Palm Beach County’s housing affordability lowest in a decade

(Getty Images)

Palm Beach County housing affordability fell to its lowest level in nearly a decade, the National Association of Home Builders said Thursday.

Just 56.9 percent of new and existing homes sold between the beginning of April and end of June were affordable to families earning Palm Beach County’s median income of $67,900. That’s down from the 60.4 percent of homes sold that were affordable to median-income earners in the first quarter.

Rising prices were the biggest driver of falling affordability. Palm Beach County’s median home price was $250,000 in the second quarter, up from $222,000 in the first quarter.

Palm Beach County’s affordability index hasn’t been below 57 percent since 2008.

Alfred Angelo employee: You violated our rights, owe us 60 days pay

Defunct dress chain Alfred Angelo violated workers rights when it abruptly shut down in July, according to a lawsuit filed by a former employee.

In a suit filed Wednesday, former Alfred Angelo employee Deborah Hightower said she was one of 248 employees whose rights under the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act were violated.

RELATED: Thousands of dresses to be auctioned in September

Alfred Angelo “violated the WARN Act by failing to give the plaintiff and other similarly
situated employees of the Defendant at least 60 days’ advance written notice of termination, as required by the WARN Act,” Hightower’s suit said. “As a consequence, the plaintiff and other similarly situated employees of the defendant are entitled under the WARN Act to recover from the defendant their wages and [Employee Retirement Income Security Act] benefits for 60 days, none of which has been paid.”

Hightower worked at Alfred Angelo’s facility at 1625 S. Congress Ave. in Delray Beach until July 13, the suit said. Alfred Angelo filed for Chapter 7 on July 14.

The suit, filed as part of the bankruptcy proceeding, seeks class action status. Hightower alleges that he and other employees are owed pay and benefits for 60 days.

Thousands of dresses from Alfred Angelo’s inventory to be auctioned next month

Looking for a deal on a wedding gown? Thousands of dresses from the inventory of failed bridal chain Alfred Angelo could be auctioned next month.

The bankruptcy trustee assigned to the case has proposed an auction for Sept. 2 in Deerfield Beach. If the judge approves, the sale would be run by auctioneer Stan Crooks, president of Auction America in West Palm Beach.

NEW: Former employee of Alfred Angelo says company violated 248 workers’ rights with abrupt layoff 

Crooks said Alfred Angelo’s inventory includes 5,000 to 10,000 wedding party gowns, plus supplies such as warehouse racks, commercial sewing machines and a pallet jack.

Crooks said he plans to bring a mirror, just in case any brides-to-be want to try on dresses.

The auctioneer will add a 10 percent buyer’s premium to each final bid price, according to court documents. Auction America also will get “reasonable and documented expenses” up to $18,000.

Delray Beach-based Alfred Angelo, a bridal chain with stores throughout the nation, abruptly ceased operations in July.

Want a seasonal job at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Club? Fire up the fax — but the number doesn’t seem to work

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

UPDATE: One day after The Palm Beach Post reported that a fax number listed in a classified ad to apply for a job at President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Club was not working, the number now is operational. A reporter who dialed the number on Tuesday was greeted by the familiar whistles of a fax machine.

EARLIER STORY: Interested in a low-wage job at President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Club? You’ll need to fire up your fax machine to apply, although the fax number listed in Trump’s ads doesn’t seem to be accepting faxed resumes.

Mar-a-Lago published three help-wanted ads in the Palm Beach Post on July 27. They detailed qualifications for cooks, servers and housekeepers and instructed applicants to “Apply by fax to 561-832-2194.” No phone number or email address is listed, although job seekers can visit the CareerSource office on Belvedere Road.

Alas, the fax number listed in Trump’s recent help-wanted ads doesn’t ring to a fax line. Three times on Monday, the line answered with a recorded voice saying, “I’m sorry, no one is available to take your call. Thank you for calling. Goodbye.”

Trump has raised eyebrows with the apparent disconnect between his anti-immigration rhetoric and his routine hiring of foreign workers at his club. Trump has told his Labor Department that he hopes to hire 76 foreign workers for at the Mar-a-Lago Club in Palm Beach and Trump National Golf Club in Jupiter for the 2017-18 tourist season.

The Washington Post noticed the ads and reported that they seem to be part of “a ritualized failure” to find American workers for seasonal jobs.

The ads are four 35-hour-a-week positions. Mar-a-Lago offers workers housing for $50 to $75 a week, the ads say.


Office Depot starts same-day delivery service

In a bid to shore up its eroding sales, Office Depot said Monday that it’s testing same-day delivery in three markets.

“With our new same-day delivery and our omnichannel approach, we are utilizing our retail stores as assets and part of our supply chain to give our customers the best possible experience,” Office Depot Chief Executive Gerry Smith said in a statement.

