Tall tower plan prompts dueling petitions, snipes from builders

Related Cos.’ proposed 25-story tower on the waterfront in West Palm Beach

Sensing blood in the water, New York developer Charles Cohen has sent West Palm Beach city officials another letter urging them to act quickly on his proposal to build an office tower on the city-owned “tent site” land.

The move comes as city officials held two meetings this month, where impassioned city residents voiced opposition to The Related Cos.’s plan to build a 25-story office tower along the city’s waterfront.

The One Flagler tower would be on Flagler Drive, next to the First Church of Christ, Scientist. The land now is zoned for only five stories.

Related’s bid to build One Flagler has mobilized some city residents who don’t like the plan. They say the tower is too tall, will worsen traffic, will block some of their views and will forever ruin the city’s waterfront.

They’ve circulated a petition and now claim nearly 1,000 names on it from nine condos, including the powerful One Watermark condo. They’ve flooded city officials with emails, formed teams and organized a Facebook page, dubbed Preserve West Palm Beach Citizens Coalition. Now they’re working on slogans.

Their effort has become so aggressive that Related has started pushing its own petition, this one with the names of tower supporters collected during neighborhood meetings. The petition has about 700 names.

Related’s petition drive made a public showing this past weekend at CityPlace, which Related built.

At the shopping and dining center, bewildered Easter tourists encountered a table in front of retailer Anthropologie, seeking petition signers.

The table was meant to provide people with tower information and drum up support, said Rick Asnani, a principal with Cornerstone Solutions, the group hired by Related for community outreach.

In meetings with neighborhood groups, “once we explain what we’re trying to do the opposition melts away and we find people are neutral or gravitate to it,” Asnani said. “It’s amazing how quickly people are supporting this project.”

Unfortunately for Related, a lot of tourists were hanging around CityPlace this past holiday weekend, so Cornerstone officials couldn’t reach as many residents as they hoped.

Nonetheless, “it was a good experiment. We were happy to bring awareness,” Asnani said.

Related officials say there is demand for a new Class A office building that will bring more jobs to the city. Money from the sale of the land will preserve the 1928 Christian Science church, they add.

But residents in nearby condos aren’t buying it. Their growing opposition has prompted Cohen and another billionaire real estate developer, Jeff Greene, to openly criticize Related’s efforts to try to rezone the low-rise waterfront site.

This is especially the case since business and city leaders have been crying for some time about the need for new, Class A office space downtown.

“The site in play and the development planned does not comply with current zoning and has received community opposition that will delay any forward movement,” Cohen said of the Related site in his letter to city officials, including Mayor Jeri Muoio.

In a statement to this reporter, Cohen said the tent site “provokes much less consternation than any site that would compete with it.”

The letter comes one month after Cohen, the Oscar-winning owner of the Carefree Theater property, sent a letter to city officials notifying them of his interest in building a 300,000-400,000-square foot office building on the tent site. That land is at Okeechobee Boulevard and South Dixie Highway.

Meanwhile, Greene poked holes at Related’s efforts to create the Okeechobee Business District to justify One Flagler. A previous effort to create a waterfront historic district that would have allowed this tower failed.

“What’s next? The One Block From The Water District?” Greene asked. “We should just call it what it is: Spot zoning. And everybody knows it.”

Greene said the city’s citizen referendums are the reason the land is zoned for only five stories. If that cap is to change, “the city can have another referendum,” he said.

Greene is planning to build a 30-story, twin-tower complex featuring office space at 550 Quadrille Blvd. He said he plans to start building soon.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Trump, China and Twitter: 9 tweets that likely irked PRC leaders

President Donald Trump hosts his Chinese counterpart at Mar-a-Lago next week. It’s the second global — and Asian — leader the president brings to the Southern White House.

But this meeting may not be as amicable as the golf diplomacy with Japan’s prime minister, Shinzo Abe. In fact, People’s Republic President Xi Jinping will not stay at Mr. Trump’s Palm Beach club but instead will spend the night in Manalapan.

President Donald Trump arrives at Palm Beach International Airport on Air Force One Friday, February 10, 2016 accompanied by First Lady Melania Trump, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe Abe, and the Prime Minister’s wife Akie Abe. Damon Higgins / The Palm Beach Post

Why? Well, Twitter may have something to do with it.

RELATED: Will Palm Beach County benefit when Trump brings  a global leader?

On the campaign trail, Candidate Trump frequently blasted the trade deficit with China, saying the People’s Republic was “ripping off” Americans via unfair trade and monetary practices. Those complaints worked their way into Mr. Trump’s Twitter missives.

Since his election as president on Nov. 8, Mr. Trump has not taken China to task on Twitter very often. He’s just fired off nine times.

Full Donald Trump coverage: Galleries, news, video

But they’ve stung — in particular his defense of accepting a congratulatory call from the leader of China’s rival, Taiwan. Mr. Trump has also sharply criticized the PRC for inaction in dealing with provocative moves by North Korea.

