Thursday, December 18, 2014

RESIDENTIAL FINALLY COMING TO ROYAL PALM PLACE?


RESIDENTIAL FINALLY COMING TO ROYAL PALM PLACE?

Now is certainly the time to revive old development or redevelopment projects that got shelved due to the recession. Even more so if it is a residential project. So it shouldn’t be a surprise to learn that the prospect of residential units at Royal Palm Place is alive and well once again. This was approved in 2003 for 149 units and 10 stories. But this time it is even bigger and more dense than before, at 200 units and 13 stories. It will be at least 140 feet high, which is 40 feet higher than the city limit of 100 feet. This adds to 4 other projects that are over the limit that have already been approved: Via Mizner, The Mark At Cityscape, 20 East Boca Raton Rd., and the Hyatt Place Hotel Boca Raton. All of these projects have 2 things in common. One is the residential component and the other is the fact that they will be transforming the skyline of Boca Raton. If you have ever flown into Florida it is impossible to miss the rows and rows of high rise residential buildings along the water in Miami. Is that where Boca Raton ends up? It will depend on how many more of these projects are allowed and where they are allowed. Is it is a bad thing to grow so much and so quickly as a city? The concern mentioned is always “quality of life”, which is ambiguous to say the least. Traffic is my only concern and that can be managed if done properly. I think little old Boca is finally growing up and looks more promising than ever. What do you think? As always thanks for reading and have a great day.

New proposal would add to Boca's downtown skyline

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

FLORIDA’S SENIORS BY THE NUMBERS


FLORIDA’S SENIORS BY THE NUMBERS

While sometimes it seems like Florida is getting younger and more international, and it is, there is still a huge and growing number of seniors here. While you probably already know this, I think the numbers might surprise you. They surprised me. I am going to rattle off some good ones: Florida is the number 1 destination in the U.S. for seniors, with 112,000 moving to Florida from other states in 2013. Palm Beach County is one of twelve counties in the U.S. to have 250,000 residents who are 65 or older. 1 in 20 Floridians is 80 or older, which is 1 million people out of almost 19 million. By 2030 the Florida senior population will double to almost 10 million. These people vote, drive, pay taxes and are a big economic force. Plus regardless of their age, they must feel like they get younger just by coming here because there are always older people than them. In Florida being 70 or 80 is like being 60 somewhere else. It is like Jay Z said, 30 is the new 20 but times 2 or 3 here. And they are a look at the future, where we will all go if we should live long enough. When I first moved to Florida I thought that the seniors were both dangerous (driving) and maddening (ever wait in a line behind one?). But once the recession hit in 2008 I realized how important they were to the economy and how helpful they can be. Could there be an election without them? Both voting and manning the voting locations? How many of them are unofficial caretakers of children here? Yes typically those are their grandchildren but without them how would the parents work who cannot afford childcare? Yes the elderly fill many roles here and there is so much more they can do. And with retirement becoming a thing of the past, they will. Seniors here are more active and busy than seniors anywhere else in the country I bet. Partly due to the weather and lifestyle but also the amount of opportunities here. Have you ever seen an elderly person working at a supermarket anywhere else in the country? And most are doing so because they want to, not because they need the money. For us younger Floridians it is just another reason to never leave. I guess you can tell that I love Florida! As always thanks for reading and have a great day.

Florida can’t care for all of its frailest seniors
Yet the elderly are still pouring into Florida — far outpacing other states

Friday, December 12, 2014

SOUTHWEST AIRLINES EAGERLY EXPANDING AT FT. LAUDERDALE AIRPORT


SOUTHWEST AIRLINES EAGERLY EXPANDING AT FT. LAUDERDALE AIRPORT

Once the Ft. Lauderdale Airport renovations and expansions are complete in 2017, Southwest Airlines will be able to expand with new domestic and international flights. Already the number 2 airline carrier there with 18.5% of traffic through August of this year, Southwest is eyeing new international flights. While they haven’t announced any specific international routes yet, they are currently travelling to Cancun and Los Cabos, Mexico; Montego Bay, Jamaica; San Jose, Costa Rica from other East Coast airports. It is reported that Southwest is looking to add at least 25 daily international flights to South America and the Caribbean. Given the new added international South American routes by Ft. Lauderdale Airport competitors JetBlue and Spirit Airlines, it is clear there is a lot of growth in this area to be had. Southwest has also identified a growing need between Texas (Southwest’s current hub is here at Dallas Love Field) and Ft. Lauderdale, and just started 2 flights per day between these areas. As South Florida’s economy improves and the international economy continues to struggle, we have become an even more attractive destination for our international neighbors to the South. I am sure that Southwest is thinking that if Spirit Airlines is having success with these routes now Southwest should be able to do even more business there since they have far superior service (among other things). This is not good news for Spirit indeed. But more competition is good for consumers and we Floridians will benefit from all the increased routes by seeing lower prices and more destination options. Not just from lower prices from competition but also from the now standard lower fuel prices. I have always wanted to visit South America and soon it will be easy and relatively inexpensive to do so from Ft. Lauderdale. And wait until you see what the airport is going to look like when the work is complete, it is going to be something to behold. As always, thanks for reading and have a great day.  

