Wednesday, December 9, 2015

WEST PALM BEACH’S CITY PLACE HAS BIG GROWTH PLANS

Jeff Greens owns most of West Palm Beach but not all of it (yet). One thing he doesn’t own is City Place, which is still trying to find itself after years of struggles. They have a revolving door of retailers and restaurants, and have had security issues. But as one of only two entertainment areas in the City’s Downtown area, it is already an enduring institution despite it being only 15 years old. There is a lot of excitement and hope about the hotel being built across the street. The hope is that many new large convention groups and tourists will walk across the street and boost the businesses at City Place. Meanwhile, a significant growth plan is being hatched on the current site of Publix. Related Cos, the owner of City Place, is hoping to relocate them across the street on some land they own. And then on that site build another 450,000 SF of retail space. Then another 400 apartments and 50,000 SF of more retail space will be built on this site and just North of it. The North part of the expansion will finally link to Clematis Street, something that has long been envisioned. But what the area really needs is more office space not more retail. City Place cannot fill the existing retail they have and adding 500,000 SF of more retail space will not help and will hurt the existing retailers. But it will create some jobs and it will increase and enhance the mixed use feel of the area which is great. I wish them the very best with the expansion but I have some reservations. This is one of those cases where I truly hope I am wrong. As always thanks for reading and have a great day.

Monday, December 7, 2015

U.S. YACHTS TO SOON OVERWHELM CUBA?

As you know, I am very bullish on Florida’s prospects regarding the potential trade and tourism with Cuba. I told you that the tourism would begin with large cruise ships because Cuba doesn’t have the hotel infrastructure to handle large volumes of tourists. But what I didn’t think about was all the smaller sea traffic that would be permitted. This article examines what could soon be a flood of luxury boats to Cuban ports with the loosing of travel restrictions, which can happen without lifting the embargo. Not only U.S. yachts are expected in this flood but also luxury vessels from other places as well. For one of these sleek yachts it is just a 4 hour trip from Florida’s Key West to Hemmingway Marina in Havana. These boats have all the trimmings, including satellite television, bedrooms, bars, etc. They are truly floating luxury hotels and pretty soon they will be able to travel freely to Cuba. Right now only certain permits have been granted to sailboats, ferry companies, 4 cruise lines and one yacht broker. That is expected to grow rapidly once large scale sea travel is authorized by the U.S. government. So we will soon essentially step back in time, before the embargo, when people traveled to Cuba freely from Florida for short weekend trips. I think this will go a long way towards helping Cuban citizens economically while also furthering our capitalistic market aspirations there. It should also foster more trade, and good will I am sure. It is very exciting, the end of an era and the beginning of a new one. One that should greatly benefit South Florida for years to come. As always thanks for reading and have a great day.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

PALM BEACH COUNTY PREPARES TO TRANSFORM US 1

This is very exciting stuff! It is all part of the nationwide trend of reducing cars and creating more mixed use areas where people can walk and bike. Typically when change comes to cities in Florida the cities initiate the changes. In this case the County of Palm Beach is initiating this, something I haven’t seen in the 14 years I have lived in Florida. It makes sense if you think about it. The U.S. 1 thoroughfare was planned and created 50 years ago around cars. It was originally a commuter thoroughfare that is no longer used in that fashion. The decreased amount of traffic there proves that. Now communities want more vibrant areas where people can walk and ride bikes. Really all that has to be done is add sidewalks, bike lanes and trees for shade, along with narrowing the road to prevent as many cars. Already at least 3 cities have asked the Florida Department of Transportation to narrow the roads. Delray Beach, as usual, is out in front on this initiative. They are narrowing their road from 3 lanes to 2 between George Bush Blvd. and Southeast 10th Street. They are also adding trees, pedestrian level street lights and widening the sidewalks. That work will be complete by the end of the year. New developers in the area will be required to do this. An express bus service from Boca Raton to West Palm Beach is also being explored. Clearly this change will not take place overnight in the County. But it will happen, and I bet within 5 – 7 years. And this is a great thing for everyone and long overdue. Yet another thing to look forward to, true progress that improves health, safety and appearance. As always thanks for reading and have a great day.