In early January, China’s state-run news agency, Xinhua, lambasted President Trump’s “Twitter diplomacy” likening it to a “child’s game.”

RELATED: Night at Mar-a-Lago: Inside charity event with Trump, Sessions nearby

Here are Mr. Trump’s China tweets since his Nov. 8 election.

Delray Beach legal impresario joins forces with Boca Raton law firm

Michael Weiner

Delray Beach legal eagle Michael Weiner is joining forces with a Boca Raton law firm renowned for its prowess in homeowners and condominium law.

Sachs, Sax & Caplan will be the new home for the longtime zoning, land use and administrative law attorney.

Weiner, 68, is a ubiquitous figure at municipal hearings on behalf of real estate developers. Even his website’s name is all about his business: zonelaw.com.

And although he’s best known for his work representing Delray Beach real estate developers, Weiner’s practice extends from Boca Raton to Lake Worth.

But starting April 1, Weiner will become of counsel to Sachs, Sax.

Weiner, who has had his own law firm for more than 30 years, said he decided to join Sachs, Sax because he could not figure out a way to clone himself.

“I can only be in so many places at once,” Weiner said. And cities love to hold meetings on Tuesday nights at the same time, he added.

On a more serious note, Weiner said that Sachs, Sax’s land-use department complimented his own practice.

In addition, he said the heft of a full-service law firm with a wide geographic reach will help him better serve clients, particularly on topics such as climate change and transportation.

For its part, Sachs, Sax said Weiner broadens its expertise.

“The firm’s practice will be further diversified with Weiner’s extensive background in land use and zoning litigation, private property rights, historic property redevelopment, property tax challenges, and code enforcement defense and appeals,” the firm said in a statement.

“We are confident this milestone will benefit our existing clients while opening the firm up to new growth opportunities,” said Peter S. Sachs, a founding partner of Sachs Sax Caplan. “Our firm will undoubtedly be stronger and better positioned for the future with him on board.”

Sachs, Sax handles matters from Fort Lauderdale to Jupiter. With Weiner on board, the firm now will be able to handle not only matters throughout Palm Beach and Broward counties, but also from suburbs in the west to cities along the coast, east of Interstate 95.

Helping make the move more palatable is the fact that Weiner’s Delray Beach offices, at10 S.E. 1st Ave., soon could be transformed into a Delray Beach location of Louie Bossi. That’s the sizzling new Italian concept by West Palm Beach’s Big Time Restaurant Group.

In addition to community association and real estate law, Sachs Sax Caplan handles commercial litigation and appeals, estate planning and marital and family law. The firm’s main office is in Boca Raton, with another office located in Tallahassee.

 

 

Pulte plans 164 townhomes in Palm Springs

Rendering of Preston Square in Palm Springs.
Rendering of Preston Square in Palm Springs.

After paying $5.1 million for 19 acres in Palm Springs, PulteGroup said Tuesday it will build 164 townhouses on the property. Prices start in the mid-$200s.

The 1,600-square-foot units include three bedrooms and garages. The project, known as Preston Square, is located at 2406 S. Congress Ave. between Forest Hill Boulevard and 10th Avenue North.

Florida would be relatively unscathed by trade war with Mexico, study finds

Donald Trump on Super Tuesday. (Allen Eyestone/The Palm Beach Post)
Donald Trump on Super Tuesday. (Allen Eyestone/The Palm Beach Post)

Amid President Donald Trump’s vows to build a border wall and tear down NAFTA, many are bracing for a trade war with Mexico.

How would Florida’s economy fare in that scenario? Comparatively well, according to an analysis by WalletHub. Its state-by-state ranking puts Florida at 36th among regional effects of trade disruptions, just behind Hawaii and just ahead of North Dakota.

Intriguingly, three states that helped sweep Trump into the White House stand to lose the most: Texas, Arizona and Michigan could see the biggest consequences from a shift in trade policy, WalletHub says.

Here’s how WalletHub ranks the states:

Carefree Theatre’s Cohen expresses support for banned Iranian director

Charles Cohen, chairman of Cohen Media, which is the co-distributor of The Salesman. The film's Iranian director is barred from entering the U.S. under Trump's executive order
Charles Cohen, chairman of Cohen Media Group. Photo by Damon Higgins.

Charles Cohen, the owner of West Palm Beach’s Carefree Theatre site, is the co-distributor of The Salesman, the foreign film whose director now is barred from entering the United States.

On Monday afternoon, Cohen Media Group tweeted a message of support for Asghar Farhadi,  the Iranian director of The Salesman, which was nominated for an Academy Award in the category of Best Foreign Language Film. The film opened Friday.

On that same day, President Donald Trump issued an executive order that bans citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the U.S. for 90 days, Farhadi is banned from traveling to the United States for the Feb. 26 award ceremony in Los Angeles.

On Sunday, Farhadi said he wouldn’t attend the ceremony even if he were granted an exception.