Southwest Airlines plans growth at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood airport

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

SAWGRASS MILLS MALL EXPANDING YET AGAIN


SAWGRASS MILLS MALL EXPANDING YET AGAIN

If there was a fairy who could make a mall that would never lose money, appeal to everyone, and expand indefinitely, I think they would make the Sawgrass Mills Mall. It is considered to be the 2nd most visited tourist destination in Florida. This is really incredible in a state known for Disney, beaches and the Everglades. And they don’t even have any entertainment there like the newer malls do. No, people go to Sawgrass Mills to “power” shop, which means straight shopping. This time they are adding 30 new tenants (on top of the existing 350), a combination of stores and restaurants. The new space will total 80,000 square feet and be in the Colonnade Outlets area, which is geared toward luxury shoppers. It is expected to be completed in 2016. That an outlet mall would appeal to the masses makes plenty of sense but I don’t think anyone imagined the incredible success of the luxury area. There is a waiting list of tenants who want to be in the Sawgrass Mills Mall and I think that as long as the land is available they could continue expanding successfully forever. One area of success that is growing rapidly is the appeal to the South American shopper, which was already very strong. Travel agents report scheduling entire trips around the mall visits. Every South American finds that they can buy any kind of product here for far less than they can at home. This has boosted sales at the travel stores at the Mall since many of these people must buy more luggage to accommodate their purchases. The added international flights from South America lately have only made it easier for them to come and shop here. But there is really something for everyone here, for example, I even go there on occasion. I am really the anti-shopper, don’t enjoy it at all. But when I need something that is somewhat pricey, from anything from shoes to suits, that is where I go to buy them. There is a great selection of quality stuff at super low prices. Congrats to the mall, for both their new expansion and the great job they do out there in Sunrise. As always thanks for reading and have a great day.

Sawgrass Mills to add 30 shops and restaurants

Monday, December 8, 2014

CORAL SPRINGS ALSO TRYING TO CREATE DOWNTOWN


CORAL SPRINGS ALSO TRYING TO CREATE DOWNTOWN

It is just sheer coincidence that this article appeared within weeks of the one about Coconut Creek and their downtown hopes. Clearly it is a good time out there to get moving on long planned downtowns for some cities. Another one of those is Coral Springs, who has been working on their downtown plan for 20 years. They think they have finally found the correct formula: a hotel, a movie theater, a garage and lots of apartments at the intersection of Sample Rd. and University Drive. Not surprisingly, the company behind the new development is Amera Urban Developers, who built or owns the properties at the center of the plan. I got a small twinge of pride when they mentioned that they were modeling their movie theater after the iPic Theater in Boca Raton, with the same amenities such as reclining chairs, blankets and pillows, and ordering food and drink from your seats. They plan for “high end” rental apartments on each of the 4 corners of the intersection of Sample Rd. and University Drive. The city would build a multi-story garage, which would cost millions but could help spur development. It is an ambitious plan for sure, and I really hope it works for them. But a lot of things don’t add up, and I hope that they closely examine them before finalizing the plans. The words “high end” and Coral Springs do not go together in any way at this point, what is going to change to make this appealing to this new demographic? Coral Springs is known for young parents who come for the quality public schools and they move from the city when their kids get older. One of the goals is to keep them in the city, while also attracting older adults. While they are trying to create an urban feeling with the plan, I don’t think anyone is ever going to confuse Coral Springs for Miami or Delray Beach. I wish them the best with it and will report on any new information about the project. As always thanks for reading and have a great day.

Coral Springs downtown closer to gaining traction


Thursday, December 4, 2014

JEFF GREENE IS AT IT AGAIN, BETTING HEAVILY ON WEST PALM BEACH


JEFF GREENE IS AT IT AGAIN, BETTING HEAVILY ON WEST PALM BEACH

There are 2 interesting things in this article, both dealing with West Palm Beach. It is a very natural 2 for 1 blog, First we have Jeff Greene, buying more property in West Palm Beach to be developed into residential units. This time he has bought the 1.8 acre former Mazda site at 2001 S. Dixie Highway for $1.9 million. While he has officially said he is not sure what the use will be here, everything he has done in the past and the market dictate it will be residential product built here. He is very focused now (speaking of his past) on Clematis Place, a 200 unit residential and mixed use property between Datura Street and Rosemary Avenue. There will be 2 buildings built here, one 5 stories and the other 12 with a bridge connecting the two. If people ever start moving to West Palm Beach this guy is going to make out like a bandit. Seems like he owns half of it too. Now onto the 2nd article, regarding another restaurant closure at CityPlace. This time it is Pampas Churrascaria Brazilian Grille, who occupied 10,000 SF on the 2nd floor where the majority of the restaurants are located. This is the 2nd restaurant this company has closed at CityPlace this year, the first being Deck’s Fish Market. This virtually assures that this space will be vacant for the Winter season, which is a shame. While not original, I think that CityPlace should put a big carrousel in the middle of it to draw kids and families like they did at Downtown At The Gardens. They have to try something new to breathe some life into this project and stop the never ending parade of tenants from coming and going. Hopefully it will happen soon and the opening of the convention hotel across the street will help, but it is not going to solve all the problems there. The question is, what will? As always thanks for reading and have a great day.

