Jeff Greene’s school: New images


The Greene School, launched by Palm Beach billionaire Jeff Greene, released campus renderings late Thursday and announced that architect Carlo Ratti will collaborate with Miami firm Arquitectonica on the design of the school.

In February, The Palm Beach Post’s Alexandra Clough broke the news of plans for the school.

It is under construction at 2001 S. Dixie Highway in West Palm Beach.

The school will help breathe life into a dormant stretch of Dixie Highway. It will replace the Mazda dealership that closed years ago.


According to a news release,  plans for The Greene School include construction of a soccer field, tennis courts and garden behind the building.

The school is planned to open in September 2016 to Pre-K, kindergarten, first and second graders. Nan Wodarz has been hired as founding head of school after serving as head of the Sage School for gifted students near Boston, according to the release.

The rest of the release:

About The Greene School: Conceived by Palm Beach residents and philanthropists Jeff and Mei Sze Greene, The Greene School operates with the mission to empower high-performing students from preschool through eighth grade to be adaptive, confident and productive stewards of an evolving world. The school pairs innovative teaching methods with new digital communication tools to form a network of connective, creative learners. Located at 2001 South Dixie Highway in West Palm Beach, The Greene School is presently accepting applications for students in Pre-K, kindergarten, first and second grades for the upcoming academic year beginning in September 2016.

 Jeff and Mei Sze Greene have dedicated substantial time and resources to philanthropic causes, including a commitment to The Giving Pledge, in which the world’s wealthiest individuals and families dedicate the majority of their wealth to charity. Jeff Greene, who holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Johns Hopkins University and Master of Business Administration from Harvard Business School, is the founder of The Greene Institute, a nonprofit dedicated to finding, developing and promoting strategies for increasing upward mobility in America. The Institute recently hosted a three-day conference titled “Closing the Gap: Solutions For An Inclusive Economy.”




Palm Beach County ranks No. 2 nationally in number of vacation homes

Palm Beach condos (Meghan McCarthy/Palm Beach Daily News)
Palm Beach condos (Meghan McCarthy/Palm Beach Daily News)

Palm Beach County is home to more second homes than nearly any county in the country, according to an analysis of American Community Survey data by the National Association of Home Builders.

The Census Bureau’s 2014 ACS counts nearly 100,000 second homes here, defined as properties that aren’t primary residences and aren’t rentals:


Mansion builder Frank McKinney plans “micro-mansion” in Ocean Ridge

Frank McKinney at an oceanfront manse in Manalapan.

Mansion builder Frank McKinney says he’s “semi-retired” from the business of building splashy oceanfront spec homes. But he’ll unveil plans next week for a concept he calls the micro-mansion.

McKinney, who has built beachfront mansions in Delray Beach, Manalapan and Ocean Ridge, says he’s building a house in Ocean Ridge that’s not on the ocean and, at a mere 4,042 square feet, tiny compared to his typical estates.

“I’ve built bedrooms bigger than this house,” McKinney says.

The idea, he says, is that super-wealthy buyers want luxury but not the hassles of owning massive palaces.

“They want all the grandeur, all the opulence, all the artistry we’re offering, but they don’t want it in 10,000 square feet,” McKinney says.

McKinney is cagey both about the location — property records show he paid $315,000 last year for a vacant lot west of A1A — and the asking price.

“If I stick a number on it now that’s too low, then I lose money,” McKinney says. “If I stick a price on it that it’s too high, people think it’s ridiculous.”

McKinney acknowledges that putting a hefty price on a not-so-hefty home is risky, but he doesn’t seem too worried.

“If I’m wrong,” he says, “I’ve got another place for my in-laws to stay,”



Top 10: Palm Beach County’s busiest new home developments have little for middle-class families


For those who fret about the affordability of homes in Palm Beach County, the new-home market offers no sign of relief. The four busiest developments in 2015 catered either to retirees or to high-end buyers.

The list above, compiled by Metrostudy, shows the 10 most active single-family developments in South Florida and the Treasure Coast, ranked by housing starts in 2015.

In the top spot with 324 starts is Valencia Cove, GL Homes’ 55-and-older community in Boynton Beach. Ansca Homes’ Villaggio Reserve, a 55-and-older development in Delray Beach, was the second-busiest community in Palm Beach County.

