Job growth? Check. High-paying job growth? Uhhhh


Robust job growth is a strong point for Florida. High-tech job growth? Not so much.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce released its Enterprising States report Tuesday morning, and there are no surprises in a study that identifies the usual hits and misses for Florida’s economy.

Florida’s strengths: Florida ranks in the top 10 in two-year job growth, tax climate, college affordability and share of high school students taking advanced placement tests. The state nabs top 10 spots in 13 of the 35 categories the Chamber analyzed.

Florida’s weaknesses: The Sunshine State lands in the bottom half for income growth, income, high-tech jobs and cost of living. Florida is an also-ran in 17 of the survey’s 35 categories.

Florida’s leaders have desperately tried to turn the notoriously low-wage state into a California-style innovation hub, spending more than $1.5 billion to lure biotech institutes in recent years.

At new apartment complex, no smoking, no vaping — even outside

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

The new Quaye at Palm Beach Gardens apartment complex welcomes dogs, cats and hamsters. One thing it can’t abide: smoking (or even vaping) by tenants or guests, anywhere on the grounds.

Landlord HG Management of Tampa says the no-smoking policy is part of the complex’s effort to go green. The ban extends to vaping, although there’s no rule against chewing tobacco, said Nancy Cribb, regional manager for HG Management.

She calls the smoking ban a selling point: Tenants don’t want to catch a whiff of their neighbors’ sidestream fumes.

“They won’t have to sit on their patio and smell smoke,” Cribb says.

Cribb also expects tenants will rat out scofflaws.

“Everyone’s policing everyone else,” she says.

Tenants begin moving into the Quaye on Thursday. Rents at the 340-unit complex range from $1,490 for a one-bedroom apartment to $2,510 for a four-bedroom unit.

See how much Port St. Lucie prices could rise this year


Port St. Lucie rarely is mentioned in the same breath as San Francisco, San Jose, Denver and Seattle, but here’s an exception: Port St. Lucie is projected to rank fourth in home-price appreciation over the next year.

Veros Real Estate Solutions predicts U.S. home values will appreciate by 3.6 percent over the next year. The top five markets:

  1. San Francisco: 10.7 percent
  2. San Jose: 10.5 percent
  3. Denver: 10.3 percent
  4. Port St. Lucie: 10.0 percent
  5. Seattle: 9.5 percent

Wichita Falls, Texas, is projected to be the weakest market, with a 1.9 percent decline.

New record: Manalapan mansion sells for $33 million


The oceanfront estate at 800 S. Ocean Blvd. sold this week for $33 million, a new record for a house in Manalapan. [Note: This item originally published in September 2015.]

It’s not Manalapan’s priciest deal ever, though. Mansion builder Frank McKinney in 2005 paid $42.5 million for 8.8 acres of vacant land along the ocean.

The newly built palace includes 15,000 square feet of air conditioned space, two fireplaces, two pools and a tennis court. Jim McCann of Corcoran Group was the listing agent. The property was most recently listed at $34.9 million.

UPDATE: The buyer is NNCID, a Delaware company. A $20 million mortgage on the property is signed by Jim Perkins of Worldwide Management.

The Shiny Sheet has more details on the deal.

Amid FTC scrutiny, questions about Staples-Office Depot merger


Federal trust busters continue to examine the proposed marriage of Staples and Office Depot, and the scrutiny has hurt shares of Boca Raton-based Office Depot.

A loss for shareholders could be a win for Palm Beach County’s economy. If the Federal Trade Commission approves the deal, the region would lose a Fortune 500 headquarters.

The Wall Street Journal reports today that the FTC’s slow decision has made the merger look less likely:

The antitrust review is continuing and the commission hasn’t yet decided whether to approve or challenge the merger, according to several other people familiar with the matter. The commission has until mid-October to decide, though that deadline could be extended if the companies give the FTC more time. …

Investors have lingering questions about whether the combination will pass muster. Office Depot shares are trading at a roughly 25% discount to the proposed deal price. Staples is offering to pay $7.25 in cash plus 0.2188 of its shares for each Office Depot share. The deal values Office Depot at about $10.35 a share versus its current price of $7.64.

Office Depot’s only comment about the increased scrutiny is a cryptic press release.

As Palm Beach County prices bounce back, fewer homes underwater

IMG_0321-0In the dark days of the housing crash, fully 44 percent on Palm Beach County homeowners owed more than their houses wre worth. Now, though, the percentage of underwater homeowners has dropped to 13.7 percent, according to Zillow.

Condos remained more likely than houses to be underwater in South Florida in the second quarter, Zillow says.

See how much Burt Reynolds slashed his asking price to sell his mansion


After marketing his Tequesta estate for years, Tinseltown icon Burt Reynolds finally sold the property at 16815 SE Federal Highway.

The home fetched $3.3 million — way off the $15 million Reynolds originally listed the house for, and well below the latest asking price of $4.9 million. Listing agent Douglas Rill of Century 21 America’s Choice Realty declined to comment.

» Related: Burt Reynolds honored as a “Legend”

Why such a steep discount? Listing photos posted on last year showed decor, counters and wall coverings that date to the Cannonball Run era.

“The house is in disrepair, greatly so, and it’s a big house, so it’s going to cost a lot to fix,” said buyer’s agent John Sanders of Golden Bear Realty.

