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.


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.

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.

Florida posts another mediocre finish in Bloomberg Innovation Index


In the past decade and a half, local and state governments in Florida have spent $1.5 billion to build a biotech industry. They dropped an additional $100 million to spur a digital animation industry.

Despite the massive investment aimed at creating a high-tech economy, Florida continues to post mediocre showings in national measures of tech prowess. In the latest example, Florida ranks 34th on Bloomberg’s 2016 U.S. State Innovation Index, which measures states on such factors as tech employment and patent filings.

Florida ranked especially low on Bloomberg’s measures of economic productivity per worker and the concentration of workers in science, technology and engineering.

Massachusetts and California top Bloomberg’s list. Florida rated closer to Mississippi, which was at the bottom.

In a separate study released in October, Florida fell to 41st in the Milken Institute’s State Technology and Science Index for 2016, down from 37th in 2014. And Florida ranks 41st in the Palm Beach Post’s latest state-by-state ranking of National Institutes of Health grants per capita for the 2016 fiscal year, which ended Sept. 30.

Massachusetts topped both of those lists.

Population growth is back: See where Florida ranks

The new Restoration Hardware "mansion" in West Palm Beach is under construction on March 21, 2016. (Kristina Webb / The Palm Beach Post)
(Kristina Webb / The Palm Beach Post)

For decades, population growth was a crucial part of Florida’s economy. The growth engine stopped during the Great Recession, but now people are moving here again.

Florida posted the nation’s fourth-fastest pace of population growth from mid-2015 to mid-2016, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Our 1.8 percent growth rate trailed just Utah, Nevada and Idaho. (Since the 2010 census, Florida’s growth rate ranks sixth.)

Texas had the largest change in raw numbers of people, adding 432,957 residents, followed by Florida’s gain of 367,525 people over the past year.

West Virginia and Illinois lost the most residents.

Nearly half of Florida moms are main breadwinner

(Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Fully 42 percent of American mothers were the sole or primary income earners in their families in 2015, the Center for American Progress reports, an all-time high.

By state, the share ranges from a low of 26.3 percent in Utah to a high of 53.5 percent in Mississippi. Florida ranks fifth-highest with a share of 46.8 percent.

The share of women as primary breadwinners has steadily increased over the past four decades, reflecting an increase in single-parent families and the decline of male-dominated jobs in manufacturing and construction.

Exclusive: Judge to Trump: No getting out of Jupiter golf club lawsuit

President-Elect Donald J. Trump at Mar-A-Lago on Palm Beach
President-Elect Donald J. Trump at Mar-A-Lago on Palm Beach

U.S. District Court Judge Kenneth Marra on Wednesday refused yet another request by Donald Trump to toss a 2013 lawsuit filed against his Trump National Golf Club in Jupiter.

The Dec. 7 order means the case continues against Donald Trump’s country club, even though Trump is set to be sworn in as the 45th president of the United States in January.

Club members say Trump hasn’t returned an estimated $6 million to members of his country club off Donald Ross Road. Trump bought the club from the Ritz-Carlton Golf Club & Spa for $5 million in 2012.

When the Ritz owned it, deposits ranging from $35,000 to $210,000 were refundable. But once Trump bought the club, some club members say Trump changed the rules and refused to return their deposits.

In July, Marra denied Trump’s request to throw out the lawsuit against Trump National. He also denied a request that the lawsuit not go forward as a class-action case.

In his Dec. 7 order, Marra made it clear that the issue raised in the July request were raised also in the trial held in West Palm Beach in August.

Eric Trump appears at federal court in August to testify in Jupiter golf club trial
Eric Trump appears at federal court in West Palm Beach in August to testify in the lawsuit involving the Trump National Golf Club in Jupiter, Fl

“The best course of action is for the Court to resolve these issues with the benefit of a full trial record,” Marra wrote.

In other words, Marra isn’t going to let Trump out on an easy procedural move.

Rather, he’ll make his decision on all the issues when he renders a decision based on the two-day August trial.

Trump lawyer Herman J. Russomanno III of Miami issued this statement: “Although the Trump Club would have been pleased if the Court granted their motion, it is the Trump Club’s position that as to the ultimate ruling following the bench trial, that the Court should find in favor of the Trump Club.”

Trump lawyer Herman Russomanno III of Russomanno & Borello in Miami
Trump lawyer Herman Russomanno III of Russomanno & Borello in Miami

Russomanno said the trial showed that the members had resigned from the club and therefore didn’t have the right to use the club after they had resigned.

The issue of whether members resigned, or were terminated as members by Trump, is a major sticking point in the case.

