History is being made with the creation of the first all student housing project in Boca Raton. Ground broke on Wednesday for the 279,000 square foot University Park project which is located at 135 NW 20th St. It will open in the summer of 2015 and will feature 2, 3 and 4 bedroom apartments, furnished. Since it is in Boca, the apartments will have flat screen TVs and washing machines and bathrooms, unlike many other communal student housing complexes. But that is nothing compared to what you will find in the 2 story clubhouse. In addition to a student lounge, there will be a juice bar, 24 hour gym, tanning beds (just what every student in Florida needs, don’t tell Mom), video game rooms, computer labs and study areas. Wireless internet will be available of course. Finally, it will offer free shuttle service to the FAU and PBSC campuses in Boca. It is being built by Rosemurgy Properties, and experienced and respected developer. Is there any way this project can fail?? I highly doubt it. Congrats on a home run Rosemurgy! It will be great to see this one go up. Won’t be long now. http://www.sun-sentinel.com/business/realestate/fl-university-park-lede-x-jpg-20140226,0,920929.photo
I don’t think so. There is something strange going on here with this, and we may never know what it is. But one thing is clear, nobody from either party is very interested in getting behind this for whatever reason. The latest drama occurred when a vote that supposed to come this Thursday was abruptly postponed and no reason was given as to why. In the middle, almost forgotten in the middle of this political jockeying are some lower to middle class (along with some upper class for sure, but this won’t really affect them financially) people who will not be able to sell or pay their new insurance premiums and will be forced into foreclosure. It also raises the prospect of what will happen to these homes once they are foreclosed on? With prohibitive insurance premiums no one else will buy them and before long there could be entire towns or cities full of these types of homes. I think that Republicans are pushing for this, trying to protect their wealthy party members who are being affected by this, and Democrats are pushing back. They are in a rare position of arguing that the Government needs the money more and I think they are relishing it. Meanwhile regular people are caught in the crossfire. It is not right and a fine example of what is wrong with politics. How hard would it be to include some sort of provision in this that says if you have a home or net worth over $1,000,000 then the insurance reform doesn’t apply to you? We haven’t heard the last of this one, but this is clearly a round lost for the people in the battle for insurance reform.
This merger thing is starting out on the wrong foot here. I was very excited about this news, thought it would be great for Florida. Well, it still could be, but it looks like this company is going to have to keep reducing costs to get competitive. They just announced that they have laid off 35% of their staff since the $1.2 billion merger took place in November. Stock is sliding, and they are trying to reorganize. If you remember from one of my former blog posts about the unemployed, that we all know someone in this situation, who has become unemployed. In this one, it was my next store neighbor. He will remain nameless, but had worked at the firm for over a decade and was a very high executive there. He was led to believe that he survived the merger, and so feeling secure he began some badly needed home renovations that he had been putting off. It was then that he was given the news. He has 3 kids, and there are not many companies the size of Office Depot here. As companies fight for survival there are going to be casualties but there are right and wrong ways to do things. That being said, there could be more pain before it is all said and done. The job of reorganizing is huge, deciding on which stores to close, rebranding and renaming all the stores, etc. I wish them well but not sure I am going to shop there again.
We have talked plenty about the need for Florida to create or attract new industries to create jobs. This is exactly what we have here with the film industry. There are proposals before the House that would provide $1 billion dollars in tax credits to film and television production, and $300 million dollars in tax incentives, respectively. If passed, this money would be paid over a 6 year period. You have to applaud these efforts, assuming that the proposals pass, and there is a very good chance they will. There is a history of giving to attract this industry, $296 million in 2010 when the efforts were launched. However, it was revealed that this could be too little too late as other neighboring states, Georgia in particular, were doing more in this area and their success would make it more difficult to succeed. It was mentioned that 11 “studio, bricks and mortar” projects were under construction in Georgia as a direct result of the state’s efforts to attract the film industry. It was astutely mentioned that it is really in Florida’s best interests to step up its efforts here as it relies so much on tourism. Any films or TV shows that are done here would be free advertising and help attract visitors to the state. Let’s see what happens here since it would seem that this could be a great new industry that could grow here under the right circumstances. Hopefully the new efforts will be enough to create something that can be built upon. If Georgia can do it why can’t Florida?
