Canopy hotel update: We’re starting construction soon after all

Rendering of Canopy Hotel planned for West Palm Beach

A Canopy Hotel set for West Palm Beach will start construction this fall and not in early 2018, despite what an executive for the hotel’s developer told the Palm Beach Post last week.

This is according to Carlos Rodriguez Jr, chief operating officer of Driftwood Acquisition and Development, an affiliate of Driftwood Hospitality of North Palm Beach.

In an interview Monday, Rodriguez said Driftwood has the $50 million necessary to build the Canopy hotel, a Hilton brand. Construction is slated to start in late September or early October on the 14-story, 150-room hotel.

The sexy, millennial-oriented Canopy is set to rise on the southeast corner of South Dixie Highway and Trinity Place.

In an interview last week, Driftwood executive Andrew Stevens said the hotel needed to raise more money from the EB5 foreign investor program in order to commence construction, which he said wouldn’t begin until the first quarter of 2018.

The hotel originally was slated to be completed by December, then it was supposed to start construction this summer.

But Rodriguez said delays in the project’s construction are due to technical and redesign changes, not financial ones. “We don’t have any issues with capital,” Rodriguez said.

Right now, the building permits have been going through the normal tweaking process by the city of West Palm Beach, Rodriguez said.  But just last week, the latest comments came back from staffers, which means Driftwood is even closer to its construction start, he added.

In addition, Rodriguez said the company is close to signing Verdex Construction of West Palm Beach as the project’s general contractor.

The hotel is slated to take 18 months to build, with completion expected by March 2019.

Driftwood is an experienced hotel operator and builder, with properties across the country. But unlike other Driftwood projects, this planned Canopy hotel has been anything but a day at the beach.

The deal first started back in 2014, when a Driftwood investor group first signed a 200-year lease with the property’s land owner, real estate baron Burt Handelsman.

When details of the plan were unveiled to the community, residents of the Two City Plaza condominium objected because they said the hotel would block their western views. The hotel would be less than 75 feet from the 21-story, 467-unit condominium at  at 701 S. Olive Ave.

Rodriguez said the hotel project went through a time-consuming redesign so that it would not need any variances. The project received site plan approval from the city late last year.

The only neighborhood issue outstanding is an October 2016 lawsuit filed by 17 condo owners at Two City Plaza. The group is suing the city of West Palm Beach and the property owner Handelsman’s Love 718 Dixie LLC.

The Palm Beach County Circuit Court lawsuit claims the city failed to follow its comprehensive plan when it approved the hotel. The lawsuit seeks to stop the hotel’s construction.

Rodriguez said Driftwood is confident the lawsuit has no merit. It has intervened in the case to join with Love 718 Dixie in asking a judge to dismiss the lawsuit.

When the hotel is completed, “everyone is going to be really happy. It’s going to be a great neighborhood hotel,” Rodriguez said.

 

Jeff Greene: Almost-new units at The Whitney will rent cheaper than other downtown apartments

 

Jeff Greene (Lannis Waters/Palm Beach Post)

Palm Beach billionaire Jeff Greene said he paid $24.75 million for 139 units at the Whitney condo in downtown West Palm Beach because they were a good value, “way below replacement costs.”

“The building is only 10 years old, and it was totally rebuilt three years ago because of the Chinese drywall,” Greene said by phone from Los Angeles, where he’s attending the Milken Institute Global Conference.

With the price he paid, Greene said he’ll be able to charge a lower rent than apartments now under construction in several new projects downtown. They include Broadstone City Center, a 315-unit complex; Kolter’s The Alexander, a 205-unit apartment building; and All Aboard Florida’s 275-unit apartment complex.

“You’ve got three giant new luxury residential buildings, and I’m going to be able to offer rent significantly below theirs,” Greene said.

Greene considers this the best part of the Whitney purchase: Some 20 penthouses never were finished.

Greene said they’re decorator-ready, which means there are no kitchen cabinets and no flooring. Greene said he’s going to finish the units and rent those out, too.

In one unusual move for the deep-pocketed investor, Greene borrowed $17 million to finance the deal.

Why a mortgage? “Because that’s how you’re supposed to buy real estate,” Greene said. “Rates are still low.”

Deal for 139 units in downtown West Palm Beach condo: See how much they fetched

In the latest of many headlines generated by the Whitney condo in downtown West Palm Beach, 139 units just sold for $24.75 million, according to a deed.

The seller was USO Norge Whitney of New York. The buyer was 410 Evernia Street Partners LLC of Miami. UPDATE: Palm Beach billionaire Jeff Greene is the buyer, according to a $17 million mortgage with Bank of America.

More coverage: Green says almost-new Whitney units will rent more cheaply than new apartments downtown

The 210-unit Whitney was built with toxic drywall from China, but a $30 million renovation completed last year left residents to proclaim that the building felt like new. The units owned by USO Norge had been operated as rentals.

