Stranded at Flagler Shore? Readers react

Flagler Shore in West Palm Beach

 

Flagler Shore in West Palm Beach is a neat idea — for the fairgrounds, said retired businessman Robert Garvy. “At least they have public restrooms there,” Garvy said.

Garvey is one of a number of business leaders and residents who were sympathetic to the frustration expressed by Dennis Hammond of Sandpointe Asset Management, with offices in the Phillips Point office complex on Flagler Drive.

Recently, Hammond told the Palm Beach Post and city leaders he was dismayed by the city’s Flagler Shore project, which involve shutting down a portion of the eastern lanes of Flagler Drive to make way for chairs, bicyclists, street jugglers and graffiti-laden shipping containers.

City officials say they’re trying to broaden the waterfront’s appeal by making it a more pedestrian and bicycle-friendly place. The partial road shutdown runs through March 1.

Hammond says the effort is “goofy” and anti-business.

Flagler Drive is an important north-south thoroughfare, Hammond said. He noted the area already has plenty of places to enjoy the waterfront, without necessitating the transformation of a four-lane road into a two-lane one so that people can partake in “pavement lunches on Flagler.”

Garvy, the retired chairman of money management firm, Intech, agreed wholeheartedly.

And bluntly.

“How low can our city leaders take this town? The Flagler waterfront is beautiful as it is,” Garvy wrote Hammond in an email, copied to the Palm Beach Post. ” It’s amazing what lack of vision these people have.”

Garvy is an influential business leader who kicked off the leasing of the CityPlace Tower office building when he moved Intech to the tower’s penthouse, from a location in Palm Beach Gardens.

Robert Garvy, formerly chairman of Intech in West Palm Beach

In an interview, Garvy said he’s making another investment in the city. He bought a unit in The Bristol, the West Palm Beach luxury condominium under construction at 1100 S. Flagler Dr. Garvey plans to move there from a single-family home on Palm Beach.

Now he’s wondering what will happen if the city’s vision of street merchants, roller-bladers and street artists remains a permanent fixture along the waterfront, an area he had contemplated strolling at night.

“The people I’ve talked to recently are appalled, just appalled, not only by the action but by the process that was followed here,” Garvy said, citing the minimal notice to the community.

He’s not alone in being bewildered by the whole venture.

“I can’t help but wonder who would create such an unsightly mess,” Michael Andersen, who works at Phillips Point, wrote in an email to city officials. “The experiment turned this stretch of road into an obstacle course of confused drivers and no new pedestrians.”

In a recent interview, West Palm Beach economic development director Christopher Roog said Flagler Shore isn’t anti-business. In fact, the business community benefits from the public space and recreational features there, Roog said.

“The waterfront is a very important place for (our residents),” Roog said, “so what can we do to make it better for everyone?”

A number of people have expressed their support for the experiment, on a Facebook page called Engage West Palm Beach.

“We drive on Flagler all the time and think it’s great!!” wrote Chris Costello Haerting.

“Flagler Shore is all about trying to better the city of West Palm Beach,” wrote Joseph Russo. “Once (in) awhile, our elected officials take a stand in defense of the new. But before many of these groundbreaking new ideas can take root and flourish, they are often knocked down for fear of change, detriment, or blight…..(While) we might not all agree on the means, we should unite behind the vision at least.”

Garvy hopes any further consideration to extending Flagler Shore will involve the residents and businesses.

The city’s website said it encourages public feedback on the new design and new activities via email at  flaglershore@wpb.org.

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.

 

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.

BofA building sells for $23 million in WPB

share467A medical office building in downtown West Palm Beach is one step closer to being a reality.

The Bank of America Centre in West Palm Beach sold Oct. 14 for $23 million to a group that plans to bring medical offices to the waterview property, including Jupiter Medical Center and Mount Sinai Hospital of New York.

The 10-story, 110,000-square-foot office building overlooks the Intracoastal Waterway at 625 N. Flagler Drive.