We have an update for sure, and possible progress too. Like everything in life, there is good news and bad news. Let’s dispense with the bad news first. The Toronto Blue Jays have pulled out of the running to be in South Florida. They have decided to remain in Dunedin, FL so that is not all bad. Now onto the good news, and there is much more of that! The Washington Nationals have replaced them as Palm Beach County possibilities and they, along with the Houston Astros, are focusing on Lake Worth as a possible 2 team stadium location. After some nonsense about a site in the John Prince Park, which won’t work since they would have to partner with Palm Beach State College, who they would need 20 acres from, the Lake Worth Park of Commerce was revealed as a possible site. It is strategically located between I-95 and Florida’s Turnpike, close to the airport and a Tri-Rail station. There will be no residents in the area that could derail a deal, like they just did in Palm Beach Gardens and there was initial opposition to the John Prince Park site. The teams seem like they have agreed to seek a location together, although there has been some talk about the expansion of Tradition Field in Port St. Lucie. But it sounds like they are committed to being in Palm Beach County and that is awesome. Most importantly, Lake Worth has always struggled economically, and this would be a huge boost for them. It seems like it is in the hands of the County now, and the clock is ticking since the Nationals are looking for a home this November. I am not sure why they would not allow this deal to move forward, it seems like everyone would win, especially Lake Worth. I will be following this one closely so stay tuned and keep your fingers crossed. Hopefully we will soon be talking about the County’s 2 newest residents, the Houston Astros and Washington Nationals! Meanwhile, I can’t wait to get to Jupiter on Friday, my first spring training game of the year! If you have never gone you need to check it out sometime. It is an amazing, relaxing experience, which would not be complete without beer and peanuts.
Blue Jays no longer looking in Palm Beach County; Astros considering facility with Nationals near Lake Worth
This is really fascinating. I never paid much heed to things like boat and car shows, largely because I am not really interested in either. But it is amazing to see how much money is spent there, both by the visitors and the exhibitors. It creates a huge economic impact on the entire state. These numbers are just staggering! The show took place this year from Feb. 13 – 17th but the numbers are from last year’s show. Even though it is only a 5 day event, it supported 6,592 full time jobs! Total economic impact: $597 million dollars for the entire state. It attracted 102,118 visitors, and 35% were from outside Florida. This is broken down to out of town visitors and foreign attendees, who combined to spend $63.6 million dollars. This year’s Show had 3,000 boats and 2,000 Exhibitors. Last year exhibitors spent a lot of money. 35% of exhibitors were from out of state, and 33% were from Florida. Together they spent $18.9 million dollars on local goods and services. Florida companies rang up $312.2 million in sales, which generated an excise and sales tax of $30.4 million dollars. Across the state, labor income impacts of $216.6 million dollars resulted from the economic activity generated by the Show. Given all this, I really look at these shows from a much different perspective when I realized how many people are impacted by them. I remember just a few years ago when the County ran out of storage space because so many boats had been seized due to foreclosure or simply abandoned. Now this; it is a nice change! Must be a pretty good indicator of the economy too, although it is in Miami where everything is going well. But remember that the show brings many people here from other countries and around the US as well, and presumably they are generating some if not most of the sales.
Progressive Insurance Miami International Boat Show Announces $597M Economic Impact
I have been wanting to eat at this place since it was at the Hard Rock! I never made it there and then it closed, so I was thrilled when it opened up again in Boca. But they took an enormous space (14,000 SF) in Mizner Park that was formerly occupied by ZED 451 that I knew that would be tough for anyone to succeed in. BUT, they are the only game in town for live jazz (or at least that I know of), and they hired a very good chef, Justin Fit, who used to cook at Café Boulud in Palm Beach. I had checked out the menu and it looked great.
We met another couple here who live East and they had been before and liked it. I was a bit surprised to find that the live entertainment was with the dining, so you were going to have it whether you wanted it or not. Fortunately, they had a great singer and we were as far from it as you could be so it wasn’t too loud. Still a little hard to talk but manageable. The appetizers were not memorable. I started with some stone crabs, and everyone else had salads. I ordered 2 large claws and got 4 tiny mediums instead. I ate them but was not happy. Then I had the scallops. I asked for them well done and spicy, and got exactly that. They were probably the best I have ever had! Wife had a burger, and our friends had the steak. They were all very happy with their entrees. Wines by the glass were good, nothing great. They did have some desert wines, and I had to try one from Canada I had never seen before: an apple ice wine. I enjoyed it but everyone else thought it tasted like apple cider. The problem was desert itself. I was sort of excited for a couple of options I saw on the menu online. Not only did they not have them, but they also didn’t have the 4 things on the menu they gave us! Instead the waitress verbally told us what they had and none excited to the point of ordering. Meanwhile, the place was getting more and more crowded, the bar and the seating area. It looked like it might have been fun later, but we left right before the last group was coming on. On the strength of the scallops I would come back here, and I would like to see some more music here. It was a very different kind of dinner for us, and I like to switch things up. I would recommend it, and would love to try it on a weeknight to see what the crowd is like. Very crowded on the weekend. A final note worth mentioning. We hate to valet so we parked in the garage, but our friends valeted. The valet lost their car keys! The owner of Jazziz drove them home so they could get their spare key and gave them a $100 gift certificate!