Palm Beach billionaire now dealing in Dixie (Highway, that is)

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

CAN COCONUT CREEK CREATE A DOWNTOWN? THEY HAVE A PLAN

CAN COCONUT CREEK CREATE A DOWNTOWN? THEY HAVE A PLAN

I have always been fascinated by all the different cities within Palm Beach and Broward Counties. I have gotten to know almost all of them through my work representing landlords and tenants. It always amazed me how one city could thrive while the neighbor could struggle and they be so different despite being next to each other. Well with all this newfound prosperity and development taking place in South Florida now, Coconut Creek has come up with an ambitious plan to create a downtown area. One where people could walk to work, shop, dine, etc. The city set aside 430 acres of land between Lyons Rd., Wiles Rd., Sample Rd. and State Rd. 7 and dubbed it Mainstreet. This actually took place in 2004 and since then the city has made progress on their plan. The lifestyle center The Promenade at Coconut Creek was built, and the Seminole Casino has been improved. A hotel was built. Now there are some major projects coming online that could accelerate the Mainstreet plan. The Midtown Residences, to be built on 441 between Lyons and Sample Rds., will feature 308 residential units in 7 buildings. The long stalled and 19 acre Village at Marbella is about to be developed. That will feature 764 residential units, a 10 story hotel and 300,000 square feet of retail and office space. It is exciting to see the city being transformed and I wish them the best with it moving forward. With all the new interest in residential development I think their time is now. Especially if they could build some affordable housing, which is getting tougher and tougher to find. As always thanks for reading and have a great day.

Coconut Creek's MainStreet moving forward

Monday, November 24, 2014

FT. LAUDERDALE AIRPORT’S $2.3 BILLION DOLLAR MAKEOVER


FT. LAUDERDALE AIRPORT’S $2.3 BILLION DOLLAR MAKEOVER

This is very exciting news to me. Growing up in New York City, I was used to the bland, dirty airports at LaGuardia and JFK that didn’t offer much in the way of restaurants or anything else. So when I moved here I thought that both the Palm Beach and Ft. Lauderdale airports were much better since they had some decent restaurant choices. Now we are going to be leading the way for airports with this new $2.3 billion dollar makeover which will take 3 years. Passengers will have great options to eat, shop and relax when it is completed. The 80 new restaurants even feature some of our local successful eateries such as Rocco’s Tacos, Canyon Tapas & Bar and Casavana Restaurant. This airport improvement comes at an exciting time, with all sorts of growth taking place in South Florida. I just posted yesterday about plans for two 93 story tower buildings that will be built in Downtown Miami. They will be the tallest buildings South of Manhattan and reflect the change that is taking place in South Florida now. We are finally becoming a major destination for business as well as tourism, more like a New York, Chicago, etc. We have plenty of room for improvement but are well on our way and now we will have an airport that we can all be proud of. It seems like everything is getting bought, cleaned up, redeveloped and sold these days so why should the airport be any different? Will this put some pressure on Palm Beach Int’l Airport to follow suit to be competitive? Regardless, it is all good and I think you will be impressed with the new terminal plan. Check it out. As always thanks for reading and have a great day.

A flier's delight: Lauderdale airport to offer 80 new eateries, shops


Thursday, November 20, 2014

BOCA RATON TO INCREASE INTERNATIONAL AIR TRAFFIC WITH OWN U.S. CUSTOMS AREA


BOCA RATON TO INCREASE INTERNATIONAL AIR TRAFFIC WITH OWN U.S. CUSTOMS AREA

Boca Raton’s cache grew a little larger with the news that it would soon be getting its own U.S. Customs inspection area at the Boca Raton airport. This means that Boca Raton business travelers and residents who fly internationally had to go one of the other area airports before being allowed to Boca. No longer once this is built, which could be anywhere from 2016 to 2018. That depends on who contributes what to the total $3 million dollar cost. The idea of building the customs area in Boca had been discussed for years. I wonder why it finally came to pass? The idea is that it makes the area more attractive to companies who fly internationally, so they might want to set up offices here. It also makes the area more appealing to high net worth individuals who might want to buy a home here. I think it will accomplish both, and it certainly sets the city apart from other highly desirable places in the county like Palm Beach, Wellington Palm Beach Gardens, etc. Finally, safety was even mentioned as a benefit since most accidents take place when planes are taking off or landing. This will reduce the need for flights to have to stop elsewhere for customs, reducing the total amount of flights. This just makes Boca Raton an even more attractive place for people to live and work, which is all good. I think my house just increased in value? As always, thanks for reading and have a great day.

Boca lays out plan to land international flights at airport

Monday, November 17, 2014

SPRING TRAINING BASEBALL UPDATE: $108 MILLION IN FINANCING AWARDED


SPRING TRAINING BASEBALL UPDATE: $108 MILLION IN FINANCING AWARDED

You were probably wondering what was going on, why there was no update here even though the “final” vote on the new spring training baseball stadium was held on October 21. I have been busy and there is no finality here one way or the other. But progress was made, in the form of $108 million in financing being approved by the Palm Beach County Commission. But the site that was the first choice at 45th St. in West Palm Beach is no longer a certainty. West Palm Beach is considering another proposal and won’t respond on this for another 90 days. So while not ruled out, the teams are seeking another site now. All the previous sites are back in play except for the John Prince Park site in Lake Worth. It is really hard for me to believe that West Palm Beach could be close to losing this deal, due to their own actions. This is a once in a lifetime chance to create a year round tourist attraction that would replace a longtime blighted area. How every single person in the city is not jumping on this opportunity is just incredible. While I am rooting for them, I have to dream about this happening just a few miles from my house at Glades Rd. West of 441 in West Boca Raton. Now that the financing is approved things should move quickly now and finally reach a conclusion. It is looking good for spring training baseball in South Florida right now, because once this deal happens the existing teams in the area will renew their leases. Should be another update soon. As always thanks for reading and have a great day.  

