President Donald Trump. DeSantis also said he is excited for the Walt Disney Resort in Orlando to host the remainder of the NBA season.

The first-term governor said that Florida would be ready to host the Republican National Committee’s Convention in late August if asked by President Trump to do so. DeSantis cited President Trump’s frustrations at North Carolina for not committing to have a full arena for the convention due to COVID-19 concerns. Governor DeSantis expects an answer from the president within the next week.

Desantis thanked Home Depot for their support and the gift of a special apron at the end of the briefing. As DeSantis walked outside to his motorcade, he was greeted with a mixture of cheers and boos from employees and shoppers.

Home Depot notified local stores across South Florida last night of the governor’s press briefing. Most employees in the store for the press conference were managers and long-time staff members of Palm Beach County and Broward County stores. One employee said it took them “several hours” to set-up the backdrop of the briefing with hurricane supplies and close-off store isles.

The store remained open for the general public, despite Governor DeSantis speaking inside of the entrance closer to the garden section of the store. Approximately 25 members of the press were located inside of the designated press pool, with more than 50 people, consisting of shoppers and store employees, gathered outside of the small space.

Everyone in the store wore a mask and was given a complimentary squirt of hand sanitizer.

Huge Project Proposed for Glades Road

Residents of Palma Vista are concerned about a project proposed for the south side of Glades Road between Home Depot and 95th Avenue. This would be across from the Glades Road library.

Johns Glades West parcel in red near Home Depot and Library. Satellite image and data by Google.
Johns Glades West parcel in red near Home Depot and Library. Satellite image and data by Google.

The proposal, called Johns Glades West (or Johns Glade West) calls for:

  • 169,000 square feet of commercial space with restaurants, a theater, retail and a grocery store
  • A 133,000 square foot parking garage for the stores
  • 7 residential buildings, 5 stories each, with a total of 456 units and a clubhouse all totaling 650,000 square feet of residential space
  • A 112,000 square foot parking garage for the residences
  • A total of approximately 2000 parking spaces

It is our understanding that the developers will make a presentation to the Palma Vista Homeowners Association on November 21st at 7 pm. Some homeowners have expressed concern insufficient notice and about having “5 story buildings looking down on our single family homes.”
This would seem to be a very intensive use of the property with major traffic impacts on Glades Road. Our best guess is that the developer is floating a plan it knows will never get approved and they’ll come in later with a real plan for something much less.
Below is a close-up of the stores section of the plan.
And next the homes section:
PDF of the project plan is below:
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Fire Closes Walmart in Coconut Creek

Image by Google
Image by Google

Early Sunday morning readers notified us of problems at the Walmart on Hillsboro and 441 in Coconut Creek. They saw fire rescue and police vehicles and indicated the store was closed and surrounded by crime scene tape. The store is still closed as of this writing.
Image by Google
Image by Google

We reached out to Walmart as well as to Coconut Creek first responders. We heard back first from Leslie Wright, Senior Media Relations Manager at Walmart’s corporate office in Arkansas. She told us the fire is still under investigation and confirmed the store is still closed. They hope to reopen as soon as possible. She indicated the damage is still being assessed.
The Coconut Creek Police Department referred us to Fire Marshal Jeff Gary of the city’s Fire Rescue team.
Jeff Gary of Coconut Creek Fire Rescue
Jeff Gary of Coconut Creek Fire Rescue

He told us that a fire was reported inside the store Sunday morning at 2 am. The fire was mainly on one rack of shelves. Store employees mostly extinguished it and it was almost out by the time Fire Rescue arrived on scene. There was smoke damage to some produce and other open items including clothing.
Mr. Gary told us that the store is now mostly or all cleaned up. They hope to be open late tonight or first thing in the morning.
Cause of the fire is under investigation by CCFR and CCPD.
From the police report:

On 04/10/2016 at approximately 0157 hours, I responded to 5571 Hillsboro Blvd (Walmart) in reference to a fire.
A small fire was extinguished between aisle 17 and 18 of the check-out lanes by Officer Feisthammel and various Walmart employees. Fire Rescue located a large lighter directly in front of the engulfed aisle. Due to the heavy smoke within the store, all of the patrons and employees were evacuated and CCPD locked it down for security purposes. While on crowd control, Officer Bailey was approached by [Name omitted] (age 33). [He] stated his son, [name omitted] (age 6) was possibly to blame. [Omitted] stated while he was checking out in an adjacent aisle, he lost sight of his son and stated he was possibly playing with a lighter. Ofc. Bailey spoke with [the boy] who acknowledged playing with a lighter. [The boy] was crying uncontrollably and stated he was sorry for his actions but did not directly admit to starting the fire.
The assistant store manager … stated Walmart will be able to provide CCTV surveillance in the near future should it be needed. Centeno notified the stores GM … of the incident. Both [managers] are aware of the … family and the actions of the 6 year old. There were no injuries reported as a result of the fire. Photos of the fire were taken and submitted to Foray as evidence. Case cards issued.

The police report indicates the family lives in the Emerald Bay apartments at Boca Entrada (west side of 441 near SW 18th).

Image and map data by Google
Image and map data by Google

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.
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.
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:
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. If Dick’s does set up a store there then they will sell the usual sports equipment and clothing which will get you ready for anything from Tennis Lessons to football practice.

Doris Market Expanding and Remodeling on Yamato

A couple years ago we heard a rumor that Doris Market might move from its location on Yamato at Lakeridge Blvd. The plaza, Yamato Village Center, was sold to a new owner in 2014, and Doris Market stayed. A manager told us that the new owner has made significant improvements to the plaza, especially regarding lighting, and that has helped business.
We’ve been there a few times recently and we noticed big changes in the market. First, they are expanding. The space just east of the current entrance was occupied by Yamato Pharmacy, which have moved. Doris Market will take over that space. With other changes they will add about 2500 square feet in total.
In the photo below you can see the beginning of remodeling work near the entrance, and you can also see the former Yamato Pharmacy front on the left.
Here is a closer shot of the front of the former Yamato Pharmacy …
They’re doing significant remodeling in various areas of the store. Below is a shot in the entry area which we believe will be expanded …
… and another shot from inside the store near the grocery area:
Last this is a shot of a sign they have showing the new look they’re going for:
From our conversations it sounds like it’s taking longer than they expected but should be fully remodeled by this summer.