Votes on adult living, day care west of Boca Raton delayed

Residents west of Boca Raton will have to wait a little longer to find out if a senior living center and a day care will be built near their homes.

A proposal by St. Louis-based Allegro Senior Living and property owner Alan D. Simon to build on Clint Moore Road has been delayed.

The project’s planners requested a postponement of a planning hearing and a vote by the Palm Beach County commission. The meetings were set to take place this month, but now a planning meeting won’t be held until Dec. 8 and a county commission meeting won’t take place until Jan. 31.

Planners said the delay “will allow the applicant to continue to work with the neighbors.”

The projects are proposed for a 13-acre parcel in the Agriculture Reserve, on the north side of Clint Moore Road just west of Florida’s Turnpike.

The Ag Reserve is  a 22,000-acre farming and conservation zone west of Boca Raton, Delray Beach and Boynton Beach. Building in the reserve has been limited by strict county rules, but the reserve has been under increasing development pressure.

Allegro wants to build a 151-unit, 223-bed rental adult living facility that will feature independent and assisted living, plus memory care. Allegro operates facilities in Boynton Beach and Jupiter.

Adjacent to the 175,000-square-foot development, a daycare for 240 children also is proposed. Simon is chief executive of Alternative Educational Systems, which owns the Randazzo School in Coconut Creek.

Some residents who live near the property fear the projects will add to traffic and noise in the area. They’ve organized a group, www.clintmoorewest.com, to oppose the project.

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.

 

Darth Vader 2.0: Office tower gets reboot

Northbridge Centre in West Palm Beach

The Force is awakening at the old Darth Vader building in downtown West Palm Beach.

Plans are in the works to do a major upgrade of the Northbridge Centre, the 21-story office building informally named after Luke Skywalker’s father, thanks to its ominous black-glass exterior.

Inside, however, plans are to brighten the 515 N. Flagler Dr. tower with a $10 million upgrade.

Rendering of lobby renovation planned for Northbridge Centre

The goal is to lure new office tenants to the city’s downtown, before talked-about new office towers start rising during the next couple of years.

City business and government leaders have been crying for months there’s not enough office space in the city’s core, prompting developers such as The Related Cos, Charles Cohen and Jeff Greene to draft or consider plans for new office towers.

But owners and brokers at Northbridge say there’s plenty of space in their waterfront building, especially for those coveted hedge funds and private equity firms that the county’s Business Development Board is trying to hard to lure.

“We’re the last game in town, and we’ll be the best game when these renovations are completed,” said Peter Reed, managing principal at Commercial Florida Realty Services in Boca Raton.

“With nearly 100,000 square feet of vacancy, we’re the only building with any appreciable waterfront space left in the market,” added Angelo Bianco, managing partner of Boca Raton-based Crocker Partners, a co-owner of the building.

Commercial Florida is representing Northbridge, along with Tower Commercial.

They are working to draw attention to the sometimes-overlooked property that was acquired last year by Greenfield Partners of Connecticut and Crocker. The companies paid $68.24 million for the 294,000-square-foot building, which includes a separate four-story pavillion with a rooftop garden.

Northbridge, which now houses a number of law firms, is about 70 percent leased. The property was built in 1984.

Plans are afoot to make the building physically as appealing as those waterview vistas, Bianco said.

For starters, gone will be those red stripes on the outside of the building. (Darth Vader didn’t have them; Northbridge soon won’t have them, either.)

Inside, plans are underway to build an upscale conference center that will be able to hold about 140 people. The roughly 3,000-square-foot space will feature all the latest high-tech gadgets and will serve as a building amenity to tower tenants, Bianco said.

Crocker also will add expand the health club and build a brand new café. Bathrooms and floor lobbies will be upgraded and new elevator cabs put in, Bianco said.

Bianco said the building is well-positioned in the market. Physically, it’s right next to the new Flagler Memorial Bridge, which is nearing completion.

Once this north bridge opens, Reed said it will provide less congested traffic flows with easy access to the property, compared to other office towers clustered around the middle bridge at Okeechobee Boulevard.

“Follow the compass rose north, the direction West Palm Beach is moving,” Reed quipped.

From a price perspective, Northbridge’s rental rates are a better bet, too, Reed said.

Rents at Northbridge go for around $30 per foot not including taxes, maintenance and insurance. That’s about $20 per square foot less than buildings such as Phillips Point or CityPlace Tower, where rents start around $50 per square foot, Reed said.

Not surprisingly, Northbridge’s’ brokers are going after the same tenants everyone else in town wants: Mid-sized tenants needing 3,000 to 7,000 square feet of space.

The building upgrades are expected to be completed by May 2018.

 

 

 

 

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.

 

 

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.

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.

 

 

 

 

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.