Next up is Seven Bridges, GL Homes’ high-end development west of Delray Beach. Prices there start at $700,000. Rounding out the Palm Beach County list is GL Homes’ Tuscany, also in west Delray. Prices start at $400,000.

The median price of an existing house sold in Palm Beach County in February was $295,000. Palm Beach County’s wages, while high for Florida, remain below the national average.

valencia Home construction
Construction at Valencia Cove.

Boca Raton hotelier sets sights on Italy, too

Lance Shaner
Lance Shaner

Lance Shaner, a parttime Boca Raton resident who operates a hotel in Delray Beach, runs a national hotel empire.

But now he’s going bigger, expanding his interests in Europe.

Shaner Hotels just bought the Hotel Universo in Lucca, a Medieval walled city in Italy. The deal was made in partnership with Italy’s Marcucci Group.

The 70-room hotel, which dates to 1857, will undergo a 1 1/2 year renovation, said Shaner, chief executive of Shaner Hotels, which is based in State College, Penn.

Shaner Hotels’ Shaner Italia division and the Marcucci Group are already joint venture partners in the recently upgraded 180-room Renaissance Tuscany Resort and Spa in Tuscany, Italy.

Shaner said the “massive” renovation took three years and cost 15 million euros, or as he joked, “too much.” But it features three restaurants, a spa and a conference center.

Shaner said he’d like to increase his portfolio in Italy.

Why? The answer should be obvious: “Well, I’ve really always loved Italy,” he said.

But Shaner still is working on expanding his portfolio in the U.S., including Florida.

In Palm Beach County, Shaner operates the 95-room Fairfield Inn & Suites by Marriott in Delray Beach. The newish hotel opened on west Atlantic Avenue in 2015.

He also has several new hotels under construction, including six in Florida. That will bring his holdings to 18 hotels in the state, he said.

These days, Shaner said he’s very selective about the locations of new hotels. In Florida, for instance, he prefers locations near the water. One of the hotels under construction is a Marriott Courtyard in Marathon, for instance.

Shaner is a longtime partner with Marriott, a partnership he said began when he was a young man and turned around a struggling hotel in Durham, N.C.

Shaner said he wanted to partner with Marriott right away but was told to fix the hotel up first. It took five years of work, but he said he did it. And when it was done, Marriott agreed to convert the hotel to a Marriott property.

Shaner said he loves the hotel industry: “You meet so many great people and get to travel all over the world,” he said.

So the moral of the story is….persistence pays.

And the reward for hard work is the ability to do business in Italy.



Restoration Hardware ‘mansion’ now being built on Okeechobee in downtown West Palm

Progress is being made on the new Restoration Hardware in downtown West Palm Beach.

A man walks past the Restoration Hardware in CityPlace on March 12, 2015, in West Palm Beach. The store could move to a prime spot once planned to become a signature office building. (Palm Beach Post staff file photo)
A man walks past the Restoration Hardware in CityPlace on March 12, 2015, in West Palm Beach. The store could move to a prime spot once planned to become a signature office building. (Palm Beach Post staff file photo)

The store, in a key location between the east- and westbound lanes of Okeechobee Boulevard near the entrance to the city’s downtown area, is being built as a designer showcase.

» RELATED: CityPlace plans 400 apartments, new shops, eateries

The land under the building is owned by Related Cos., the CityPlace developer.

Artist's rendering of proposed Restoration Hardware Gallery. (Provided)
Artist’s rendering of proposed Restoration Hardware Gallery. (Provided)

Related top executive Ken Himmel has told The Palm Beach Post that the 50,000-square-foot Restoration Hardware gallery will be “a Mizner-inspired mansion.”

The four-story showroom will feature outdoor courtyards, a fountain and a rooftop park.

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

“Housing shortage” hits Palm Beach County

House for sale
(Getty Images)


As the spring homebuying season heats up, Palm Beach County and the U.S. are facing a “housing shortage,” Trulia says.

In Palm Beach County, there are fewer homes for sale today than in 2012. Starter-home inventory has dropped by 20.5 percent in the past four years, trade-up homes by 23.8 percent and high-end homes by 55.7 percent.

The inevitable result? Rising prices.

Today, buyers of starter homes in Palm Beach County will need to spend 24.7 percent of their income to buy the median-priced entry-level home ($89,950).