Monday, November 16, 2015

WHAT PUBLIX IS UP TO

This is a Rosenfeld Realty Advisor exclusive, no article was used! So I was at the ICSC Florida show and saw an old friend there. He recently got a job at the real estate company that handles all of Publix’s retail real estate. He confirmed what we have been speculating on here for some time, that Publix was looking to become an owner and developer. He said that Publix bought 6 centers last year and plans to buy 60 this year. They are undercutting the competition on price, paying 5 caps while everyone else is paying 6. Given their long term goals it only makes sense for them to pay that kind of number for property. Publix is already the largest privately held company in Florida and last year they made $1 billion in profit. Very quietly and politely they have become a monster to be reckoned with in the marketplace. And while they haven’t jumped into the development game full force yet, they still control at least 90% of the grocery anchored retail development that happens in Florida. And they will get into the development game full force, the only question is when. While they don’t look like Walmart, they are becoming like them quickly in terms of goals (ownership) and strategy (development). And like other competitors, their ambitions are not limited to Florida. I expect them to quickly expand in the Southeast in the coming years. We will keep our eye on Publix as they grow up. I just wonder what they want to be. As always thanks for reading and have a great day.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

PUERTO RICO EXODUS LEADS TO FLORIDA

I have done a few posts on social media on this phenomena but I think it is a big enough story to get a full-fledged blog. This article begins with a 75 year old man, almost in tears, talking about leaving his home in Puerto Rico after 52 years. He doesn’t want to go and is understandably distraught over the new 75% sales and use tax that has been levied. In short, it is causing an exodus from the island and many of those people are heading to Florida. And not just to South Florida, but Central Florida as well. More people have been leaving the island instead of coming there since 2005 but things have really intensified since the new tax. A study that ended in 2013 showed that Puerto Rico was losing 50,000 residents per year. The real concern for the island is the future, since they have an incredible amount of debt and all the professionals are fleeing for greener pastures in the U.S. It is easy for them to do since Puerto Rico is a U.S. territory. And it has been a boon for Florida, since all these new residents pump money into the economy in the way of housing, cars, food, etc. And they start businesses and bring their established businesses with them, greatly contributing to the economy in that way as well. I am sure they feel right at home here with the majority of people speaking Spanish and lots of job opportunities. People coming from other places for a better quality of life and opportunity is what America is all about and I welcome them with open arms. I think that the migration from Puerto Rico and other Latin American countries is helping keep our economy above the national average and makes it a much more interesting place. Like it or not, get used to it. Until the global economy improves people will keep coming to the U.S. for the chance at a better life. 

Sunday, November 1, 2015

TRI-RAIL SERVICE TO PBIA IMPROVES

Palm Beach County is finally getting a little love from Tri-Rail. You see prior to this announcement Palm Beach International Airport had been the only South Florida airport with no direct connection to Tri-Rail. In reality none of the airports have direct service but in Dade and Broward there is shuttle service on a people mover to the terminals. Now a similar service will be provided in Palm Beach County, in the form of a shuttle that will take only 10 minutes to get to the terminal. Every train that stops at the West Palm Beach station will be met with a shuttle at the same time. Right now there is a Palm Tran bus service that runs every 30 minutes. While this is an improvement and makes all airports equal in terms of public transportation, it is truly a band aid. We all know that the trains must eventually go directly to the airports without shuttle service, people movers, etc. for people to truly embrace it on a large scale. This type of mass transportation needs to happen not just to the airports but to many other places of interest, such as stadiums, ports, colleges, etc. This lack of mass transportation is the single biggest obstacle to growth in the region, and also worsens the traffic problem while we grow. It is encouraging to know that this has been addressed in a long term plan (the Seven50 plan, we wrote about it when it was announced) for the region but will it come soon enough? We are growing so quickly that by the time mass transportation catches up it could be too late. There are already dire traffic conditions in Dade and parts of Broward. With thousands of new homes on the way it promises to get much worse before it can get better. We will see how things unfold in the next few years, hopefully money and efforts will be stepped up towards the expansion of mass transit. It has to if everything is going to work. As always thanks for reading and have a great day.


ROSENFELD RESTAURANT REVIEW – M & M THAI CAFÉ BOCA RATON


I really like Thai food but it is hard to find a good place. So I was intrigued when a friend told me about this place and how he had always wanted to try it. Although it is far East, over the bridge and East of Federal, I was game. It is just a couple of blocks from the beach and people are walking by the place, something that seemed a little strange when sitting by the window.

