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Posted on: July 23, 2019

Brightline/VTUSA Station & Garage on Track for Boca

Virgin Trains on a railraod track

Update: November 14, 2019

At a lengthy workshop and public discussion on Tuesday, November 12, 2019, the details of a long term lease for City-Owned property were reviewed. Stakeholders had an opportunity to weigh in with concerns and expressions of support, and City staff, along with VTUSA representatives, committed to working closely to clarify lease details based on feedback from the City Council. A City Ordinance authorizes a long term lease, and Ordinance No. 5509, proposing a long-term lease between the City and Brightline/Virgin Trains (VTUSA), was introduced at the City Council meeting on Wednesday, November 13, 2019. The long-term lease is for a train station and parking garage on the site of the current community garden and Downtown Library parking lot. The Planning & Zoning Board recommended approval of the Ordinance on November 21, 2019.  A final public hearing will take place on December 10, 2019. 

  • Prior to the final hearing, City staff and VTUSA representatives will work closely to clarify details of the Lease Agreement and Exhibits, and prepare any further amendments based on workshop discussions. 
  • The Train Station will be funded 100% by VTUSA. 
  • The garage will have 468 spaces, 64 dedicated to the library, and 404 train station spaces which will be open to the public. The garage will have 4.5 levels. 
  • Total garage construction costs are estimated at $14 million with the City paying 86.3 percent and VTUSA paying 13.7 percent.
  • VTUSA will relocate the community garden at a cost not to exceed $300,000. The proposed new site has been identified at the southeast area of Meadows Park.
  • Formal site plans for the station and garage are subject to approval by the Planning and Zoning Board and the City Council.  
  • Additional land in the lease includes the library parcel, generally located south of the proposed garage and the vacant lots between SW 3rd and 4th streets east of NW 2nd Avenue. (discussed as the Transit Oriented Development (TOD) land.) The Lease doesn't assign any rights, but provides that the City shall not sell the land prior to 12/31/2024, and during the term of the lease, VTUSA will have first right of refusal.  

VTUSA representatives answered questions and addressed concerns at the 12/12 workshop.  Stakeholders, including neighbors, business owners, the Friends of the Library, Library Commons neighbors and the Junior League of Boca Raton expressed support, concerns and asked questions. Opportunities for additional public input will continue prior to December 10, 2019. 

Questions and comments can be addressed to communications@myboca.us.

You can view the PowerPoint presentation here:

Update: September 25, 2019

At the City Council meeting on Tuesday, September, 24, 2019, Virgin Trains USA (VTUSA) representatives gave a second presentation on the proposed train station and parking garage on the site of the current community garden and downtown library parking lot. New details emerged as representatives presented a summary of plans and reviewed their discussions with stakeholders including neighbors, the Friends of the Library and the Junior League of Boca Raton.  A summary of the negotiation points presented by VTUSA is as follows:

  • Long term lease for the City owned land to be used for station and parking
  • VTUSA funds and constructs the train station and rail infrastructure
  • VTUSA will operate the train station and offer train service to and from Boca
  • City agrees to fund the design and construction of the public parking garage ( 400 spaces, 181 dedicated to library)
  • VTUSA will relocate displaced library parking at the ground level of the garage at no charge to library visitors
  • VTUSA will relocate any portion of the Community Garden that is displaced as a result of the project (City will assist in finding new space)
  • Grant of an option to VTUSA on the TOD (Transit Oriented Development) land; fair market value to be established through appraisal process
  • City and VTUSA will make best efforts to fund the construction of the elevated pedestrian bridge
  • VTUSA will make best efforts to work with FECR to open a Jeffrey St RRX crossing

Positive discussion with residents and council members ended with direction to City staff to continue negotiating with VTUSA as they incorporate community feedback into their concepts, designs and renderings for the project. You can watch the presentation on the City’s website.

Map and proposed site plan for Virgin Trains USA Boca Raton Station

Click on map to enlarge

July 22, 2019

After Boca Raton expressed an interest in the possibility of having a Brightline (soon to be Virgin Trains USA-VTUSA) station in its downtown, VTUSA representatives confirmed that they would like to deliver train service to Boca Raton in the near future.

In a letter (Virgin letter PDF) to Mayor Scott Singer on July 19, Patrick Goddard, President of Virgin Trains USA Florida, LLC, indicated that Boca Raton is one of the cities that VTUSA has carefully studied, and that the company would like to work with the City to finalize an agreement that would deliver train service to Boca Raton.

As a first step, VTUSA laid out what it was willing to commit to the project and what is would like the City to provide.

VTUSA will:

  • Fund the construction of a VTUSA train station
  • Construct the VTUSA train station
  • Fund the necessary rail infrastructure improvements
  • Construct the necessary rail infrastructure improvements
  • Manage the construction of the train station parking garage
  • Purchase and supply the necessary rolling stock (trains)
  • Operate the VTUSA train station and parking garage
  • Offer regularly scheduled train service seven days a week
  • Replace parking spaces for the library that are eliminated as a result of the train station
  • Work with the City to relocate the library’s community garden and study the possibility of providing the City with community meeting space

In exchange for the above, VTUSA seeks the following from the City:

  • Contribution of the land identified on the attached site plan (“the Site”) to VTUSA
  • Fund the construction for the station parking garage
  • Agree to fund and construct an elevated pedestrian bridge over Dixie Highway; exact location to be determined by both VTUSA and the City.
  • Agreement from the City to provide shuttle service from the station to various locations within Boca Raton to improve connectivity.
  • Agreement from the City to work with VTUSA to properly re-zone the site as necessary to accommodate VTUSA’s various uses. City will also provide expedited permit processing/review for the project.

VTUSA representatives followed up with a visit to the City Council workshop on July 22 to discuss their plans and determine the next steps. Council members and VTUSA representatives heard from residents on a variety of issues including support and excitement about a station, concerns about train horns, concerns about library parking and questions about where the community garden would be relocated.

In the coming months, City staff will be working through the details of land valuation and possible conveyance, development and zoning issues, funding obligations, expenses and challenges that the project will present. As information is gathered, there will be opportunity for additional workshops, public meetings and input. Comments, questions or suggestions? Email communications@myboca.us.


Video from City Council workshop on July 22 below.


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