Bank of America Centre
Bank of America Centre

Developer Michael McCloskey of FRI Investors is the buyer, along with Palm Beach investors Tom and Leslie Quick. They formed an entity called 625 Flagler Acquisition LLC, according to a deed recorded with the Palm Beach County clerk’s office.

The seller is EFN Flagler Property LLC, an entity owned by car dealer Ed Napleton, who bought it in 2014 and flipped it to Flagler Acquisition for about double what he paid.

Another bidder for the building confirmed the property’s note was sold for a price in excess of $11 million to Napleton, although the recorded deed shows a price of only $2.9 million.

McCloskey tried to bring the medical tenants to the city owned “tent site” on Okeechobee Boulevad and South Dixie Highway last year. The deal didn’t go through.

But medical tenants remain interested in catering to wealthy Palm Beach residents across the bridge. The Bank of America building is well-located to the island, next to the Flagler Memorial Bridge.

Even though the property is known as the Bank of America Centre, the bank no longer is in the building. Bank of America moved to the nearby Esperante office center this year.

Signs touting the incoming medical tenants are expected to rebrand the building.

 

Two WPB apartments to get multi-million dollar upgrades

Arium apartments in West Palm Beach
Arium apartments in West Palm Beach

An Atlanta-based company that turns around old apartments has swooped into West Palm Beach and purchased  two apartment complexes, with plans to spend a whopping $20 million renovating them.

Cortland Partners, an investment and management firm, purchased 396-unit Arium Palm Cove and 416-unit Arium at Laguna Lakes.

Cortland plans to combine the apartment complexes into one community to be called Portofino Place, in a bid to make the properties operate more efficiently. The apartment communities are north of Palm Beach Lakes Boulevard, to the west of Interstate 95.

The purchase closed on Oct. 14. Terms were not disclosed. The seller was Carroll Communities, which bought the apartment complexes just last year for $112 million.

A top Cortland executive said the purchase price was a premium over the previous $112 million sale, but still was less money than new construction would have cost.

John Builder of Cortland Partners
John Builder of Cortland Partners

 

As a result, Cortland will be able to rehab the apartments and make them as luxurious — or better — than new apartment complexes coming onto the market, said John Builder, Cortland director of investments for Florida.

Cortland’s move could signal a shift away from developers seeking to build new apartments, and instead indicate that some real estate players think it might be cheaper to buy old ones and fix them up.

After all, construction costs are going up and bankers are demanding stricter lending terms, according to a recent real estate forum featuring the region’s top apartment builders.

During the next two years, Cortland will take units as they are vacated by tenants and completely redo them. Kitchens will receive 42-inch cabinets, granite countertops, tile backsplashes and stainless steel appliances. Bathrooms will receive new plumbing and lighting.

A Laguna Lakes pool will be rebuilt because it is too small.

When the upgrades are completed, Builder expects rental rates will rise to between $230 to $250 a unit. Online rents now range from about $1,200 to $2,000 for one to three-bedroom apartments at Arium Palm Cove, according to apartments.com.

Although some apartment developers are starting to be wonder if rental rates can go much higher, Builder said Cortland is thinking of long-term housing trends. And those trends shows increasing apartment dwelling, Builder said.

A major reason: Young people in their 20s are putting off buying homes until they are well into their 30s.

“They’re more tied to a career than what they perceive as a financial anchor,” Builder said.

Cortland thinks Palm Beach County shows positive signs for continued job growth, a positive trend for apartment owners.

Cortland has been impressed by deals such as  UTC’s decision to build the Center for Intelligent Buildings in Palm Beach Gardens. The center, which will showcase UTC products and brands, is expected to create hundreds of new jobs.

Builder said Cortland has been eager to enter the Palm Beach County market, and this was a strong first deal.

“We needed a tent pole in Southeast Florida, and 812 units is a great way to have a tent pole,” Builder said. “It’s not going to be our last (deal) either. We’re bullish on the area over the long-term.”