You can tell as soon as you walk in that the place is authentic. The Thai woman who owns it greets you, seats you and takes your order. She also brings out the food. There are only 8 tables here so she is able to do it, and all the tables were full by the time we left at 1:00. There were lots of specials and a distinction between “hot” spicy and “Thai spice” that I was not familiar with. They usually use the star system in Thai restaurants for spice, 1 for mild and 5 for hot. I went with the spicy chicken soup (Tom Yum Gai) and the bean thread noodles with chicken and vegetables. My friend got curry chicken. The soup was amazing, not just spicy but also a tangy flavor that easily made it the best soup I have had at a Thai restaurant. It just had chicken, mushrooms and onions in it and scallions and peppers floating on the top. The noodles were excellent, and there was a huge portion. It was not that spicy though, but I only ordered it hot so that must have explained it. My friend said his curry was the best he ever had and I could see that the “Thai spicy” was affecting him. He said that it was just right for him but his wife would have thrown up if she had it! I will definitely go with that next time! Since it was lunch we didn’t have anything but water but there were at least 10 wine bottles in the front counter facing the tables and some were pretty decent. While I really enjoyed this place I would be worried about it on a Friday or Saturday unless they take reservations. You certainly can’t go wrong with the food and there was no trouble getting in for lunch at 12. I would love to know about your favorite place or a place you have been recently and enjoyed. As always thanks for reading and have a great day.

Friday, October 23, 2015

WESTERN PALM BEACH COUNTY IS GROWING UP FAST – TOO FAST?

OK this kind of growth just cannot be ignored. For years we have seen Western Dade and Broward counties expand and produce well to do cities such as Kendall, Doral, Weston and Pembroke Pines. Finally, it seems like Palm Beach County’s time has come. What exactly are we talking about and where will it be taking place? The place is Loxahatchee and the players are Minto West and GL Homes. What we are talking about is wholesale development of this entire area which starts with Minto West. They have already been approved for the development of 4,500 homes, along with 2 million square feet of retail, office and industrial space. That in in itself is a small /medium sized city. It will be built on land that had old citrus groves on it. Now GL Homes has proposed building 4,000 homes next to this on the Indian Trails Grove tract which is almost 5,000 acres of land. They have owned the land for 10 years and almost developed it before the recession. Originally they envisioned building 12,000 homes here. Along with the homes retail, office and industrial space will be built. Here is the problem with all of this new development: there is no major roadway to connect these new residents to major highways. In Broward you have the Sawgrass Expressway and I – 75 and in Dade you have the Dolphin and the Palmetto but Palm Beach doesn’t have anything like that. The closest thing to it is State Rd. 7, AKA 441, which is not yet connected fully all the way through the county. This traffic is going to be a tremendous problem and will further deteriorate the quality of life in this once quiet place. But when change comes it is usually driven by money, and there is a lot of it to be made here. And lots of jobs created and lots of tax dollars added to the tax rolls. And so this is going to happen and then we will try to figure out how to live with it. Is it too much growth too quickly? That is exactly what we are about to find out. I sure am glad I live in South Palm Beach County because things are about to get a lot more crowded to the North and fast. As always thanks for reading and have a great day.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

ROSENFELD RESTAURANT REVIEW – THE COOK & THE CORK CORAL SPRINGS

If you are reading this one, you are in for a real treat. You see me and my cousin Craig were at it again last week, looking for quality restaurants in West Broward. I am always looking for hidden gems and am thrilled when I discover one. I read about The Cook & The Cork in the newspaper and had been wanting to try it.

The opportunity finally came on a rainy Wednesday night. The place is sort of nondescript from the outside, located on the end of a small strip center on Sample Rd. But once you enter the place is dark but inviting and cozy. The menu is very unusual and we were forced to get 4 appetizers to make sure we got a good feel for the place. We went with Pierogis, some beef tacos, duck confit and tempura shrimp. I didn’t eat the tacos given the beef but my cousin really liked them. The pierogis were delicious, served with onions and apples. Duck confit was excellent and I ate it all myself. We split the shrimp, which were tasty and had 2 different sauces on them (one sauce on 3 and another on the other 3). From there my cousin had the herb and panko bread crumb crusted chicken which came with eggplant and onions. I had the snapper special blackened with grilled broccoli. The chicken was sensational, and I would probably get it the next time I go. My fish was good, a bit bland and not real spicy but fresh. I never had grilled broccoli before and it was strange but OK, not like regular broccoli at all in terms of look and taste. When I added some of the eggplant and onions to the fish it was much improved. From there it was onto the blueberry cobbler and cinnamon bun bread pudding. Both were solid but not spectacular. The wines by the glass are worth noting as well. They had some great, hard to find sections that were really excellent and reasonably priced. When they didn’t have the desert wine I ordered, they served me something else and gave it to me on the house! And it was really good. I think this place is the best restaurant in Coral Spring and really one of the best in all of South Florida. I strongly recommend it and look forward to returning there soon. I would love to hear about your favorite place or one you have tried recently and enjoyed. As always thanks for reading and have a great day. 