OK I am beginning to feel somewhat Nostradamus like with the blog lately. This one goes under the heading national economy. We talked of an article that referenced the last recession and what the US did to get the country out of it in 1935. A huge transportation and infrastructure plan was roiled out that put millions to work and built highways, bridges, buildings and the like. Obama is seeking to repeat history somewhat here with this new proposal. With a clever idea to overhaul corporate and business taxes to pay for it, he is proposing $302 billion to repair and replace roads, bridges, tunnels and railroads. This is needed anyway, and of course it would create badly needed jobs. Both parties can’t even disagree on it, just how to fund it and whether or not it is enough money. There is such a thing as a Highway Fund, which does these things now, and it is almost broke. That could happen by the summer and if it does projects around the country will stop and as many as 700,000 jobs could be “undermined”. Some have argued that this will not be enough money, and that raising the gas tax will be necessary to solve this issue long term. Clearly there is a lot more negotiating to be done here but I think both parties understand that this is the road map that will solve this pressing problem. How and when it gets resolved remains to be seen, and you can be sure it won’t be quick or easy but it will get done. This could really help the long term unemployed, all the new construction jobs. I hope it can happen quickly, they only have until the summer so the clock is certainly ticking. This could be a rare moment of unity by politicians, look quickly before you miss it!
To Pay for Infrastructure Repairs, Obama Seeks Tax Changes
Sometimes we get a little carried away with optimism and forget that there are still some major issues that need fixing in Florida besides insurance. Unfortunately this article is one of them and I thought it needed to be discussed some. The LeRoy Collins Institute just published a report called "Tougher Choices: Shaping Florida's Future" which was written by Drs. David Denslow, James Dewey and the University of Florida's Bureau of Economic and Business Research. This report had nothing but bad news about where Florida ranks on a number of issues, from teacher salaries to high wage jobs to adequate roads. While it offered no insight in the article regarding high wage jobs or adequate roads, it did provide this info.
The salaries of FL teachers declined at the fourth fastest rate in the nation between 2000 and 2012 and that this would be tough to reverse without raising taxes (and we know that is not happening). It said that the lack of personal income tax results in heavy reliance on the sales and property taxes, which hurt businesses (and Rick Scott has proposed cutting the sales tax further, and property taxes are increasing with the properties that are being developed). Gas taxes are not indexed for inflation so these revenues are declining. The Retirement System is at risk due to the Legislature's consideration of requirements for new entrants to join a defined contribution plan. The cure for all these ills? Raise the sales tax! But as I said earlier, not only is that not happening, Rick Scott is promising to reduce it further if reelected. So how do these things get fixed? With more effective and efficient leadership which has clearly been missing for some time given these statistics. Funny, but I haven't heard about any of these issues in either governor candidates speeches or campaign visits. The real question is how can we get these important issues in a place where they get addressed??
Here is some old fashioned progress taking place in Pompano Beach. I am not sure why they are calling Atlantic Blvd. and A1A Ft. Lauderdale! There are tons of old, dilapidated hotels, motels and the like that are just begging for renovation or better yet demolition along Atlantic and also A1A. This is a story of exactly that, and it should be the sign of more to come. Anywho, an old crappy HOJO (that is short for Howard Johnson’s) has just been demolished and soon the palatial Paramount Ft. Lauderdale Beach will take its place. That is going to be an 18 story luxury condo (that is right, not a rental) building offering 95 apartments ranging from 1,934 – 3,493 SF. Pricing starts at $1,000,000 and the property will be completed in 2016. The former HOJO was bought out of bankruptcy by Cignal Corp. from Maryland for $23 million. The deal fell through and the property went to the next bidder in line, Chieftain Holdings, for a nice $3 million discount at $20 million. They partnered with an experienced residential developer, Daniel Kodsi, to do the project which will take 18 months to build. As the economy improves more of these redevelopments will take place, but it takes almost 4 years or more to make it happen so it is hard to tell what is happening until a sign goes up or an announcement is made. In lean times the signs didn’t mean much, as the developers couldn’t reach the required levels of pre-sales to get the financing to build the projects. That is no longer a problem as the housing market is rebounding, especially for the high end residential market. There is only so much new product being built with water views and it is going to sell, insurance problems or not. This is great for the whole area, who will see the values of their properties rise as a result. If I had lots of extra cash I would invest in some residential here which could be resold in a few years for a large profit. Even better would be to buy one of the older buildings that are well located and then redevelop it into similar product or possibly a hotel. If you need a good broker for that just let me know!