Baseball teams get $108 million, still need a site —in west Palm Beach County?


Friday, November 14, 2014

ROSENFELD RESTAURANT REVIEW: LA FERME & M.E.A.T. EATERY & TAPROOM


ROSENFELD RESTAURANT REVIEW: LA FERME  & M.E.A.T. EATERY & TAPROOM

We are bringing back the ever popular 2 for 1 restaurant blog, and have a real study in contrast with these 2 places. Let’s start with La Ferme. This is the old Bistro Gastronomie space in West Boca Raton. That was the very high end restaurant that lasted only 6 months, dashing the hopes of area residents who hoped for a high end restaurant of their own. But it was reborn as La Ferme, and the décor is exactly the same. They now have the highly acclaimed chef John Bellame, who was voted best chef in Palm Beach County when he was with Stephane’s. The prices are still high but we came with high hopes as well. The service was great, and even the managers were very kind and attentive. I started with the French Onion soup, which was good. I then had the duck, which came with a confit leg and breast. The leg was awesome but the breast wasn’t great. I told the manager this (since they stopped by to ask) and they agreed with me. That led to some free deserts. My wife had the scallops, which were grilled and on top of some tasty green vegetables that I couldn’t identify. It was excellent. They had no children’s dishes, but were able to improvise and get the macaroni from the mac & cheese with just butter and all was good for my little one. That being said, it is really easy and inexpensive to have kid’s options available and they should certainly have some given their West Boca location where there are many families. The deserts were a hazelnut chocolate cake and an apple tart. The tart was OK, and the cake was not good. It was the only chocolate cake they had, a huge mistake in my opinion. Clearly they are still ironing things out there but the food was good and we will give them another chance.

M.E.A.T. is located in an office building on Federal Highway in Boca. It is a very tiny place, but has lot of seating options in the atrium area and sort of bar like seating. They had an impressive array of tap beers and some nice big screen TV’s. My client was looking for a burger and I had heard some good things about this place which was close to his office. Not only do they make fresh burgers and their own sausage, they also have a smoker and make their own BBQ meats. I had the turkey burger and duck fat fries. The burger was great, although very small (5 oz.) and with lettuce that I didn’t want or ask for. The fries were awesome, very crispy. They make their own condiments which were good too. My client had a regular burger and cole slaw. He liked it but thought it was just OK. The question is how can these guys get enough people in here to make it? They have good food but a very strange location. Next time I will give the BBQ a try. I wish both of these restaurants the best and look forward to going back to both. As always thanks for reading and have a great day.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

FLORIDA’S POPULATION GROWS WITH THE IMPROVING ECONOMY


FLORIDA’S POPULATION GROWS WITH THE IMPROVING ECONOMY

It seems like people are once again flocking to the Sunshine State now that our economy is recovering. In addition to all the New Yorkers that always move here (50,000 per annum!), we have a more diverse international crowd joining them. There are 140,000 more foreign born people here from 2010 – 2013. Florida has seen in net gain in population of 84% from 2012-2013 than in the previous 2 years. It breaks down to about 700 more people moving here a day. In addition, retirees are again moving here in force, from all over the country. Younger American people are being drawn by our beautiful weather, lifestyle and improving economy. Yes, everyone seems to want to live in Florida again. And we still lead the nation in most cash sales for residences, fueled mainly by foreign money seeking a safe haven in the U.S. Then there is the indirect influx of foreign capital flowing here in the form of the EB-5 visa program which is being used to build both commercial and residential projects. That program is based on money from other countries finding investments in the U.S. in exchange for visas. Just the other day we wrote about the Fashion Mall in Plantation, which is owned by the Chinese Government, although not for much longer. But we are seeing more and more money from Asia, especially China, flowing into Florida. And we have not even mentioned South America! Florida is seeing more Brazilians, Cubans, Columbians, Venezuelans, and Nicaraguans than ever before. The turmoil in these countries is causing both people and capital to flee to the safe, sunny shores of Florida. It is all of a sudden becoming a true melting pot in South Florida, something that is very new and welcomed by most. While this element always existed in Miami to some extent, it has certainly spread to Broward and Palm Beach counties in a big way. More and more restaurants, stores, clubs, etc. are emerging all over to meet the demands of this newly transplanted population. It is very exciting and will certainly continue as long as our economy stays strong and vibrant. Everyone is living the dream now! As always thanks for reading and have a great day.