Club members who are plaintiffs in the case say Trump breached their contract, misled them and then refused to give them back their deposits. But at the trial, Trump son Eric Trump testified that the Trump Organization had saved the ailing club.

Donald Trump, who at the time was campaigning as the Republican presidential nominee, did not appear at trial. But his deposition was entered into the record. In it, he described how the Trump Organization had revived the club.

“We have done a substantial upgrade to virtually all the facility: the clubhouse, the courts, the course, the public areas, the dining areas. Everything,” Trump said in an April deposition. “It’s like a brand-new place.”

Donald Trump sent a Dec. 17, 2013, letter to club members that is a key piece of evidence in the case. In that letter, Trump said Ritz members could “opt in” to his new club, in exchange for agreeing their memberships were nonrefundable.

If members weren’t interested in opting in, and they remained on a club resignation list, Trump said he didn’t want them, anyway.

“You’re probably not going to be a very good club member … you’re out,” Trump wrote in the letter. “As the owner of the club, I do not want them to utilize the club nor do I want their dues.”

Sometimes judges give hints as to their trial decision in procedural matters such as this one, lawyers said.

But it remains unclear whether Marra will rule in favor the former club members or in favor of Trump.

The Jupiter golf course remains one of the last major lawsuits still unresolved against the billionaire real estate developer and reality TV star.

A federal lawsuit filed in California involving allegations of fraud at Trump’s now-defunct Trump University recently was settled. The case had been set for trial Nov. 28.

And Trump dropped his $100 million lawsuit against Palm Beach County over jets flying near Mar-A-Lago, his private club in Palm Beach.





Palm Beach County wages highest in Florida, but below national average

(Getty Images)
(Getty Images)


Once again, Palm Beach County’s wages are the highest in Florida. And, once again, they’re below the national average.

The average weekly wage in Palm Beach County during the second quarter was $963, the Bureau of Labor Statistics said Wednesday. Miami-Dade County was No. 2 at $958 a week. The national average was $989, and Northern California’s Santa Clara County had the top wage, at $2,252.

Palm Beach County is losing ground on the rest of the nation. Our average wage rose 2 percent, compared to a national average of 2.2 percent.

Who’s hiring low-wage foreign workers? Not just Trump — see Top 10 list for Palm Beach County

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

Palm Beach County’s most famous employer just won permission to hire 64 foreign workers at The Mar-a-Lago Club in Palm Beach, but President-elect Donald Trump isn’t the only employer looking abroad to hire low-wage workers.

The feds have given Palm Beach County employers permission to hire more than 1,800 foreign workers through the H-2B visa program. Most of the positions are for jobs such as cook, maid and waiter or waitress.

The Mar-a-Lago Club ranks No. 10 on the list of most active Palm Beach County users of the program. The other nine:

  1. Boca West Country Club: 351 workers at wages of $10.17 to $17.64
  2. The Breakers Palm Beach: 142 workers at $9.61 to $12.74
  3. The Everglades Club in Palm Beach: 113 workers at $11 to $13.01
  4. Mirasol Club in Palm Beach Gardens: 98 workers at $11.13 to $13.01
  5. Frenchman’s Creek in Palm Beach Gardens: 97 workers at $9.37 to $12.34
  6. Polo Club at Boca Raton: 91 workers at $10.25 to $17.88
  7. Ibis Golf & Country Club in West Palm Beach: 90 workers at $11.50 to $13
  8. Troon Golf at BallenIsles in Palm Beach Gardens: 78 workers at $11.13 to $13.01
  9. Lost Tree Club in North Palm Beach: 66 workers at $9.61 to $12.74
  10. The Mar-a-Lago Club in Palm Beach: 64 workers at $10.17 to $12.74

Building spree at FAU: School plans to break ground on indoor football practice facility


Florida Atlantic University has yet to reach its ambitious fundraising goal of $46 million for an indoor football field at its Boca Raton campus, but the school has brought in enough to begin construction next month.

FAU President John Kelly said Thursday that the university has raised $30 million for a new athletics complex and has scheduled a groundbreaking for Jan. 20. FAU in December 2014 announced the project, which was sparked by a $16 million gift from the Schmidt Family Foundation.

The facility would be dominated by an indoor football field, but it would be used by all of FAU’s athletes, the school says. FAU’s football team has underperformed in recent years, drawing sparse crowds and compiling a 9-27 record over the past three seasons. The losses led to the firing of coach Charlie Partridge at the end of the 2016 season.

The facility is slated for land next to the school’s $70 million football stadium.

FAU has other building plans, too: It hopes to build a $33 million brain science facility along Donald Ross Road in Jupiter.