Boca McDonald’s among first in country to roll out table service ‘customer experience’

Boca McDonald’s among first in country to roll out table service ‘customer experience’

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PBSO arrests 18 in Operation Risky Business prostitution sting

WEST BOCA RATON, Fla. – Deputies in Palm Beach County rounded up men they say tried to pay for sex Tuesday. Operation “Risky Business” ended with 18 arrests.

A sheriff’s office spokesperson called the operation a one-day sweep to look for Johns. Deputies focused on the southern side of West Boca Raton because of quality of life complaints in the area.

All 18 men are facing a misdemeanor charge of trying to secure the services of a prostitute.

The sheriff’s office hasn’t said if a deputy posed undercover as a prostitute for this operation.

The spokesperson pointed out one man the agency arrested was more than 80-years-old. Another used his phone as a translator to set up a deal.

If convicted, these men could spend up to 60 days in jail, if this is their first offense for the CRIME.

CHRIS SALAMONE

2 suspects stole jewelry in Boca Raton, police say

BOCA RATON, Fla. — Boca Raton police detectives are looking for two women responsible for stealing jewelry from two Boca Raton stores.

The first theft happened on October 24, 2016 at Neiman Marcus at 5860 West Glades Road. After reviewing surveillance video, Neiman Marcus security saw an employee show two women numerous pieces of jewelry.

At one point one woman distracts the employee while another woman takes a Borgioni diamond bracelet and walks out of the store.

The second theft happened on November 26, 2016 at Mayor’s Jewelers at 6000 West Glades Road.

An employee took out a selection of engagement rings to show the two women. One woman tried on one ring, while the other woman looked at the holder containing the other rings.

One suspect said she had to get her husband and both suspects left the store.

The employee then looked closely at the rings and saw one ring had been replaced with a fake diamond ring.

Surveillance video showed the same two suspects as the Neiman Marcus video.

The suspects are both black females, one suspect is between 30 and 40 years old with short hair.  The second suspect is between 50 and 60 years old, wearing a pink wrap on her head during both thefts.

If you have information on these crimes or recognize the suspects, please call Detective Mitzi Gama at 561-620-6234 or Palm Beach County Crime Stoppers at 800-458-TIPS.

CHRIS SALAMONE

Boca Raton’s downtown building boom may be near end, city says

Amid a recent downtown building boom, Boca Raton’s mayor says the growth spurt could be coming to an end as the city gets closer to fulfilling a redevelopment plan set in the early ’90s.

The building boom in downtown Boca may seem never-ending: Seven new high-rises have soared between seven and 12 stories to redefine the city’s skyline.

And several more buildings are under construction. But the finish line to this extreme makeover is now in sight, the city says.

Two newly proposed apartment buildings would make the downtown hit 100 percent of its building potential, possibly bringing the current growth spurt to an end, the city said. The latest proposals to emerge:

  • A 384-unit complex called Mizner 200, which would be built at 200 SE Mizner Blvd.
  • Camino Square, which would open with 350 units at 171 W. Camino Square.

Both plans, which would be built in the next few years, still are in the design stages. And if approved, they would make the city fulfill its longtime goal: redeveloping 8 million square feet of downtown space.

“What we’ve been doing over the last 25 years is bearing fruit,” City Councilman Robert Weinroth said.

So far, seven out of at least 11 major planned buildings downtown have wrapped up construction while others are either on the way or soon to break ground. Several developments offer both living and retail space.

The city’s efforts to bolster the downtown stem from 1980 when officials designated downtown as “blighted” and focused on overhauling the predominately office-filled area. The plan led to the realization of Mizner Park, the shopping and dining hub, and the park at Sanborn Square, which has hosted an array of concerts and festivals. It also led to the city’s push to redevelop 8 million square feet downtown.

Boca city officials credit the recent renaissance downtown to the economic recovery after the Great Recession.

“As things improved, people all of a sudden renewed interest in developing projects,” Weinroth said. “All of a sudden the development is coming quickly.”

The rapid rise of new buildings has sparked fierce debate in Boca about the future of downtown development.

Proponents say such redevelopment is an economic boon and a symbol of a thriving city, while several community groups argue it’s a mistake to let development loom large. Among their concerns: the extra traffic that would result from having 1,461 new residential units downtown.