Florida population surging again

Monday, November 10, 2014

PLANTATION FASHION MALL GOES INTO BANKRUPTCY AGAIN


PLANTATION FASHION MALL GOES INTO BANKRUPTCY AGAIN

Here we go again! I promised another update on this when it came around and I am a man of my word. These guys just filed for bankruptcy again, this time Chapter 7. It really seems like the property will finally go to auction, 10 years after it was bought. Why do I care about this property? It interests me for many reasons. It is one of the best locations in Plantation, and will certainly be successful if the right people are in place to redevelop it. It was all set to become apartments, retail and office space and I think that is what will eventually happen to this site. Part of the problems with this site was that it was owned by the Chinese Government. They had the right idea, to buy and develop a site in a prime location but never had the expertise to carry it out. They brought in brokerage companies, their own people, and other partners. But a combination of ineptitude, corruption, lack of trust in American companies and poor judgment finally brought them down. It just shows that having money is not everything, especially when it comes to real estate. Redeveloping a property, especially one of this size with multiple uses is no easy task for anyone, even more so for people from another country and with no experience. This prime site has been on sidelines but should attract an enormous amount of attention when it goes to auction. I can’t wait to see who gets it and what they do with it. This is a very good thing for the city of Plantation! While this is more than likely the end of the story for the property, there still could be legal issues, criminal cases and lawsuits, remaining. If there is any additional news on that I will provide it but let’s all hope this is the last we have heard on this one. Next we will be talking about the new owner and their plans for the property, something I have been looking forward to for a long time. As always thanks for reading and have a great day.

Fashion Mall developer seeks bankruptcy liquidation


Friday, November 7, 2014

GOOD NEWS FOR WEST PALM: EYESORE GOING TO AUCTION


GOOD NEWS FOR WEST PALM: EYESORE GOING TO AUCTION

Well after reluctantly penning 2 negative articles about West Palm (because I thought it was important news to report, not due to any bias! I like keeping things positive), I was really looking for some good news to trumpet. This is just that and then some. It is a real sleeper in my opinion. On the surface, it is just an article about another piece of land that was put in foreclosure long ago, that might be going to auction, removing an eyesore from the area. But under the surface there is much more. First, is the size of the land, 10 acres. That is a good bit of land, and it happens to be waterfront property as well. It is well located, West of downtown West Palm overlooking Clear Lake. Then there is the history, failed plans to convert it into a 12 story luxury condo building that fizzled in 2008. Since the bankruptcy was filled in 2006, the property has sat vacant and steadily deteriorated. I am going to go out on a limb here and predict great things for this land. It will be sold by auction, developed and it will be reborn as a shiny new residential property, hopefully with a marina component. The only downside is how much time it will take to get there, but you can’t have it all. This is excellent news and badly needed. With any luck it will be the first of many stories like this for West Palm, because eventually everyone’s luck must change. It is just the law of averages, everyone has to win sometime and West Palm’s time must be near given all the bad history. I am rooting hard for them, and will be reporting about it all, good or bad. As always thanks for reading and have a great day.  

West Palm Beach eyesore may go to auction


Wednesday, November 5, 2014

ROSEMURGY TO BUILD MORE STUDENT HOUSING BY FAU

ROSEMURGY TO BUILD MORE STUDENT HOUSING BY FAU

Sorry no picture with this article. It is one of the oldest sayings, going back to the well, if it ain’t broke don’t fix it, and other variations of the same message. I think that is fitting when it comes to Rosemurgy Properties and Giles Capital Group. Those are the guys who are building University Park, a 598 student apartment project at 135 N.W. 20th St. It was written about right here, and how the project would be an absolute home run. Perhaps these guys were reading since they just acquired 2 more properties in the area for the same purpose. Boca Sol and Addison Park, currently residential properties, were just bought by Rosemurgy and Giles for $8.7 million. Addison Park is already a student housing property with 165 apartments, and will be renamed University View. Boca Sol, is a 123 apartment building for non-students, is being converted to student housing and dubbed University Square. There will be free bus shuttle service from the properties to both FAU and Palm Beach State College campuses. Rosemurgy says it has $100 million dollars invested in this student housing operation, which unless FAU closes, really can’t fail. Whether or not it is affordable is another question, but finally it seems there will be an adequate stock of student housing. With the amazing growth they have had at FAU, it makes sense to finally have the proper infrastructure in the area to support it. In just the past 2 years we have seen the new football stadium, the Boca Bowl there, and now new student housing. What is next? I can’t wait to find out and promise to let you know when I do. As always thanks for reading and have a great day.

Student housing options increase near FAU

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

PALM BEACH OUTLETS NEW BIG BOXES TO COME AT OKEECHOBEE BLVD EXPENSE


PALM BEACH OUTLETS NEW BIG BOXES TO COME AT OKEECHOBEE BLVD EXPENSE

On the surface this seems like great news. The very successful Palm Beach Outlets, at Palm Beach Lakes Blvd. and I– 95, is growing already. Just 7 months after opening, it was announced that almost 12 new big boxes would be coming to the new project. Those retailers include T.J. Maxx, Ulta Beauty, and DSW Designer Shoe Warehouse along with many others. But 5 of them, Sports Authority, Old Navy, PetSmart, Pier 1 Imports and Bed Bath & Beyond will be relocating from their existing locations on Okeechobee Blvd. This is not good for Okeechobee Blvd. When I moved to South Florida in 2001, Okeechobee Blvd. was the place to go for shopping. It had everything you could need, all on one road, clean, safe and convenient. Okeechobee Blvd. has been going downhill steadily since then, with demographics changing, and retailers either going out of business or leaving the area. But there were still some big boxes there that you just couldn’t find anywhere else so there was still reason to go there. Now that they have left, what is remaining? I am afraid that this could become a new source of blight for West Palm unless some sort of plan to revitalize it is hatched. Sadly, it seems like déjà vu with the creation of City Place, which was supposed to be a great thing for the city but ended up competing against and crippling Clematis Street. There is a lot of work to do in West Palm, and that plate just got even heavier with this news. Given that almost every other city around it has managed to succeed, I am still hopeful they can eventually find their way. As always thanks for reading and have a great day.