Former Howard Johnson hotel demolished in Fort Lauderdale
There is a little bit of everything here. We have an economic forecast from an institutional real estate company, shedding light on the areas growth prospects and real estate market. The expert forecaster is Richard Golod, who is the Director of Global Investment Strategies for Invesco, headquartered out of Texas. They are a former client of mine while I worked at CBRE. Golod says what we have been seeing and saying for South Florida’s economy, that things will continue a steady climb upwards, mentioning government, corporate and consumer spending increasing. He likes the prospects for the US investment market, is lukewarm on Europe and recommends avoiding emerging markets. He thinks that real estate will be the biggest driver of the South Florida economy, citing residential sale statistics. He pointed to the fact that 63% of the residential sales in December were cash deals, fueled by foreign investors from South America, Europe and Asia. We have talked about that quite a bit here, and also about the fact that right now the largest yields can be had in real estate. It all sounds good, assuming the next jobs report looks good. If it doesn’t, we might be backsliding a bit. We will see soon, but have to ride this wave of good tidings while we can! Plus when it is 80 degrees and sunny outside, it is easy to be optimistic. Try and have lunch or dinner outside today. You will be glad you did. As always thanks for reading and have a great day.
Investment strategist has bright outlook for South Florida
While on the surface this looks like a national story (and in truth it is), it is extremely pertinent to Florida for 2 reasons. One is that we have a large elderly population, and the second is that we lead the nation in long term unemployment. These people are now benefitting from the new health laws. The majority of them are in the 50 – 70 year old range and they are leading the charge to sign up for the new plans now being offered. Specifically, people 55 – 64 years old represented 31% of people who signed up. That is the largest segment by age group and it is no accident. Many of them had no insurance prior to this and were unable to afford seeing doctors despite needing to. Many had preexisting conditions and were unable to get insurance. Now they are finally able to get help and have some peace of mind that there is a medical safety net out there for them. Overall, the publicity the Obamacare has been overwhelmingly negative, from the rollout problems, to not being allowed to keep preexisting plans (oh my bad, you can keep it!), etc. but this is the first article I have seen showing some of the positive effects of the new laws. Maybe this is the start of something, and more people should know about this. I am very happy that this is providing badly needed help to these people, who may never even find another job. At least they have insurance now and that would not have been possible before. It is a huge step forward and I think before it is all said and done people will be happy with the new laws. Time will tell but either way it is here to stay.
Older Americans Are Early Winners Under Health Law
February and March are my favorite months here because of spring training. While my team is the Yankees, sadly they play all the way up in Tampa which sucks. But we do have the Miami Marlins and St. Louis Cardinals, who share Roger Dean Stadium in Jupiter. That is very close to where I live (45 minutes away), and the stadium is amazing. It holds 7,500 people so there are no bad seats. It almost never rains so the weather is perfect and there are not many more relaxing things to do than drink beer, eat peanuts and watch baseball during the day. I have created a tradition of buying tickets to at least 5 games, getting 4 tickets to each, and take friends and colleagues. Here is where it gets interesting. With the Mets in Port St. Lucie, the area has 3 teams. They really need 4 to ensure that they all remain here, since they all have escape clauses in their leases that allow them to leave if there are less than 4 teams. It had been common knowledge that both the Toronto Blue Jays and Houston Astros wanted to build a 2 team stadium in Palm Beach Gardens about 3 miles from Roger Dean. Some angry residents derailed this plan and now the teams are seeking other alternatives in the County. I was bitterly disappointed to read about that, but this article has given me new hope! It was revealed here that these are not the only teams beating the bushes for locations in Palm Beach County.
Both the Washington Nationals and Milwaukee Brewers have also expressed interest in moving to the area. It is interesting to note that all of these teams are currently playing in other parts of the State now. Anyway, if we were to get even one more team here it would ensure the future of spring training baseball in Palm Beach County for the foreseeable future. By the way, the economic impact of one or 2 of these teams coming to the area is very good. The cities make money from the teams, the tourists (fans of the team who come to town to see them and others), and all the events that happen year round when there is no MLB baseball like concerts, high school and college sports, etc. I have some high hopes that at least one of these teams will find a home here and we will all benefit. Now please make this happen baseball gods! Thank you, that will be all.
Mark Foley helping Washington Nationals explore spring training in Palm Beach County
I think we are overdue for one of these and this is a good one for many reasons. Since I moved to Florida in 2001, there has never been an upscale restaurant in West Boca Raton. I think the popular but erroneous thought is that there is not enough wealth there to support such a thing. After living here for almost 13 years someone is finally giving it a shot.