Development has become a prominent issue of campaigns in Tuesday’s city election.

“It’s been overwhelming to people,” said Mayor Susan Haynie, who’s running for re-election. “They think this is the beginning, and it’s never going to end. It is going to end eventually.”

Al Zucaro, Haynie’s challenger in the race, wants the growth spurt to end. He remains wary that the City Council only needs to adjust city rules to allow even more growth.

“If this council keeps its pro-development posture, you can bet your bottom dollar that there will be a movement to move this upward,” Zucaro said. “It’s easy to change anything. It’s just an ordinance.”

Last month, city staff projected the downtown will need 1,200 to 2,000 more parking spaces to accommodate growth, on top of the 651 existing parking spaces.

The city also pumped up last year’s nearly $135,800 downtown policing budget to $984,800 for this year, according to its budget.

City officials hope the new projects will mean less traffic because people will be able to walk a short distance from their downtown homes to shops and restaurants. Also plans for downtown trolleys and shuttles may reduce the need for vehicles downtown, they said.

Once Boca hits its redevelopment goal, the city likely would halt its focus on renovating the downtown, Haynie said. She said she doesn’t see any major projects moving in for years, but said existing buildings still could be knocked down and redeveloped.

“There’s about 17 percent left,” Haynie said of the goal to redevelop 8 million square feet of downtown space. “There’s really only a couple significant projects coming forward.”

In the past two years, two of four 12-story projects were completed between Mizner Park and Camino Real. The four projects came after Boca temporarily upped its building height limit, from nine or 10 stories, in 2008. They include:

  • Tower 155, an apartment building that broke ground in November and is expected to be completed in fall 2018.
  • Hyatt Hotel at 100 E. Palmetto Park Road, which was completed in December.
  • The Mark at CityScape at 11 Plaza Real South, which opened in mid-2015.

A fourth project, Via Mizner, comprises three 12-story buildings, one of which was completed in September. The other two, including a Mandarin Hotel, are scheduled to break ground later this year.

Some business owners are hopeful more people downtown will boost the local economy.

“For me as a business owner in downtown, I love it because it’s good for business,” said Ron Filocomo, owner of Big Kahuna Tattoo near the new 12-story Hyatt hotel, which opened in December. “I’m happy about it and I would love for people to be walking past our shop all the time.”

Tower 155, at 199 E. Boca Raton Road, is just across the street from Adriana Saenz’s tailoring shop. The building’s construction has been tough for Saenz’s business, she said, leaving only a few parking spots to spare. But she’s eager for the final result, she said.

“It’s been hard for my clients to get here,” Saenz said. “But I’m looking forward to more clients and more business.”

Boca’s building boom

While seven new high-rise buildings have gone up in Boca’s downtown, at least five other major buildings are either on their way or soon to break ground. Here’s a look at the city’s major downtown construction projects since 2013.

Completed

Boca City Walk

  • Units: 229 apartments
  • Address: 33 SE Eighth St.
  • Number of buildings: One building, seven stories

Hyatt Place

  • Units: 200 hotel rooms
  • Address: 120 E. Palmetto Park Road
  • Number of buildings: One 12-story building

The Mark at CityScape

  • Units: 208 apartments
  • Address: 11 Plaza Real South
  • Number of buildings: One 12-story building

Palmetto Promenade/Archstone

  • Units: 378 apartments
  • Address: 333 E. Palmetto Park Road
  • Number of buildings: Two nine-story buildings and one 10-story building

Via Mizner (Phase One)

  • Units: 366 apartments
  • Address: 101 E. Camino Real
  • Number of buildings: One 12-story building

Under construction

327 Royal Palm Road

  • Units: 25 condominiums
  • Address: 327 E. Royal Palm Road
  • Number of buildings: One nine-story building

Tower 155

  • Units: 170 apartments
  • Address: 199 E. Boca Raton Road
  • Number of buildings: One 12-story building

Via Mizner (Phase Two)

  • Units: 85 apartments and 164 hotel rooms
  • Address: 798 S. Federal Highway
  • Number of buildings: Two 12-story buildings

Proposed

Camino Square

  • Units: 350 units, building height yet to be determined
  • Address: 171 W. Camino Square

Mizner 200

  • Units: 384 units, building height yet to be determined
  • Address: 200 SE Mizner Blvd.