Palm Beach Outlets adds big box stores to its mix


Friday, October 31, 2014

ANOTHER RESIDENTIAL REDEVELOPMENT IN FT. LAUDERDALE


ANOTHER RESIDENTIAL REDEVELOPMENT IN FT. LAUDERDALE

This time it is the former Ireland’s Inn located on the beach in Ft. Lauderdale. This is a good story and a great example of what is going in South Florida now. The Ireland Inn was built in 1965 at 2200 N. Ocean Blvd. In 2005 the hotel was damaged by hurricane Wilma and it closed in 2007. It has been closed since that time, deteriorating. Now the families who originally owned it are partnering with the Related Group to transform it into luxury condo property with 170 residencies. So another vacant, tired eyesore will soon become a gleaming new condo tower. When times are good, there is a shortage of land, and what there is becomes price prohibitive. So people look to see what they can reinvent / redevelop and this is happening all over the place right now. Every kind of product type is fair game, and you can literally see the differences in the landscape as you drive around. Properties from casinos, to multifamily to retail, you can see the improvements changing all around us as they are being upgraded. And it is all happening so quickly, seems like at least one new project announcement per day. Yes it is almost hard to see things ever going back down again, just like before. Since there is a lot more boom before the bust will come, people will just plow forward and do as much as they can while they can. It is exciting times, and I hope that we can manage the growth better this time around. Have people learned the lessons from just a few years ago? We will see as this story continues to quickly unfold. As always thanks for reading and have a great day.

Ireland's Inn to be redeveloped with Related Group luxury condos

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

WEST PALM BEACH TO LOSE 3 GROCERY STORES


WEST PALM BEACH TO LOSE 3 GROCERY STORES

West Palm, West Palm, West Palm. What are we going to do with you?? We have to find a way to get some good news for this city. Well there is the new Eat Scene coming to the outside of City Place, and I do know of a new Publix that will be coming to Belvedere Rd. eventually. But this is big and important news and we need to talk about it even though it is negative. South Florida’s economy is surging now, development and redevelopment projects abound and activity in all sectors is up. All over South Florida developers are eyeing vacant tracts of land, old projects that can be redeveloped and reborn. They are looking for bargains and municipalities that will work with them to allow lots of units for their projects, increasing their profits. But West Palm seems to be left out in all this and it is strange. They cannot give away their land and old dilapidated buildings on Broadway, and the blighted areas continue to worsen. That is what is happening right here with the closing of 3 Winn-Dixie grocery stores. They are all located in tough areas, and the residents there will suffer even more now that they won’t have access to a supermarket close to their homes. They will be forced to pay more for their groceries and possibly drive further to get them. 200 people lost their jobs, although some of them might be given jobs at other locations. Now the vote on the baseball stadium at 45th Street looms large. It is a once in a lifetime chance to erase the blight in that area if the project is approved. If not there is another proposal on the table that would be OK but certainly won’t be an attraction that will draw people to the area. It should be noted that despite all this bad news, Jeff Greene the billionaire, is buying up downtown West Palm as fast as he can with big plans to develop it. But that is the one area that really doesn’t need the help. Maybe the Federal Government can be called in to help. It might take something like that to help this city get back on the right track. As always thanks for reading and have a great day.

Grocery chain to close 3 Palm Beach County stores


Monday, October 27, 2014

PORT OF PALM BEACH GETTING NEW MULTI-DAY CRUISES TO BAHAMAS

 
PORT OF PALM BEACH GETTING NEW MULTI-DAY CRUISES TO BAHAMAS
The Port of Palm Beach looks like they will soon have a new operator, PV Enterprises, who will be doing multi-day trips to Nassau Bahamas. They have put a $50,000 deposit down and are in negotiations with the port for a cruise ship and parking facility. At the end of the day, there will be a new 600 foot long, 1,700 capacity passenger boat along with the Bahamas Celebration, a 1,250 passenger boat, that will be making two day cruises to Nassau and Freeport respectively, Bahamas. The new boat, for which no name is provided, is going to have some cool amenities such as buffet and a la carte restaurants, a casino, nightclubs, lounges, bars and even a kid’s play room. I think this is a great thing for people that live in Palm Beach county! I have never been to the Bahamas before and this seems like a great way to travel there, as long as the weather is good. I also like that some of the smaller ports like Port of Palm Beach are getting more business despite their not dredging and deepening their ports to accommodate larger vessels like PortMiami and Port Everglades are doing. No, they are going to stay small and hopefully fill a smaller vessel niche that can still work and be profitable. This is certainly a good start! Looking forward to seeing these cruises happening and to possibly taking one! As always thanks for reading and have a great day.
Riviera Beach port could get Nassau cruises