USO Norge in early 2009 paid $24 million for the unsold units in the boomtime condo development. Just a few months later, it became clear why a smell of rotting eggs permeated  the units and why appliances mysteriously malfunctioned: The culprit was the high-sulfur Chinese drywall used during construction.

Greene has spent some $250 million on Palm Beach County properties since late 2009, although his purchases have slowed in recent years. He has financed his buys mostly by selling properties in California; the Evernia units are a rare instance of Greene taking on a mortgage.

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

 

 

Bristol condo in West Palm Beach lands $200 million construction loan

The Bristol condominium

Now that sales at The Bristol condo in West Palm Beach have topped $300 million, the project’s developer has closed on a $206 million construction loan.

Flagler Investors LLC took the hefty mortgage from BREDS III Loan Holdings Inc., according to public records.

The Bristol is the priciest condo in Palm Beach County history, and it’s proving that wealthy buyers are willing to pay astronomical prices for units on the poor side of the Intracoastal Waterway.

Units range from $1,500 to more than $2,500 per square foot. The typical unit The Bristol is 4,500 square feet and costs $10 million.

The property is just south of downtown at 1112 S. Flagler Drive.

 

 

Related’s Perez to Trump: I’m not interested in building your wall

Ivanka and Donald Trump at a January 2007 event for the proposed Trump Tower Palm Beach condo on North Flagler Drive in West Palm Beach.
Ivanka and Donald Trump at a January 2007 event for the proposed Trump Tower Palm Beach condo on North Flagler Drive in West Palm Beach. Photo by Allen Eyestone.

President Donald Trump, seeking to find a builder for his proposed border wall between the United States and Mexico, is turning to old real estate friends for help.

Full Donald Trump coverage: Galleries, news, video

Among them: The Related Group’s Jorge Perez, who once partnered with Trump on a proposed West Palm Beach condo dubbed Trump Tower Palm Beach.

In a recent Wall Street Journal story, Perez said he received an email  from Trump with this message: “Any interest in building a 2,000 mile wall—30’ high—between U.S.A. and Mexico? Call me.”

“I told him I thought the wall was immoral and it wouldn’t achieve the goals he wanted to achieve,” Perez told the Journal. “Plus, I have lots of business in Mexico—I’d be finished here.”

During the real estate boom ten years ago, Related partnered with Trump to try to develop a 23-story, 150-unit condominium at 4308 N. Flagler Drive.

Originally called Icon Palm Beach, Perez changed the name to Trump Tower Palm Beach because the Trump name would be a lure for international buyers. “The Trump brand is so strong, it expands your universe of buyers,” Perez said.

... A model of the Trump Tower Palm Beach in the sales center. Real estate mogul Donald Trump unveiled his new condo project in partnership with the Related Group.
A model of the Trump Tower Palm Beach in the sales center. In 2007, Trump unveiled the condo project in partnership with the Related Group. Photo by Allen Eyestone.

Ten years ago, Trump Tower Palm Beach held a glitzy event to show off a model of the proposed luxury condo.

Attendees included real estate brokers, prospective buyers, city bigwigs and the media.

RELATED: A peek inside Donald Trump’s historic Palm Beach palace

As guests dined on sushi, the Trumps held court.

Present at the glamfest were Trump, his wife, Melania, and The Donald’s daughter, Ivanka.

Ivanka and Trump sat for television interviews and chatted with print reporters about the Intracoastal Waterway project.

Despite the hype (and the sushi), the project’s timing wasn’t great: The recession’s cold winds already were starting to blow as the demand for condominiums slowly sank, then cratered.

By October 2007, Trump acknowledged to this reporter that the real estate market was looking iffy.  “The market in West Palm Beach is not exactly great-looking,” Trump said. “We won’t go forward unless we see a robust market.”

When pressed for details about Trump Tower Palm Beach sales, Trump was vague: ” “We’ve done very well with pre-sales. We’ve had substantial sales,” he said. “There’s no reason to be specific.”

But a Related executive gave some hints in June 2007. At that point, less than half the project’s 150 units had sold (prices ranged from $900,000 to $2.4 million). Developers were shooting for at least 60 percent, or about 90 units, before starting construction. But that didn’t happen and the condo wasn’t built.

Now it’s a decade later and there’s a new real estate boom.

And Related Group still is building condos on Flagler Drive, but a little farther south, at the Rybovich Marina.

The company also built a number of apartments and condominiums in West Palm Beach’s downtown, including CityPlace South Tower, The Slade, The Prado and the Tower Condominium at CityPlace. The Related Group’s most recent Palm Beach County project is an apartment complex in Delray Beach.

 

Exclusive: Sales top $300 million at Bristol condo in WPB

The Bristol condominium site in West Palm Beach, now under construction
The Bristol condominium site in West Palm Beach, now under construction. Photo by Greg Lovett.

The ultra-luxury The Bristol condominium in West Palm Beach has sold 60 percent of its units, which equals more than $300 million in sales for the most expensive condo ever built in Palm Beach County.