‘Intoxicated’ University of Florida Student Body President-Elect Arrested in Key West

The University of Florida’s student body president-elect was arrested after authorities say he drunkenly knocked over two Harley Davidson motorcycles while on Spring Break in Key West.

William Smith Meyers, 22, was arrested early Tuesday on a charge of criminal mischief, Monroe County Sheriff’s Office records show. He was booked into jail and later released, and attorney information wasn’t available.

According to an arrest report, a witness said he heard loud noises and saw Meyers pushing over scooters and motorcycles parked along the roadway in the 400 block of William Street.

The witness said he saw Meyers getting on several motorcycles and when he could not turn them on, he became upset and pushed them over, the report said.

The officer found two black Harley Davidson motorcycles on the ground, both with damage on the right side handlebars, and one with scratches on the saddlebag, the report said.

When the officer spoke with Meyers he wasn’t making sense and appeared to be intoxicated, the report said. Meyers said he was just trying to go home, which he said was in Clearwater, the report said.

“Meyers was so intoxicated that he did not even recall coming down to Key West for spring break vacation,” the officer wrote in the report.

When asked about knocking over the motorcycles, Meyers said people don’t know how to ride their bikes and the officer had to explain to him that he didn’t knock over bicycles but had pushed over Harleys, the report said.

According to UF’s student newspaper, The Alligator, Meyers is a food and resource economics senior and is also a member of UF’s chapter of Alpha Tau Omega. He was elected to be the next student body president on Feb. 22, and his executive ticket ran under the tagline, “Character that counts,” the paper reported.

CHRIS SALAMONE

CRUISE SHIP COMES FRIGHTENINGLY CLOSE TO COASTAL FLORIDA HOME

Two Florida homeowners had a harrowingly close call with a Royal Caribbean cruise ship that came within 100 feet of their coastal home.

Video obtained by ABC News shows the Celebrity Equinox cruise liner approaching the coast and immediately throwing its thrusters into full reverse.

“Too close! Get out!” the homeowners can be heard yelling at the ship, which eventually successfully backs away from the coast.

According to Port Everglades Pilots and Florida Harbor Pilots Association spokesperson Sarah Bascom, strong wind and currents brought the ship “closer than usual to the side of the channel.”

“The local Port Everglades harbor pilot maintained navigational control of the vessel throughout this maneuver, skillfully keeping it within the channel, then proceeded to safely guide the vessel out to sea,” Bascom added.

Both Bascom and Royal Caribbean, the parent company of Celebrity Cruises, confirmed that the vessel did not run aground.

“As Equinox departed on Friday, March 3, she was in her assigned channel at all times under the guidance of specialized local port pilots,” the cruise line added.

The Coast Guard said it will not investigate the incident further because the vessel did not become grounded and there were no casualties.

 CHRIS SALAMONE

Youth pastor arrested in 1994 dismemberment of Florida teen

A youth pastor in Florida was arrested Tuesday in connection with the murder and dismembering of a 16-year-old boy in 1994, as FBI investigators reportedly scoured through two properties he owned.

Ronnie Leon Hyde, 60, was held without bond on murder charges at the Duval County jail. Crews used a backhoe to dig for evidence at his Jacksonville Beach home, Fox 30 reported.

AFTER EXPLOSIVE CASEY ANTHONY INTERVIEW, HER FATHER’S ‘HEART HURTS’

In June of 1994, investigators found a man’s torso — without a head, hands or legs — behind a Lake City gas station. It wasn’t until 2015 that DNA tests identified the victim as 16-year-old Fred Laster.

Laster’s family had reported him missing in 1994. His sister told police her brother was last seen with Hyde — a youth pastor and family friend.

The sister also said she and a sibling had stayed the night at Hyde’s home the previous year, WJXT reported.

The investigators laid out boxes of possible evidence on blue tarps in the street outside, Fox 30 added.

Hyde is also a mental health counselor, WJXT added. It’s unclear if he has an attorney.

CHRIS SALAMONE