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

ROSENFELD RESTAURANT REVIEW – LA NOUVELLE MAISON & TASTE BUDS OF INDIA

ROSENFELD RESTAURANT REVIEW – LA NOUVELLE MAISON & TASTE BUDS OF INDIA

Nothing like setting history and that is what we are doing today folks. This is the first ever 2 for 1 restaurant blog! Always trying to provide extra value for all. Let’s begin with La Nouvelle Maison. This place is located in East Boca Raton right next to Trattoria Romana, who also owns this place. My friend who lives nearby said it was good so we decided to give it a try. It is a nice place, slightly on the stuffy side. While there were lots of waiters and busboys, the service was poor. The food was pretty good though. I got the French onion soup first, then the special which was filet of sole. Both were very good, although the fish had some bones. My mother had the duck, which she enjoyed. My father had the sole as well and the wife had a risotto with shrimp. I tried everything and it was good but honestly not good enough to return, especially for the prices which are high. My guess is they will do just fine getting the runoff from Trattoria Romana, and the same crowd will go to both places and not really care. Now the 2nd restaurant was much more interesting and far better. Taste Buds of India is located in Coral Springs. While somewhat hard to find, you will be glad you did once you get there. This place has the biggest menu I have ever seen at an Indian restaurant, I think it was 8 pages! They offer food from Northern and Southern India, as well as Chat, which is a Chinese Indian mixture. We had naan bread, lentil soup, a mixed chicken platter and a shrimp tikka. And an order of spicy cauliflower, lentil crackers and a chickpea dish. Everything was amazing and I really look forward to going back, which I have plans to do next week. If you are ever in the area do yourself a favor and give this place a try. It is open for lunch and dinner. Would love to hear about a great restaurant from you! Don’t be shy. As always thanks for reading and have a great day.

Friday, October 17, 2014

DOWNTOWN AT THE GARDENS SELLS FOR $142 MILLION


DOWNTOWN AT THE GARDENS SELLS FOR $142 MILLION

OK this is a great real estate story, what we in the business refer to as a home run. It begins with the Berman family, a super nice bunch from Maryland. They are fabulously rich, owning properties and businesses all over the place. They fell into this property, Downtown at the Gardens, which was a more or less failed lifestyle project off of PGA Blvd. in Palm Beach Gardens. They bought it for a song, for $38 million out of foreclosure, as it sold for $200 million in 2007. The property has a terrible design, with the anchor tenants on the outside and all the small shop tenants inside with no anchor tenants to draw people to them. The restaurants and anchor tenants did OK and the small retailers struggled. The first thing the Bermans did was put in a cool carousel to try to draw in children and families, which is exactly who lives in this area. Then through their own hard work, being on site and through shrewd deal making they leased it to almost full capacity. Sure enough the market turned around during all of this and low and behold they just sold it for $142 million dollars just 5 years after buying it for $38 million. This is a classic story of buying at a low point in the market and selling at a high point. And these are truly good people and I couldn’t be happier for them, not that they need the money! Congrats to the Berman family and I hope that they buy another property here in South Florida soon so I can see them again. As nice as they are, they have been adverse to fishing but I will keep trying. As always thanks for reading and have a great day.

Five years after foreclosure, Downtown at Gardens fetches $142 million

Monday, October 13, 2014

PALM BEACH’S LONG TIME TESTA’S RESTAURANT TO FINALLY BE REDEVELOPED?


PALM BEACH’S LONG TIME TESTA’S RESTAURANT TO FINALLY BE REDEVELOPED?

This has been a battle that has been going on for years. Since 2006 in fact, and it still is not over yet. It pits the Testa family, owners of the longtime (it is 93 years old!) Testa’s Restaurant on Royal Poinciana Way in Palm Beach against the Town Council of Palm Beach. Change and redevelopment in Palm Beach is rare and is not typically welcome. You can only imagine the Town Council’s horror when informed that the Testa family wanted to substantially change their 1.3 acre property which encompasses 221 and 231 Royal Poinciana Way, 214 Sunset Ave and 216 Sunset Ave. In all honesty, no one disputes the fact that it is necessary to renovate this property. The restaurant is 93 years old and needs a facelift, while there is a vacant gas station next store. This is something that is more than out of place in Palm Beach, it is almost insulting to have such a pedestrian use on The Island. You would think this fact alone would make them work more quickly on this project. As you can see above, a beautiful rendering was provided, showing the new proposed 2 story property. It would feature 6 residential condominium units, a courtyard, ground floor retail of 33,000 square feet (a combination of stores and restaurants including Testa’s of course!), and 34,618 square feet on the 2nd floor. That is where the residential units would be. There is even 47,331 square feet of underground parking, something that is extremely rare in Florida. But the devil in in the details as they say. After this long battle, the Testa’s are finally waiting for a site plan review and special exception and variance requests from their friends at the Town Council. But as you can imagine, they are far from being in agreement on the project. The article ends with a quote from Bill Cooley, they Landmarks Preservation Commission chairman, saying that he thinks the project is too big and “out of scale for this street.” Could this saga continue even longer?? We will find out soon since the next ruling is scheduled for Oct. 15th. You can look for the updates here. As always thanks for reading and have a great day.  

