New bookstore coming to Clematis Street?

Lily Connor, 8, looks over a copy of Dr. Seuss' "What Pet Should I Get?" on July 28 at the Books and Books in in Coral Gables. (Getty Images)
Lily Connor, 8, looks over a copy of Dr. Seuss’ “What Pet Should I Get?” on July 28 at the Books and Books in in Coral Gables. (Getty Images)

Book lovers will want to keep an eye on this.

In a recent interview with The Palm Beach Post, West Palm Beach’s Downtown Development Authority Executive Director Raphael Clemente said the DDA is trying to lure Books & Books to the 200 block of Clematis Street.

The independent bookstore in Miami-Dade County is a popular spot to browse and linger over the written word. Locations are in Coral Gables, Miami Beach and Bal Harbour Shops.

“We’ve met with them and we’d love to have them in West Palm Beach,” Clemente said.

Clemente said the owner is weighing the idea, which first was broached about three months ago, but no decision has yet been reached.

Alexandra Clough writes about the economy, real estate and the law.

Office building on PGA Boulevard sells for less than boomtime price

3250pga

The office building at 3250 PGA Blvd. in Palm Beach Gardens sold last week for $23 million, a slight discount from its boomtime price, according to a deed made public Tuesday.

Stiles Corp. of Fort Lauderdale is the buyer of the 97,000-square-foot building. TA Realty of Boston is the seller; it paid $25 million in 2006.

The building is just south of Gardens Mall.

Florida leads nation in deeply underwater borrowers

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Florida’s property values have come back strong in recent years, but a handful of borrowers still owe far more than their homes are worth, the federal government says.

Some 163 Florida homeowners refinanced during the third quarter with loan-to-value ratios of 125 percent or more, the Federal Housing Finance Agency said Tuesday in its latest report on the Home Affordable Refinance Program, or HARP.

Florida led the nation in HARP refis to borrowers under water by 25 percent or more — for instance, a borrower who owes $250,000 on a house worth only $200,000. The rest of the country mustered only 572 deeply underwater refis.

Florida also led the nation in HARP refis to borrowers who were under water by 5 percent to 25 percent. There were 200 refis that fell into that category in July, August and September.

Some 3.4 million homeowners have refinanced through HARP since 2009, but the program is winding down as home values rebound. The refis are available to borrowers who took loans through Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac before May 31, 2009, and owe at least 80 percent of their home’s value.

HARP continues through 2016. The Federal Housing Finance Agency says 58,000 Floridians remain eligible for a refi.

Publix shopping spree continues in Wellington

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Publix has stepped up the pace of its real estate acquisitions in Palm Beach County, dropping $52.8 million on a shopping center in Wellington.

The state’s dominant grocer last week bought the Courtyard Shops on Wellington Trace, according to a deed made public this week. Publix also paid $18.7 million for a shopping center in Jupiter.

Opting to own rather than rent its space, Publix has been snapping up properties such as this one in West Palm Beach.

In 2006, Publix Supermarkets owned less than 11 percent of its stores. By the end of 2014, Florida’s dominant grocer owned nearly 23 percent of its locations, according to a Palm Beach Post analysis of Publix’s annual reports.

 

Singer Island condo tower breaks ground with few buyers so far

Rendering of Vista Blue Singer Island
Rendering of Vista Blue Singer Island

The first post-crash condo tower on Singer Island started construction last month. In one twist, the developer decided to break ground on Vista Blue Singer Island in Riviera Beach after taking reservations on only four of the tower’s 58 units.

That’s possible because the developer, Third Palm Capital of Simpsonville, South Carolina, is financing the project internally rather than taking a construction loan, said Kevin Spina, a Keyes Co. Realtors agent who’s marketing the property. Banks traditionally require developers to sell half the units before starting construction.

“We are doing things a little bit differently,” Spina said.

Prices start at $1.6 million for units facing west and top out at $7 million for a penthouse on the ocean side of the building.

The project is scheduled for completion in 2017. Spina called the condo the first new construction on Riviera Beach’s oceanfront since 2007.

See how much Publix paid for its store in Jupiter

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The Publix-anchored center at 2525 Military Trail in Jupiter just sold for $18.7 million, a 43 percent jump from its last sale price in 2011.