“America is experiencing a housing shortage,” writes Trulia Chief Economist Ralph McLaughlin. “Low inventory is taking a toll on the affordability of all home segments, but especially starter homes.”

Traditional real estate brokers test 100 percent models — reluctantly


Can’t beat ’em, join ’em? That’s how traditional broker Ben Schachter is responding to the rise of 100 percent real estate companies.

Schachter is broker at Signature International Real Estate in Boca Raton, and he’s also an investor in Realty One America, a startup that uses the 100 percent model to recruit agents. In exchange for a $99 monthly fee and a $99 transaction fee, Realty One America lets agents keep the entire commission.

Schachter argues that agents are better served by a full-service business model, one that charges agents more but provides support. Signature International Real Estate’s offerings include training sessions with Mike Ferry, a nationally known sales coach.

United Realty Group, a 100 percent company based in Plantation, has used its business model to recruit nearly 400 agents in Palm Beach County — good for fourth place on the list of the county’s largest brokers.

Schachter, for his part, compares himself to the owner of a high-end steakhouse who also wants to accommodate diners looking for bargain-priced burgers.

“We only created it as an alternative,” Schachter said.

Schachter offers the caveat that he’s an investor in the 100 percent company, not the day-to-day manager. He acknowledges that 100 percent companies make a powerful recruiting pitch: Say an agent collects 3 percent for representing one party in a $300,000 sale. With a 70-30 split of the $9,000 commission, the agent gets $6,300, the brokerage $2,700. In Realty One America’s arrangement, the agent pockets $8,901, the brokerage just $99.

“Unfortunately for guys like me who have a traditional brokerage, it’s really a challenging business model,” Schachter said. “It’s insanely cheap.”

True, only a small percentage of the 20,000-plus real estate agents in Palm Beach County work for 100 percent companies, but the business model is catching on — and traditional brokers are taking note.

Myles Minns, owner of Continental Properties in West Palm Beach, a few years ago began offering agents a 100 percent commission.

“I didn’t do this because I chose to,” Minns said. “I did it because that’s what the market and the Internet made me do. The world has changed, and you have to adapt with the change. If you don’t, you’re going to be a dinosaur.”

Fewer than half his agents opt for 100 percent splits, Minns said. The rest prefer arrangements that are less generous but offer more support.

What’s the best day of the week to list a home for sale? Hint: Definitely not Sunday


Looking to get top dollar for your house? List it for sale on a Thursday, Seattle-based brokerage Redfin says.

After analyzing 12 million sales nationally over the past six years, Redfin concludes that Thursday listings command a premium averaging $1,258. Sunday is the worst day to list — homes put on the market then take an average discount of $1,094.

Redfin’s analysis:

Homes that hit the market Thursday typically sell faster and for more money, with almost one in five getting above asking price. Homes listed on Thursdays in April do even better, with 21 percent going for above asking price.

On average, homes listed on Thursday get $2,352 more than houses listed on a Sunday. A typical $500,000 house will fetch about $2,830 more if it’s listed on a Thursday instead of a Sunday. Yet only 18 percent of sellers list on Thursday.

Homes listed toward the end of the work week, when buyers are preparing for their weekend of home touring and open-house hopping, tend to fare the best overall. Nearly 30 percent of homes go up for sale on Saturday, Sunday or Monday, the worst days of the week when it comes to fetching a premium price. Sunday has the worst track record, with homes going for above asking price only 16 percent of the time.

Top 10: Biggest Palm Beach County brokers by agent count


Old-school Miami broker Keyes Co. has the most real estate agents in Palm Beach County with 532, followed closely by Coldwell Banker Residential Real Estate’s 493 and Illustrated Properties Real Estate’s 457.

That’s according to our data dive into real estate licenses issued by the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation. The license list was last updated March 12.

The biggest surprise? United Realty Group, a so-called 100 percent company based in Plantation. Its 382 agents rank fourth-largest in Palm Beach County. (United Realty’s growth has brought some unwanted attention, too, in the form of a federal trademark suit filed this year by United Country Real Estate.)

Another intriguing reality: Real estate remains a highly fragmented industry. There are some 20,000 real estate licensees in Palm Beach County, and the largest firm holds less than 3 percent of the licenses.