Cortland owns 35,000 apartment units throughout seven states, mostly in the Southeast U.S. and also Texas.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Seven things to know about Palm Beach County’s real estate market

From left to right: Joel Altman, the Altman Companies; Mike Belmont, Minto Communities; Jeff Greene; Bob Vail, Kolter Urban; Michael Wohl, Pinnacle Housing
From left to right: Joel Altman, the Altman Companies; Mike Belmont, Minto Communities; Jeff Greene; Bob Vail, Kolter Urban; Michael Wohl, Pinnacle Housing. Photo courtesy Green Advertising.

Banks are turning off their money spigots.  Apartment rental rates aren’t likely to go up.

But people still need to live somewhere, and five prominent housing developers told a crowd of about 70 on Thursday they remain mostly bullish about the Palm Beach County housing market.

The speakers were Jeff Greene, a Palm Beach billionaire and West Palm Beach land investor;  Mike Belmont, president of Minto Communities Florida; Bob Vail, president of Kolter Urban; Joel Altman, chairman of The Altman Companies; and Michael Wohl, president of Pinnacle Housing.

They addressed a crowd assembled at Morton’s Steak House for the aptly-named Real Estate Developer Power Lunch. The lunch was hosted by Green Advertising and chairman Phyllis Green, in celebration of the company’s 30th anniversary representing a range of businesses, especially developers.

Although the real estate developers were enthusiastic about their own projects, they candidly voiced concerns about housing affordability, demand for rental apartments and the future of new projects proposed in the county.

And, in a one-on-one interview with a reporter, one developer  dropped a bombshell.

Here are seven takeaways:

  • Minto is not promising to build parks and recreational facilities at Westlake, a city created after the county gave Minto approval to develop 4,500 homes in a portion of the Acreage. “That’s up to the city (of Westlake),” Minto’s Mike Belmont told this reporter. Minto is the primary landowner in the Seminole Improvement District, whose boundaries now roughly equate those of Westlake. The project calls for 200 acres of parks and 15 miles of trails for horses, bikes and walkers. After Westlake was created, county officials worried Minto would not keep its promises and instead, punt to Westlake.
  • Boca Raton is about to become a hot market for apartment rentals.  Altman’s soon-to-open 396-unit apartment complex, Altis Boca Raton, is expected to attract professionals working in the nearby Park at Broken Sound. Altis is under construction on Military Trail and is expected to open in March. Rents will range from $1,800 to the high $2,000s for one, two and three bedroom apartments.
  • West Palm Beach remains an iffy market for more new apartments. Greene said there’s a limited pool of people who can afford pricey rents. At the Strand apartment building and City Palm condos, where Greene owns bulk units and rents them out, he consistently has a 10 percent vacancy rate. “We don’t have robust demand,” Greene said.
  • Housing affordability is a problem. Belmont said Westlake will provide for-sale homes for working families, but other developers who build apartments acknowledged rents are starting to become too pricey. In Boca Raton, Altman said rental rate increases will soon start moderating because the supply of apartments is increasing. In West Palm Beach, Greene said rental rates increases are “constrained” because there isn’t a huge pool of renters. This means rental rates are less likely to rise in the future, he said.
  •  Fewer condominium and apartment projects will be built, thanks to tightened lending practices. Making matters worse: Bank regulators are clamping down on banks that already have broad exposure to the housing market. Minto’s Belmont said one major bank dropped out of its lending group, but the company was able to replace it with another bank. “The (lending) pool is shrinking, and the banks participating in the pool are getting tougher,” agreed Kolter’s Vail. Kolter is building The Alexander apartments in West Palm Beach and the Water Club condominium in North Palm Beach.
  • West Palm Beach has a lot of proposed projects, but “of eight or 10 proposed projects, maybe one or two will get built,” Greene said. Greene said obtaining bank financing will be a problem for some developers, but not for him: He plans to self-finance construction of One West Palm, a twin-tower complex featuring office space, hotel rooms and apartments. “I’m taking a shot here, but it won’t ruin me if it doesn’t work out,” said the billionaire. Greene expects to break ground on the 30-story towers at Quadrille Boulevard within about four months.
  • Everybody wants the West Palm Beach condominium, The Bristol, to succeed. The ultra-luxury condo, now under construction on Flagler Drive, could provide a “viral” boost to the local real estate market, once the 25-story building is completed and word gets out, said Kolter’s Vail.