Testa family files new zoning application


Friday, October 10, 2014

PORT MIAMI LOOKING GOOD IN EXPANSION BET


PORT MIAMI LOOKING GOOD IN EXPANSION BET

With my newfound port fascination, there was no way I was letting this article get away. It is very well written and spells things out very clearly. Here is the deal in a nutshell. The expansion of the Panama Canal is almost 80% complete. When it is complete, larger ships with more cargo, etc. need places to port and those places must be deep enough to accommodate these big ships. In Florida, there is only Jacksonville and Port Everglades that want to get this new traffic but they do not have the necessary infrastructure in place yet. But PortMiami will and they are the closest major port to the Panama Canal. The rewards could be huge, which would make everyone forget about the large investments that were needed to get here. Port Everglades was the top container port in Florida last year but they haven’t even begun to deepen their channel yet, putting them way behind Miami. Ports from around the Eastern seaboard are competing with each other to modernize, deepen their channels and handle the new traffic coming from the South. As usual, the only real competitor in the area comes from Georgia, from the port in Savannah. It has been the 2nd largest container port on the East Coast and has a vast network of rail lines nearby to easily transport goods. It is unknown where they are in their quest to deepen their channel, which they are trying to do. This new era of being a major transportation port is almost upon us. I think it will significantly boost the economy and will even further our substantial business dealings with South America. It is very exciting and I think that Florida is well prepared to take advantage of this new nautical world. Stay tuned, there will be plenty more to come on this. As always thanks for reading and have a great day.

Miami is betting big that expansion of Panama Canal will bring in megaships


Monday, October 6, 2014

BOCA RATON MYSTERY AT SPANISH RIVER AND MILITARY FINALLY SOLVED

BOCA RATON MYSTERY AT SPANISH RIVER AND MILITARY FINALLY SOLVED

Well I tried and tried to find this article, which appeared Sunday in the Community section of the Sun Sentinel. On the first page no less but for some reason it doesn’t exist as far as Google is concerned! Well this one caught my eye because it is one of the few sites in Downtown Boca Raton that has not been developed yet. It is at a major intersection, Spanish River Blvd. and Military Trail, made even more important since the announcement was made that the work for the I – 95 exit at Spanish River has begun. It has been vacant for years and many proposals have come and gone. The most recent was from a developer who hired a real estate company while he had it under contract. They marketed it as a retail and bank site but there must not have been enough interest from prospective tenants as he never closed on the land. Now we finally have the unexciting answer to this mystery of what is coming to this major corner: it is going to be 75 townhomes. The project is called Spanish River Townhomes, also very unexciting. There will be 12 buildings built on the site. All the homes will be 3 stories with 3 bedrooms and 2 car garages. The homes will range in size from 2,114 – 2,800 square feet. Pricing will be between $400,000 - $600,000 per unit and there will be a pool and fitness center in the middle of the project. I am a little bit disappointed, was hoping for some retail on the site that could have been useful. But as we all know, when it comes to real estate development (and most other things too) the determining factor is how much money can be made from it. And clearly the not surprising answer here is residential use. It is a very convenient location and will become even more so when the 95 exit is completed. It is also close to where the new Tri – Rail station will be, schools, restaurant, banking and even a cemetery. What more could you ask for in a location? I don’t think they will have any trouble selling these somewhat affordably priced homes and wish them the best of luck in doing so. As always thanks for reading and have a great day.


Thursday, October 2, 2014

ONE LAST CHANCE FOR SPRING TRAINING BASEBALL OCT. 21


ONE LAST CHANCE FOR SPRING TRAINING BASEBALL OCT. 21

In a tight vote, the proposal to fund the new spring training baseball site in West Palm Beach failed 4 – 3. But there is one last chance it could still work out. There will be one last vote on October 21 to see if the project can happen. The sticking point is an escalator clause the baseball teams are pushing for that relies on tourism forever expanding, which could be unrealistic. If there is a problem there then the county must pick up the bill. The time between now and then will be used to try and overcome this obstacle. Why is this issue such a big deal to me? Besides the fact that I love sports, there is the simple idea of this project. Right now this site is a nasty landfill that is an eyesore and generating no income. The area it is located in is suffering economically and there is a fair amount of crime there. It could become a gleaming new stadium that would generate lots of money. Oh yes, there is a huge economic impact at stake. How about these numbers: annual economic impact of $92.1 to $128.6 million, of which $55.1 to $76.9 million would be a direct economic impact. They project 160,000 – 220,000 visitors per year, and 94,400 to 129,000 would come from outside the state. 1,007 to 1,422 jobs would be created by the project. Basically, it would lift this entire area and put it on the map. It would go from a location where no one wants to be to one that would be drawing hundreds of thousands of people every year, giving them a chance for even more growth. If all this is not enough for you, if this deal does not happen we will lose the 3 baseball teams we have now and all the economic benefits they bring. So there is an awful lot riding on this issue and the next final vote. Say a prayer for this to happen! It could only help! As always thanks for reading and have a great day.

Washington Nationals, Houston Astros strike out on pitch for stadium funding