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.
Inside, however, plans are to brighten the 515 N. Flagler Dr. tower with a $10 million upgrade.
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.
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.
Present at the glamfest were Trump, his wife, Melania, and The Donald’s daughter, Ivanka.
Ivanka and Trump sat for television interviews and chatted with print reporters about the Intracoastal Waterway project.
Despite the hype (and the sushi), the project’s timing wasn’t great: The recession’s cold winds already were starting to blow as the demand for condominiums slowly sank, then cratered.
By October 2007, Trump acknowledged to this reporter that the real estate market was looking iffy. “The market in West Palm Beach is not exactly great-looking,” Trump said. “We won’t go forward unless we see a robust market.”
When pressed for details about Trump Tower Palm Beach sales, Trump was vague: ” “We’ve done very well with pre-sales. We’ve had substantial sales,” he said. “There’s no reason to be specific.”
But a Related executive gave some hints in June 2007. At that point, less than half the project’s 150 units had sold (prices ranged from $900,000 to $2.4 million). Developers were shooting for at least 60 percent, or about 90 units, before starting construction. But that didn’t happen and the condo wasn’t built.
Now it’s a decade later and there’s a new real estate boom.
And Related Group still is building condos on Flagler Drive, but a little farther south, at the Rybovich Marina.
The company also built a number of apartments and condominiums in West Palm Beach’s downtown, including CityPlace South Tower, The Slade, The Prado and the Tower Condominium at CityPlace. The Related Group’s most recent Palm Beach County project is an apartment complex in Delray Beach.
In fact, “a big group went to the Seagate Hotel in Delray Beach because they didn’t want to deal” with the traffic and the hassle of Palm Beach, Greene said.
The Secret Service effectively closed off a portion of Palm Beach near Mar a Lago during the weekend while Trump was in town. West Palm Beach wasn’t much better on Saturday: Trump protesters clogged the waterfront along Flagler Drive.
Other Palm Beach businesses, including some restaurants, lost reservations, too, said Greene, a Palm Beach resident who lives at 1200 S. Ocean Blvd., “two doors down” from Mar a Lago, which is at 1100 S. Ocean Blvd.
(In truth, these are very big doors: The property just south of Mar a Lago is the Bath and Tennis Club, followed by Greene’s $24 million oceanfront estate.)
Laurel Baker, executive director of the Palm Beach Chamber of Commerce, said she’s aware some tourists were having a hard time getting back to their Palm Beach hotels with the security checkpoints and roadblocks.
And shopping on Worth Avenue? Some tourists were afraid to try: “People don’t want to be inconvenienced. They’ll shop elsewhere,” she said.
Baker said she’s now wondering how life in the future will be affected by Trump’s visits to Palm Beach.
For instance: The Palm Beach Boat Show, set for March 23-26.
Although the actual show only lasts a weekend, the set up takes considerably more time. The week before and the week after, a number of yachts cruise into the Intracoastal and go right by Mar a Lago.
If Trump were to fly down to Palm Beach during this time period, boats would be forbidden from cruising on the eastern side of the Intracoastal Waterway that runs near Trump’s “winter White House.”
Baker said she figured with Mar a Lago booked for 25 events this season, Trump was going to skip his winter visits because of the tight security that surrounds him.
But that’s evidently not going to be the case, she said.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The 10-story, 110,000-square-foot office building overlooks the Intracoastal Waterway at 625 N. Flagler Drive.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.