At Azure condo in Palm Beach Gardens, bigger is better

Tom Frankel at Azure condominium in Palm Beach Gardens
Tom Frankel at Azure condominium in Palm Beach Gardens

The luxury Azure condominium in Palm Beach Gardens, now under construction, will break ground on its second phase on Aug. 24.

But this second building will be a little different from the first building.

Developer Tom Frankel said residents moving from large homes with 7,000 square feet or more wanted more space, so he redesigned the second building to meet demand.

Plans were for the second building to have 67 units. But due to demand for big condos, the number of units was cut to 55, with each about 5,000 square feet in size.

The bigger-is-better trend surprised Frankel, who was worried that 2,700 square feet in the first building would be too large for some buyers.

But then a couple of buyers ended up combining units to create a 6,000 square foot unit. More would have done the same, but there weren’t enough condo units left, Frankel said.

The property is  off of Donald Ross Road, near the Loggerhead Marina.

Buyers at Azure will be able to enjoy two swimming pools, a putting green and fitness center with steam rooms and saunas. The property spans 14 acres.

Of 55 units planned in the second, five-story building, 37 already are pre-sold, Frankel said.

The first building is nearly sold out, with 45 of 46 luxury units sold. Prices range from the $900,000s to $3 million. Construction on the first building is nearly complete, and Frankel said residents will be moving in by October.

Residents in this first building will be able to reside in units ranging from 2,600 to more than 5,000 square feet, with additional covered terraces overlooking the marina.

Buyers have been a mix of local residents moving in from nearby country club communities and buyers from the Northeast seeking second homes.

Frankel said condo sales in January were slow, due to the stock market’s roller coast performance.

But the stock market roared back and so have sales. The past few months more than made up for the sluggish 2016 sales start, Frankel said.

 

 

Related inks deal for office tower on Christian Science land

First Church of Christ, Science in West Palm Beach
First Church of Christ, Science in West Palm Beach

The Related Cos. has wrapped up a contract to buy prime property next to the First Church of Christ, Scientist, where Related hopes to build a soaring, 30-story tower along Flagler Drive in downtown West Palm Beach.

A top Related executive on Tuesday confirmed the church signed the contract, which now paves the way for the company to start seeking city approval to build a 300,000-square-foot luxury office tower.

“Yes, they signed it. And we made a deposit a week ago,” confirmed Ken Himmel, president of Related Urban, the mixed-use unit of New York-based Related Cos.

Related built CityPlace, the CityPlace Tower office building and the new Hilton convention center hotel.

But the company always has coveted the parking lot and building next to the Christian Science church, at Flagler Drive and Lakeview Avenue.

It’s a prime corner across from the Royal Park Bridge to Palm Beach.

Other suitors have wanted the property, too, but sources say they weren’t willing to pay the big bucks sought by the church’s parishioners.

Related was willing, however, and the church finally was ready to sell, too, after months of negotiations.

The membership is aging and dwindling, down to less than 75. That prompted interest in selling the land, which would finance the preservation of the church, built in 1928 in the Classical Revival style of architecture.

The church’s reading room, now at 138 Lakeview Ave., would move to new space in the office tower’s ground floor.

Related’s plan for the tower is ambitious. The project’s architect is David Childs, who designed the Freedom Tower at One World Trade Center in Manhattan.

The Class A office building at the church site would offer tenants unobstructed views of the Intracoastal, Palm Beach and Atlantic Ocean.

In a statement, Childs said the tower’s design is akin to a lighthouse, linking the ocean to the “continent,” which in this case is West Palm Beach.

The slender, illuminating lighthouse-style tower might be creative, but it’s not without risk.

The big challenge: Winning approval to build taller than five stories on the property, which is zoned for lower-rise buildings. The tower would need special approval from the city.