The Bristol condominium
The Bristol condominium

At this rate, developer Al Adelson expects the 25-story, 69-unit property to sell out by season’s end. “We thought it would take three years to sell out, and it looks like it’s going to take less than a half and a half. We’re extraordinarily happy with sales,” said Adelson, a partner with developer Flagler Investors LLC.

This time last year, The Bristol had logged about $125 million in sales.

The sales prices are astronomical, ranging from $1,500 to more than $2,500 per square foot. The average size of a unit at The Bristol is about 4,500 square feet and costs $10 million.

The property is just south of downtown, along the Intracoastal Waterway, at 1112 S. Flagler Drive.

There are six penthouses planned, but all have sold except for one. That last penthouse is priced at under $30 million, Adelson said.

Word of mouth seems to be helping with sales at the 69-unit project, which has about 41 units sold now.

During a December party, several buyers brought along friends. And The Bristol lodged three more sales.

Some buyers are discovering the building because their friends at private clubs such as the Everglades Club on Palm Beach, or Trump International Golf Club, bought units, Adelson said.

Multiple purchases also are taking place.

One buyer bought on a lower floor and then decided to buy a penthouse, Adelson said.

The Bristol condominium site in West Palm Beach, now under construction
The Bristol condominium site in West Palm Beach, now under construction. Photo by Greg Lovett.

Another buyer bought two units on a high floor, totaling $25 to $30 million for both units. One unit is a residence and the other unit next door is for family or investment purposes, Adelson added.

For these prices, buyers enjoy private elevators; concierge services; intense security; 11-foot ceilings or higher; infinity pool; yoga and massage center; and so on. 

Tons of marble have been ordered for the project, and Adelson is excited about the 11-foot, floor-to-ceiling glass doors to the balconies. Not only are the glass doors hurricane resistant, they are easy to slide, he said.

The project’s sales success is welcomed by developers who are building or thinking of building luxury condos in the area. They are encouraged that people are willing to spend millions of dollars on the west side of the Intracoastal Waterway, across from Palm Beach.

Indeed, many of The Bristol’s buyers either hail from the island of Palm Beach or from in and around the West Palm Beach area, Adelson said.

The Bristol started fast out of the sales gate. As far back as May 2015, the luxury condo sold 17 percent of its units before it even had a sales center or website up and running.

Last year, the project broke ground and opened up its sales center.

In December, workers began pouring cement for the elevators, after six months of underground work.

Now buyers and would-be buyers will start to see the project rise out of the ground.

A completion is set for late 2018, and Adelson will be one of the condo’s residents.

So he has an added incentive to make sure everything is perfect, otherwise he jokes he’ll be hearing about it from his neighbors.

But he’s confident all will be well:  “It goes to show you how much confidence we have in what we’re doing,” he said.

South Beach penthouse seller aims to set record for Florida condos

Apogee in Miami Beach
Apogee in Miami Beach

The owner of a three-story penthouse in Miami Beach is aiming for a new price record for Florida condos. The 8,300-square-foot unit — which has its own rooftop swimming pool — is on the market for $65 million, The Wall Street Journal reports.

The penthouse is at the Apogee condo tower at the southern end of South Beach. If it sells for full price, it would eclipse Miami Beach’s record of $60 million for a condo.

Palm Beach County might be Florida’s priciest mansion market, but our condo prices lag Miami’s. The priciest condo on Palm Beach’s books sold in September for $13.9 million.

Luxe Boca condo gets big money loan

327 Royal Palm, a luxury condo under construction in downtown Boca Raton
327 Royal Palm, a luxury condo under construction in downtown Boca Raton

Downtown Boca Raton’s newest luxury condo just landed a $19.7 million construction loan, putting 327 Royal Palm one step closer to completion.

The lender is Banesco USA, said condo developer Ignacio Diaz, of Group P6.

Even though Group P6 just wrapped up financing, construction already is underway on the nine-story condo, at 327 E. Royal Palm Road just west of the Intracoastal Waterway off of Palmetto Park Road.

Diaz said foundation work is nearing completion, including construction of a two-level underground garage.

Diaz expects construction of the building above ground to start in about six weeks, with completion set for late 2017.

So far the condo is about 50 percent sold. The project features 24 units, ranging in price from $1.6 million to $2.9 million.

Units average 3,200 square feet and can go up to three bedrooms. One buyer combined units to create a 7,000 square foot residence, a trend noted by developers of the Azure condo under construction now in Palm Beach Gardens.

Diaz expects this coming winter season to be a strong one for sales. The presidential election, which always creates some uncertainty, will be over.

And thus far, 327 Royal Palm is the only Boca Raton condo planned for downtown that’s actually under construction, Diaz said.

Diaz said buyers are more motivated when they “see a tower” and a building rising from the ground.

But Diaz isn’t writing off the summer. During what is typically a sluggish sales time, Diaz said the project recently snared two reservations, which Diaz hopes will be converted to contracts soon.