Customers who shop on officedepot.com can choose scheduled same-day delivery. The service is available in South Florida, Los Angeles and Atlanta. Office Depot says it will waive delivery fees as it tests the service.

Staples, Office Depot’s larger rival, began same-day delivery more than a year ago. Both retailers have been hurt by the rise of Amazon and by declining demand for pens, papers and printer cartridges.

Office Depot’s sales fell from $12.7 billion on 2014 to $11 billion in 2016, and the Boca Raton-based retailer has been closing stores and distribution centers.

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Whither Winn-Dixie? Publix asserts total domination of Palm Beach County grocery market

Greg Lovett / The Palm Beach Post

Palm Beach County residents of a certain age recall when going to the grocery store meant choosing between Publix and Winn-Dixie.

These days, there’s not much of a choice. Publix has so thoroughly vanquished Winn-Dixie that the Lakeland-based grocer has seven times as many locations as Winn-Dixie. And Publix has more Palm Beach County locations than all other grocers combined.

RELATED: Publix: Where shopping for real estate is a pleasure

That’s according to research by Josh Ladle, a broker at commercial real estate firm Avison Young. He says he visited every one of the 130 grocery-anchored shopping centers in Palm Beach County to compile a comprehensive list of supemarkets in the county. The results:

  • Publix leads the way with 75 stores in Palm Beach County.
  • Winn-Dixie has just 11 stores.
  • Walmart Neighborhood Market has 8 supermarkets (more, of course, if you include the grocery sections in Walmart’s full-size stores).

No other grocery chain has more than six locations. Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s have four each, while Aldi has six.

Winn-Dixie rode a string of lackluster customer service and financial woes into near-oblivion.

“The quality was just so much better at Publix that they took all the market,” Ladle said.

Now, Publix is pinching out rivals by opening new stores wherever it can. The result, Ladle said, is that the prime locations for supermarkets are taken.

Ladle also tracked vacancies at grocery-anchored centers and found 8.4 percent vacancies at Publix plazas, compared to 16.8 percent at Winn-Dixie properties. However, he said, the numbers were skewed because a number of the Winn-Dixie centers are being redeveloped.

Publix operated 1,136 stores as of the end of 2016.

Retail disconnect continues: Stores closing, but vacancies fall

Sports Authority is gone, Sears is going and merchants everywhere are terrified by Amazon’s next move. And yet: Palm Beach County’s retail vacancy rate keeps inching lower.

Palm Beach County retail space was 89.4 percent full as of mid-2017, up from 89.1 percent in mid-2016, according to commercial real estate brokerage Avison Young.

In one of the great disconnects of the post-Amazon economy, retailers are being decimated but retail landlords are performing well. Despite store closings by Sports Authority, Macy’s and JCPenney, other retailers keeping jumping in to fill space vacated by failing merchants.

Dog-poop-free apartment complex in Palm Beach Gardens fetches $118 million

Construction at The Quaye at Palm Beach Gardens. (Jeff Ostrowski/The Palm Beach Post)

In the biggest real estate sale in Palm Beach County in recent months, the Quaye apartment complex in Palm Beach Gardens just sold for $118.35 million, according to property records.

The pet-friendly complex was built in 2015 — with the caveat that the Quaye’s canine-owning tenants had to submit to doggy DNA tests so stray poop could be identified.

The 19-acre complex near Interstate 95 had 340 units, meaning it sold for an eye-popping $348,000 per unit.

When the complex opened to tenants in 2015, monthly rents ranged from $1,490 for a one-bedroom apartment to $2,560 for a four-bedroom unit.

The new owner is an affiliate of PGIM Real Estate in Atlanta. The seller was South Gardens LLC of Tampa.

Trouble in paradise: Palm Beach mansion owner sues oceanfront neighbor, alleging barking dogs, rude behavior

The mansion at 1236 S. Ocean Blvd. in Palm Beach.

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, who lives in Greenwich, Connecticut, in 2002 paid $17.5 million for the mansion at 100 Emerald Beach Way in Palm Beach. Thornton, a Wall Street titan, paid $77.5 million in 2008 for the mansion at 1236 S. Ocean Blvd. Thornton later bought the vacant lot at 100 Emerald Beach Way, which sits between Jacobs’ property and South Ocean Boulevard.

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.

New owner for apartment complex in downtown West Palm Beach

The new Loftin Place apartments in West Palm Beach. (Bill Ingram/Palm Beach Post)

A New York landlord is the new owner of the Loftin Place apartments in downtown West Palm Beach.

Castle Lanterra Properties of Suffern, N.Y., paid an undisclosed amount for the 259-unit complex at 805 N. Olive Ave.

The new owner wouldn’t say how much it paid, and no deed has been recorded. But the sale price was rumored to be more than $60 million, a reflection of intense demand for shiny new rental units.

UPDATE: Castle Lanterra says it paid $63.5 million for the property.