Another challenge: The neighbors. The tower would rise above the nearest office building, the Esperante Corporate Center, which just changed hands for a whopping $127.75 million.

Also, it’s not clear if the city’s residents would favor another tall building near the water, even if it does preserve an aged church and provide the city with new office space.

 

Ex-Wall Streeters create own bank, open office on Palm Beach

Bob Matthews, chief executive of Fieldpoint Private Bank

    Bob Matthews, president and chief executive of Fieldpoint Private

Like a fish to water, another bank catering to the rich has found its way to Palm Beach.

Fieldpoint Private  has a twist, however.

This boutique wealth advisory and private banking firm was created by people who once led the nation’s biggest investment banks and companies.

They include Daniel Tully, the former chairman of Merrill Lynch(Tully, a resident of Hobe Sound, died in May at age 84); David Komansky, another former Merrill Lynch chairman; Home Depot co-founder Ken Langone; and former Time chairman Reginald Brack.

After retirement, the founders agreed they weren’t happy about the treatment they received on the other side of the table, as super-rich customers listening to their brokers pitch investments. They even created a video describing the complaints that led them to form Fieldpoint.

Their main beef was that they were tired of being advised to buy products created by the brokerage that was advising them. All felt this was a conflict of interest, and they thought there was a better way.

So in April 2008, as the financial crisis was about to hit, they created Fieldpoint Private in Connecticut. The company offers wealth management and strategy, family office, private banking and business banking services.

The office grew to a New York location in 2011.

Now Fieldpoint Private has opened an office in the Phillips Point office complex, at 777  S. Flagler Drive, in West Palm Beach.

But the company plans to move an office on Palm Beach as soon as it finds space, said Bob Matthews, Fieldpoint president and chief executive.

Joe McCool, formerly of Capital Group Private Client Services, has been tapped to lead the Palm Beach office.

Matthews said Fieldpoint doesn’t have established requirements for clients, but generally, their clients are what he called “deca-millionaires,” or people worth tens of millions of dollars.

For these clients, Fieldpoint has attracted a range of stars to its leadership roster. This includes William  Kennedy, chief investment officer. Kennedy formerly was global director of research for Citi Global Capital Markets, Inc.

During this time of global uncertainty, what’s the word from Fieldpoint on investing?

“We’re in the late innings of this particular game,” Matthews said. “So batten down the hatches.”

Put another way, Fieldpoint Private is advising its customers to hedge against the inevitable coming downturn.

 

 

Fountains club OK’s $17 million land sale to GL Homes

Fountains Country Club
Fountains Country Club

Members of the Fountains Country Club have approved the $17 million sale of country club land to GL Homes, which plans to build 470 housing units at the suburban Lake Worth club.

The sale, first reported June 2 by the Post,  includes parts of the North Golf Course, one of the club’s three courses, as well as undeveloped land on the east side of the 865-acre property, bordered by Lake Worth Road on the north and Lantana Road on the south.

Members approved the sale in a vote earlier this month.

GL Homes plans to build between 150 to 200 single-family homes. GL also will build between 250 to 300 apartments, marking the first time the Sunrise-based home builder has entered the apartment construction market, according to Larry Portnoy, GL Homes vice president.

Paul Napieralski, Fountains Country Club president, hailed the sale.He said it will allow the club to make needed upgrades so that the club  “once again become one of the premier clubs in Palm Beach County.”

As part of the deal, the Fountains must build a $2.5 million resort-style pool.

The sale is a way for the club to also cope with declining membership during the past five years, Napieralski had said in a letter to club members.

Not all residents of the community were on board with the plan, however. Some opposed the sale as a short-term fix to a long-term problem, which they say is mandatory membership in the country club.

Residents of the new GL Homes will not be required to join the country club as equity members, as residents in some older Fountains communities have been required to do.

The issue has split the community and even resulted in lawsuits.

Golf clubs have been dealing with declining membership for years. The problem is particularly acute in Palm Beach County, with its plethora of clubs.