This place is in a small strip center called Yamato Village Center that is the main shopping center for 2 over 55 year old residential communities on Lakeridge Blvd. That is on Yamato Rd. between Lyons Rd. and 441. The main restaurant here has always been a sort of American/BBQ place that has changed hands about 5 times over the years. It continued opening again and again to almost the same mediocre menu and food. I found out about the new place with a small blurb in the Sun Sentinel and the wife and I jumped right on it. The interior is completely redone and very clean looking, possibly too bright. They have lots of Asian paper globe lights that I really liked. We had some seats with a view of the kitchen, which I love, since you can see all the action in there. Right away we knew there were going to be problems with service when we waited for more than 15 minutes for menus. To make a long story short on the service, the maître d’ swore he was missing 2 servers and if he had them everything would have been fine. We promised to try it again despite the service and we will. Now onto the food.
When I first saw this menu online I was surprised and how large the menu was. There were lots of things that looked good and they offered 4 course prix fix menus which I am a big fan of. So I went with that and they were kind enough to let me substitute some French Onion soup instead of the salad so I was a happy camper. Started out with the duck egg rolls, which were excellent despite having the fat on the duck! They came with a homemade XO sauce which was good, sort of like A1 but tangier. The French Onion soup was really great, and then had the Maryland Crab Cake. Usually this comes with 2, but they just served one giant one here. It was very impressive and good despite having a little bit of shells in it. Wife had a salad, then went with the steak which came with some crab meat. She enjoyed both and took half of it home. Finished up with the carrot cake and wife had some strange chocolate thing which came in a coffee cup and was very dark. I stayed away from it but she enjoyed it, The carrot cake was great! While they had an impressive selection of desert wines, they didn’t offer any by the glass only by the half bottle. They did have some port by the glass though and I went with that. Discovered a good one there called Cockburn 10 year tawny, which was great despite the terribly painful name. While we really enjoyed the food here, it was very expensive. As expensive as almost any other place in town, so they are going to have to get their service problems worked out and quickly. We are going to try it once more and I am hoping it will be the second of many more trips there. I am rooting hard for these guys! I would love to know about a great restaurant find you discovered or your favorite place. Please don’t be shy or stingy – share your info! As always, thanks for reading.
What are they putting in the water in Miami? Whatever it is I want some because they are beyond on fire! I am surprised that they have not started bottling and selling it like Boca Raton did. Last week we talked about the return of Eastern Airlines to Miami. They had been out of business for 20 years or so and will be restarting operations there, focusing on Latin American travel routes. It was just announced that XL Airways France and Air Europa (a Spanish airline) will both be returning to Miami as well. This is great in case I ever want to start an airline company I will know which city to start it in! Both of these airlines stopped service here before, Air Europa in 2010 and it is unknown when XL originally discontinued service in the past. I don’t think there was any coincidence that Air Europa stopped in 2010, when the European recession was in high gear (maybe it is in middle gear now?). Clearly Miami is a popular destination once again for Europeans, adding to an already very international pot. What is really great about the Europeans is that they tend to travel here most in the summer, when they have their vacations. This is a great boost to the area since the majority of the tourism industry is mostly dead at these “off season” times. These airlines are discounters too, joining other discount airlines here that have enjoyed great success like JetBlue, Southwest and Spirit. There are plans to expand the airports in Ft. Lauderdale and Palm Beach, showing more evidence of the regions’ growth and recovery. The development in South Florida has always started in the South (Miami) and then runs North into Broward and Palm Beach counties. In those counties we are already enjoying the spillover in business, which is rapidly increasing. It is really simple. There is only so much space in Dade county. When they run out of space or things get too expensive, they must look North to either Broward or Palm Beach counties. It is starting to happen again and let’s hope it continues for years to come!
XL Airways France and Spanish airline Air Europa will return to Miami International Airport later this year.
XL Airways, a low-cost carrier, will offer three nonstop flights between Miami and Paris Charles de Gaulie Airport starting May 25, according to The Miami Herald. The service on a 408-seat Airbus A330-300 will last until Aug. 29.
Air Europa, which was last seen at MIA in 2010, will fly between Miami and Madrid on June 4. The flights will be three times a week on an Airbus A330-200 with 299 seats.
Until Aug. 17, the plane will arrive at MIA, fly round-trip to Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic and then leave Miami for Madrid, according to the Herald.
After Aug. 17, flights will go directly between Miami and Madrid.
Two European airlines to return to Miami International Airport