A dispute between neighbors who own oceanfront palaces in Palm Beach has spilled into court again.
In the latest round, former oil trader Lamia Jacobs says former Goldman Sachs partner John Thornton has engaged in a “campaign of harassment and bullying” that includes barking dogs and calls to police and code enforcement.
Jacobs’ suit was filed this month in Palm Beach County court. The plaintiff, 100 Emerald Beach Way LC, details a list of laments against defendants John and Margaret Thornton.
“Even while attacking 100 Emerald with a series of invented claims and demands, the Thorntons have allowed dogs to run wild on their property, barking at great volume and length,” Jacobs’ suit says.
“In one particular instance,” the suit continues, “plaintiff’s landscaper had a bucket truck on Emerald Beach Way for the purpose of trimming plaintiff’s trees. Rather than raise any concerns directly with plaintiff’s staff, the Thorntons called police even though the landscapers were on the street only for the amount of time necessary to properly trim the trees which could only be reached from the street and were not interfering in any way with defendants’ use of the easement.”
The backstory includes a 2014 suit filed by the Thorntons against Jacobs. In that suit, the Thorntons demanded that Jacobs tear down a concrete seawall that blocked their beach access. That suit also said Emerald Beach Way is “a private road on private property” and that parking isn’t allowed there.
The dispute often devolves into the Thorntons’ employees yelling at Jacobs’ staff, the suit says.
The Shiny Sheet reports that Jacobs is appealing a recent decision from the town’s Architectural Commission to approve two new tennis courts on the Thorntons’ six-acre property. An attorney for Jacobs said the courts are too close to her client’s home and will create noise and parking problems. The Town Council will hear the case next month.
A West Palm Beach office building has traded hands, and its new owners vow to pour money into making the property more attractive to tenants.
One Clearlake Centre just sold to Velocis, a private equity real estate manager, in partnerhip with CREC, a Miami-based real estate company.
The 18-story, 218,461-square-foot tower is at 250 S. Australian Ave., just east of Interstate 95. A sales price could not immediately be obtained.
At a time when business and city leaders say they need more high-quality downtown office space to lure employers, One Clearlake Centre provides an opportunity to provide more choices, said Andrew Remick, CREC vice president.
Millions of dollars in improvements will be made to the building, including upgrades to the lobby, corridors, bathrooms plus a new conference center. The upgrades should be completed within the next 12 to 18 months.
“We’re trying to meet the market demand for Class A space, but at more competitive leasing rates,” Remick said.
There’s plenty of vacant space to work with at Clearlake. The property is only 47 percent occupied, meaning about 100,000 square feet is available for lease. This includes entire floors.
Some of that vacancy is being created by Shoes for Crews, which has 37,657 square feet of space in the building on three floors but is moving to Boca Raton early next year.
CREC plans to break up some of the Clearlake’s floors into small, ready-to-occupy offices. This will allow it to meet demand from what Remick says is the main business tenant in West Palm Beach: Small users needing between 2,500 to 5,000 square feet of space.
Gross rents, which include rent plus all maintenance expenses, now are at about $34, far less than buildings along the Intracoastal Waterway. The rents are expected to inch up after the redo, but still will be far less than other office towers, Remick said.
One Clearlake offers water views, both of Clear Lake to the east and also, at higher levels, of the Intracoastal to the east.
Even better, Remick said, is that the property is away from the traffic crowding downtown streets.
From I-95, it’s a quick turn onto Australian Avenue to arrive at the office tower.
Among the top 10 percent of single-family sales in Palm Beach, the median price was $15.8 million in the second quarter of 2017, up 56.5 percent from a year earlier, according to a report released Thursday by brokerage Douglas Elliman Real Estate.
The average price reached $18.6 million, up 39.5 percent from mid-2016.
The sharp rise would seem to indicate that last year’s downturn was temporary. Among the upper 10 percent of deals, Palm Beach prices plunged 50 percent from the fourth quarter of 2015 to the fourth quarter of 2016, according to Douglas Elliman.
Elsewhere in Palm Beach County, results were mixed. In Jupiter, average and median prices in the luxury market jumped by more than 25 percent. But in Delray Beach, the average luxury price fell 18.8 percent over the year, while the median price was off 9.5 percent.
However, special magistrates twice have ruled against Trump’s appeals of his property tax bill to the Value Adjustment Board. And experts in golf course appraisals say valuing the properties can be a tricky task.
Jupiter Golf Club LLC, owner of the Trump National Golf Club in Jupiter, this month sued the Palm Beach County Property Appraiser to contest the course’s taxable value of $18.4 million.
That estimate means the property appraiser values the course’s 131 acres of land zoned for golf at $140,802 per acre. Only the Palm Beach Country Club — located just a chip shot from the ocean — is worth more, at $149,956 per acre.
By that calculation, Trump National Golf Club in Jupiter is worth more per acre than every other course in the county, including St. Andrews Country Club in Boca Raton ($119,450 per acre) and the Breakers’ course in Palm Beach ($113,055 per acre).
While Palm Beach County houses near the ocean are valued at a premium, experts on valuing golf courses say a prime location isn’t always the main driver of value.
“Forget about price per acre. Forget about closer to the ocean,” said Larry Hirsch, an appraiser in Pennsylvania and author of Golf Property Analysis and Valuation: A Modern Approach. “The way you evaluate a property like that is based on its economics, and how much money it makes.”
Golden Bear Plaza, the 245-673-square-foot office complex in Palm Beach Gardens, has changed hands for $62.3 million, brokerage CBRE Group said Monday.
The property at 11750 U.S. Highway 1 fetched $254 a square foot.
The new owner is Alliance Partners HSP, a unit of Shidler Group of Pennsylvania, CBRE said. Neil Merin of NAI Merin Hunter Codman and CBRE’s Christian Lee and José Antonio Lobón represented the seller, Equus Capital Partners, Ltd.
The office complex sold in 1997 for $51.5 million and in 2003 for $32.25 million, according to property records. The complex has nearly 42,000 square feet of empty space, CBRE said.
West Palm Beach boosters long have complained about a lack of office space, a reality that leads many tenants to set up headquarters in Boca Raton instead. That’s what happened with Shoes For Crews, the footwear maker that’s moving from West Palm to Boca.
Shoes For Crews, which makes no-slip shoes for workers at restaurants and other potentially treacherous workplaces, has been headquartered at One Clearlake Centre in West Palm Beach, where it occupies 37,657 square feet.
The company plans to move its 200-person office south in March 2018.
Shoes for Crews is spread over three floors at One Clearlake, but the company will occupy space in one floor at its new Boca location. Boca Raton Innovation Campus is the latest name of the 1.7-million-square-foot campus where IBM developed the first personal computer in the 1970s.
Meanwhile, developers eyeing downtown West Palm Beach face a quandary: Is the office market shallow because tenants lack interest in the city, or because they see a lack of supply? Billionaire Jeff Greene has stalled his plan for Class A office space on Quadrille Boulevard, and Related Group is seeking approval for office space along Flagler Drive.
In 2014, Greene pointed to a then-fresh decision by CancerTreatmentCenters of America to move its headquarters from Illinois to Boca Raton. The company looked at space in West Palm Beach but couldn’t find large blocks of available offices.
“The conventional wisdom is that the demand isn’t there,” Greene said in an interview. “I think the supply isn’t there.”