The buyer? Publix itself. The Lakeland-based grocer closed on the purchase last week, according to a deed made public Monday.

Opting to own rather than rent its space, Publix has been snapping up properties such as this one in West Palm Beach.

In 2006, Publix Supermarkets owned less than 11 percent of its stores. By the end of 2014, Florida’s dominant grocer owned nearly 23 percent of its locations, according to a Palm Beach Post analysis of Publix’s annual reports.

Palm Beach County home sales fall, prices hold steady

(Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Palm Beach County home sales slowed to their lowest level since February, and prices held steady, the Realtor Association of the Palm Beaches said Monday.

Realtors say 1,481 houses changed hands in October, down 0.4 percent from a year ago. The median price was $285,000, up 3.6 percent from a year ago but unchanged from the previous month.

“The Florida real estate market is catching its breath after a frantic summer and early fall,” said Florida Realtors Chief Economist John Tuccillo. “One month’s numbers do not make a trend, but the October numbers are signaling a return toward a more balanced market.”

In a sign that the market is cooling, the typical home needed 37 days to sell, up from 35 days in September.

Palm Beach County’s condo and townhouse market fared better. Realtors recorded 1,209 sales last month, up 2.9 percent from a year ago. The median price was $145,000, up 11.5 percent from October 2014.

Biotech CEO to get $750,000 bonus in DuPont deal

Dyadic International founder Mark Emalfarb. (Bill Ingram/The Palm Beach Post)
Dyadic International founder Mark Emalfarb. (Bill Ingram/The Palm Beach Post)

Mark Emalfarb, the founder of Jupiter-based Dyadic International, will get a $750,000 “discretionary cash award” if the company’s $75 million sale to industrial giant DuPont closes as scheduled.

Emalfarb’s legwork in finding a suitor “spared the company from having to pay a finder’s fee to an investment bank,” Dyadic said in a proxy statement. Emalfarb, the company’s founder, collects a salary of $425,000 a year.

The proxy gives new details about Dyadic’s financial struggles. From May 2014 to February 2015, the company approached dozens of investors in an effort to raise capital. Finding no takers, Dyadic made “a significant reduction in workforce” earlier this year.

Dyadic also said falling oil prices threaten its biofuel business. Dyadic’s enzymes can transform biowaste such as corn cobs, grass clippings and orange peels into so-called cellulosic ethanol. Through a fermentation Emalfarb likens to brewing beer, the enzymes break down plant waste and yield a brown, sugary syrup that can be turned into fuel.

But with oil at rock-bottom prices, the incentive to invest in biofuels has waned.

Realtor pledges 10% of commission to French relief effort

Listing at Lands End Road.
Listing at Lands End Road.

A Realtor marketing a house on Hypoluxo Island says she’ll donate 10 percent of her commission to relief efforts for victims of the French terror attacks.

Maxie Kaan-Lilly of Mizner Grande Realty is listing the four-bedroom house at 1386 Lands End Road in Lantana for $1.25 million. Zillow says it’s worth $1.1 million.

“I felt the need to do something,” Kaan-Lilly said. “In light of the tragedy in Paris, it just really touched me.”

Kaan-Lilly said she’s uncertain how much she might earn from the sale. The average commission is about 2.5 percent for each side of the transaction, so if Kaan-Lilly sells the house for $1 million to a buyer represented by another agent, she’d make $25,000.

Palm Beach’s Bankers Row one of nation’s Top 10 priciest office markets

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Royal Palm Way in Palm Beach ranks No. 9 among the nation’s 10 priciest office markets, according to Jones Lang LaSalle.

The average full-service rent on the strip known as Bankers Row is $58.07 per square foot.

Those are lofty levels by South Florida standards, but rents have barely budged on Royal Palm Way in recent years. In 2011, when Bankers Row was the nation’s seventh-priciest address, the average was $57.99 a foot.

Sand Hill Road in Menlo Park, California, tops the list at $141.60 a square foot. Other Florida streets on the list are Las Olas Boulevard in Fort Lauderdale at No. 13 and Brickell Avenue in Miami at No. 19.