Downtown Boca happening: Success meeting marketing efforts
Efforts to get more people downtown are working, according to the marketing firm hired to promote the area.
The monthly “Friday Night Live!” has drawn as many as 1,500 people to its concerts and weekly “Saturdays@Sanborn” have brought as many as 60 to yoga at Mizner Park, said Ruby Childers, the city’s downtown manager.
The second annual “Meet me on the Promenade” festival planned for Oct. 26 and 27 should break attendance records for any downtown event, said Bonnie Kaye, president of Kaye Communications Inc.
She presented her report on Monday to the City Council meeting as the Community Redevelopment Agency.
Last year’s “Meet me,” held shortly after the completion of a $6.8 million improvement to Palmetto Park Road, drew upward of 14,000 to the area. That led the CRA to ask for regular, organized attractions to the vital shopping area.
The weekly Saturdays@Sanborn started in February and Friday Night Live! started in March.
“We’re trying to mix it up and get different groups of people downtown,” Childers said.
So far, the biggest draw has been the Tito Puente Jr. concert in April. Food trucks have also pulled in for dining. Another evening featured Elvis impersonator Chris MacDonald.
Future events include a hockey rink, a visit from the National Hockey League Panthers’ mascot and night of sing-along patriotic favorites with a local soloist with a picnic of all-American favorites.
Kaye told city leaders this year’s “Meet me” event could bring in more than 20,000, thanks to a combination of Halloween activities and events built around the annual American Cancer Society Making Strides for Breast Cancer walk.
A rock ‘n roll revue, dining specials and the city’s first-ever Halloween Street Parade could prove a huge draw, Kaye said.
“We’re really building up a Halloween happening,” Kaye said, explaining that families would be attracted to the store-to-store trick-or-treating that’s been planned.
The yearlong $6.8 million improvement from Northeast First Avenue to Northeast Fifth Avenue was completed in August. It added landscaping and decorative lightening, widened sidewalks to encourage strollers and installed pavers and raised intersections to slow traffic.
A stretch of Northeast First Avenue between Mizner Park and Sanborn Square was made into a pedestrian walkway as well.
The city has paid Kaye Communications $94,275 so far this fiscal year for community relations, events and website content management.
“We really have an amazing community,” said Constance Scott, a city councilwoman and chairwoman of the CRA, nodding toward Kaye. “You’ve really done an outstanding job.”
Childers said the events have translated into more business and occupancy in the downtown area. Officials at Mizner Park said its occupancy rate, consistently at more than 90 percent, has gone up in recent months.
“I would imagine that the different activities that they’ve planned have certainly not been detrimental,” said Barbara Finn, marketing manager at Mizner Park. “We like to think that we all make it wonderful here and [downtown in general].”
Finn said the defunct Lord & Taylor demolition has begun and Sur La Table, an upscale cooking, dinnerware and bakeware shop, is going to start its renovation in the next 10 days.
“Our occupancy is wonderfully low and exciting things are happening here,” Finn said.
City officials had high praise for the current shape of downtown.
Mayor Susan Whelchel said her smart phone was lighting up with check-ins at Mizner Park Saturday night at a pub that opened this month.
“I had 15 friends who were at the Yard House,” Whelchel said.