In a statement, Farhadi condemned the executive order, and then said the following: “To humiliate one nation with the pretext of guarding the security of another is not a new phenomenon in history and has always laid the groundwork for the creation of future divide and enmity.”

Cohen Media Group co-distributed the film with Amazon Studios in a 50-50 partnership.

On Monday afternoon, Cohen Media tweeted this message: “Asghar Farhadi, @CohenMediaGroup understands and supports your decision not to attend the Oscars.”

In a December interview, Cohen called the film “fabulous….it’s a fascinating film. Really wonderful. I’m keeping my fingers crossed” for an Oscar nomination.

Cohen Media has distributed several award-winning foreign language films, including two Oscar nominees: 2014’s French-Mauritanian Timbuktu and 2015’s Turkish drama, Mustang.

Cohen has a condominium in Palm Beach as well as homes in New York, Los Angeles and Connecticut.

He runs two businesses: New York-based Cohen Brothers Realty Corp., which owns and manages more than 12 million square feet of U.S. office space; and Cohen Media Group, which produces films and also owns an array of American classics, British cinema, foreign classics and a range of avant-garde films.

Cohen wants to rebuild the Carefree Theatre on Dixie Highway in West Palm Beach and turn the property into a complex featuring six auditoriums, totaling 750 seats for classic, art house and foreign films. About 97 apartments and space for restaurants and stores also are part of the plan.

If you’re curious about The Saleman, check out the trailer. Or broaden your cultural horizons and consider other top Iranian films.

 

Which real estate executive just got promoted?

Mark Pateman, Cushman & Wakefield managing principal for Palm Beach County
Mark Pateman, Cushman & Wakefield managing principal for Palm Beach County

The New Year is bringing new changes to the commercial real estate scene.

Cushman & Wakefield, the international brokerage firm, has named Mark Pateman to lead its Palm Beach County office.

Pateman, with the firm since 2006, has been a broker specializing in office leasing and investment sales.

His promotion to the newly-created position of Palm Beach County managing principal is part of a move by the company to decentralize leadership. Larry Ritchey, managing principal and Florida Market Leader, previously had run all counties.

But Pateman said this move will put the leadership “closer to the client.” Pateman will supervise about 25 brokers in the firm’s West Palm Beach and Boca Raton offices.

At Cushman, Pateman has worked on deals involving West Palm Beach’s most prominent office buildings, including Phillips Point, Esperante and Flagler Center. He also was involved in transactions involving One Boca Place in Boca Raton and 3801 PGA Blvd. in Palm Beach Gardens.

Living paycheck to paycheck? Here are some strategies to perk up your paltry savings

(Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

A recent study by Bankrate.com shows just how tenuous most Americans’ finances are: More than half of respondents to Bankrate’s survey can’t pay for a $500 car repair or $1,000 medical bill without going into debt.

Financial planners long have advised keeping an emergency fund with three to six months living expenses. It’s a cushion that means when you’re hit with an unexpected expense, you don’t need to borrow from your credit card company at 20 percent interest.

Bankrate’s Jill Cornfield offers some tips for how to build an emergency fund:

  • Start small. If your bank account has only a few bucks in it, stashing $15,000 can seem impossible. Start with a small goal, such as $100 or $500. “Just start, and see how great it feels,” Cornfield says. “Once you get to $500, you can get to $1,000.”
  • Bank your raise. Wages finally are perking up. The average paycheck rose 2.9 percent in the past year, according to the U.S. Labor Department, and the beginning of the year is when raises traditionally take effect. Instead of blowing the extra money, put it in your emergency account. “People do tend to be prone to lifestyle creep, where they spend more as soon as they get a raise,” Cornfield says. “Pretend you didn’t get the raise, and just save more.”
  • Sell some stuff. Craigslist and eBay let you sell collectibles, electronics, furniture and sports equipment. Bookscouter.com lets you find buyers of used books.
  • Find a side hustle. Drive for Uber, or take babysitting jobs, or find a part-time job or freelance work — anything it takes to build up an emergency fund.

Medical offices west of Boynton Beach get new owner

10151-enterprise

The 50,000-square-foot Boynton Beach Medical Center has a new owner. National landlord Woodside Health is the new owner, according to brokers Bob Mion and John DePersio of Coldwell Banker Commercial NRT.

The deed isn’t available, and the brokers declined to disclose the price. The property at 10151 Enterprise Center Blvd. in suburban Boynton Beach last sold in 2007 for $10 million.

UPDATE: The new owner paid $14.8 million and took a mortgage for $11.5 million from Barclays Bank, according to property records made public Friday.

Medical careers dominate list of best-paying jobs

moneypicture

Want to make a solid six-figure income? Head to medical school.

Doctors of various types swept the top 10 in U.S. News & World Report’s list of highest-paying jobs, released Wednesday.

Anesthesiologists top the list, with an average salary of $258,100, followed by surgeons at $247,520. The highest-paying non-medical career, according to the list, is petroleum engineer. Average salary is just under $150,000.