Sanders wouldn’t name the buyer, and a deed hadn’t been recorded as of Tuesday afternoon. The sale closed Thursday.

Reynolds paid $700,000 for the property back in 1980. The long, skinny 3.4-acre parcel is bordered by the Intracoastal Waterway to the east, Jonathan Dickinson State Park to the north and U.S. 1 to the west.

Martin County’s property appraiser pegs the property’s value at $3.4 million, while Zillow said it was worth $6.4 million. Built in 1975, the 12,500-square-foot house hadn’t been updated in years, said Realtors familiar with the property.

Reynolds, of course, is a Palm Beach County native who appeared in Deliverance, Smokey and the Bandit and Boogie Nights, among other films.


Great Recession left Millennials scared of credit cards, survey finds


More than a third of millennials — a generation shaped by the worst economic collapse in decades — have never used a credit card, according to a new report by

“Millennials have come of age in the Great Recession, and the really awful job market that goes along with it,” said Matt Schulz, senior analyst at, a division of North Palm Beach-based Bankrate.

Many millennials have opted instead to use prepaid cards or debit cards — which come with neither the pitfalls nor benefits associated with credit cards.

How will millennials’ reluctance to use credit cards now affect their ability to borrow later in life? That depends, said Jeff Scott, spokesman for Fair Isaac, which produces the widely used FICO credit scores.

“There are so many factors that it’s impossible to give a general rule of thumb,” Scott said. “The best advice is to pay all your bills on time every month.”

Building a credit history helps boost your FICO score. But taking out credit before you’re able to manage it will tank your score.

For a consumer-driven economy that’s fueled in large part by car loans, mortgages and credit card purchases, a generation’s changing habits could create sweeping change.

“One of the big unanswered questions around this is will millennials, as they age, move toward credit cards?” Schulz said. “Or is this more of a generational shift?” notes that it’s not as easy for young millennials to get credit cards as it was for older millennials and Gen X, whose members were wooed by relentless marketing efforts. The 2009 CARD Act, which limited marketing to young people, requires consumers younger than 21 to show proof of income, or to have an adult co-signer.

The survey also finds a sharp divide between rural and urban/suburban Americans. Just 46 percent of country folk say someone should get their first credit card before age 25, compared to 70 percent of urban dwellers. And 9 percent of rural Americans say you should never sign up for a credit card, compared to only 2 percent of city folk.


Will Allen calls Jack Johnson deadbeat, Johnson calls Allen loan shark

jack-johnsonIn a soap operatic financial saga, former NFL player Will Allen lost big on a loan to current NHL player Jack Johnson.

The loan plays a major role in the Securities and Exchange Commission’s civil suit, unsealed today, that accuses Allen of running a Ponzi scheme. Johnson, for his part, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection last year.

Allen, a former Miami Dolphin who lives in Davie, was deposed last year in Palm Beach County as part of his lawsuit against Johnson. Allen said he began doing business with Johnson in 2012, during the NHL lockout.

Allen said he first loaned $250,000 to Johnson and charged his standard origination fee of 3 percent, or $7,500.

“I don’t remember him making any payments at all,” Allen said in the deposition.

Even so, Allen agreed to make a larger loan of $1.4 million to Johnson at a one-month interest rate of 12 percent — even though the financially troubled Johnson’s credit score had plunged 100 points.

“I kind of started, to be honest, feeling, not sorry, but like feeling like, you know, we can help him and we can make 12 percent,” Allen said. “I mean, why not, you know.”

During the deposition, Johnson’s attorney, Michael Furbush of Orlando, seized on the steep interest rate, which he said violates Florida’s usury law. After all, 12 percent in one month equates to 144 percent for the year, Furbush said.

“Do you understand that the rate being charged on the $1.4 million loan is illegal under Florida law?” Furbush asked.

“Don’t answer the question,” said Allen’s attorney, Mark Heinish of Boca Raton.

Florida’s usury statute limits annual interest rates to 18 percent on loans of $500,000 or less. For loans of more than $500,000, the maximum rate is 25 percent.

The SEC says the loan amount to Johnson later ballooned to $3.4 million — but Allen told investors the amount was $5.6 million.

Florida loses population for the first time since 1946

fl_population081809A fast-growing state no longer, Florida lost population from 2008 to 2009, the University of Florida Bureau of Economic and Business Research says.

About 58,000 people left the state, leaving Florida with an estimated population of 18.7 million, said Stan Smith, head of the Bureau of Economic and Business Research. Smith blamed the twin banes of Florida’s economy: a soaring jobless rate and a hapless housing market.

For decades, Florida was adding jobs, which lured migrants. But the state has shed jobs in the past year, and the unemployment rate has soared from 3 percent in 2006 to 10.6 percent in June.

Meanwhile, the national housing downturn has made out-of-state migrants less likely to move here.

“When people can’t sell their homes, they tend not to move,” Smith said.

He doesn’t expect Florida to become a fast-growing state again in the near future.

“This is certainly the worst recession that the country has experienced since the Depression of the 1930s,” Smith said. “We’re not going to see much of a population rebound until the national economy strengthens significantly.”

UF’s full population report, with detailed estimates for counties and cities, is scheduled to be released Wednesday. Continue reading “Florida loses population for the first time since 1946”