Thursday, October 15, 2015

UPTOWN ATLANTIC APPROVED AND COMING SOON TO DELRAY BEACH

 The long awaited renaissance of West Delray took a huge step forward with the approval of the Uptown Atlantic project. It is 6 acres on the South side of Atlantic Avenue and when complete will feature retail space, office space and residential townhomes. It will be between Southwest 9th Ave and Southwest 6th Ave. It has been in the works since 2013 and is still not fully approved. If it does here is what will be built: 112 residential rental units ranging from studios to three bedrooms, 17,000 square feet of office space, 6,000 square feet dedicated to restaurants and 45,000 square feet for retail use. It says one of the tenants will be a grocery store. This is both interesting and amazing news. It is interesting because the project is not yet approved, so it must be a tenant who has signed a contingent lease. The amazing part is that a grocery store has been the one thing missing from downtown Delray so it would fill a huge hole there. Twenty two of the residential units will be for workforce housing, something else that is badly needed in this area. Yes Delray Beach is finally growing up and I think it will work out well. I think you will see great stores and restaurants gravitate to this area to take advantage of lower rents and before long it will be just as desirable as the space to the East of it. Smart people can invest in this area before it changes and make a small fortune. Better act quickly as things look like they are about to take off. As always thanks for reading and have a great day.  
  

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

MEET JEFF GREENE THE KING OF WEST PALM BEACH


OK I have been in the real estate business since 1995 and since 2001 in South Florida. In all that time I have never seen one person or company effectively buy a portion of a city the way that Jeff Greene has in the Northwood section of West Palm Beach. So what is going on? One could say that this is a huge gamble, buying land in an area that has struggled in every way for years. Redevelopment plans have come and gone, all of them unsuccessfully. But none had the vision, scope and or money that Jeff Greene has. With one person buying all this area he will be able to fix the tangled streetscape and make it work. He will be able to take advantage of underutilized waterfront, on which he will build residential, office and retail space. And it will be less expensive than what can be had in the surrounding areas so it will be attractive to homebuyers and businesses. Yes if the economy holds up Jeff Greene is going to make out like a bandit here. While it is a story of the rich getting richer, you have to give him credit for his vision and risk taking. And really the city will be a big winner as well, finally getting a tough area turned around and making it into something everyone can be proud of. I think Jeff Greene is the best thing to ever happen to West Palm and I can’t wait to see how this all turns out. Don’t bet against him, this is going to finally happen. As always thanks for reading and have a great day.

Jeff Greene spends $31 million to buy prime WPB land


Tuesday, September 15, 2015

OBAMA TALKS CLIMATE CHANGE AT THE EVERGLADES


I had to go back a couple of months for this one, but it is still worthy of discussion. While climate change is affecting the entire world, Florida is emerging as the poster child for it in the U.S. Why is that? It is very simple and comes down to one thing: rising water levels. While it sounds simple, as it continues at the current pace South Florida will be 2 feet under water in 2060. While this will cause billions in damages, it will also affect our water supply which comes from the Everglades. Obama used the time here in Florida to visit the Everglades in order to highlight the problem and urge people (Florida politicians, among others) to take steps to counter it. It was not a coincidence that the visit was on Earth Day. Obama has backed up these words with funds, to the tune of $2.2 billion thus far and another $240 million in this year’s budget. It is strange because despite all of this no one really talks about the issue here. But thankfully municipalities, especially in Dade County, are starting to take action now. Building codes are being rewritten to raise building foundations and the like. If you want to see what the future of South Florida will look like just look at the Florida Keys. They have already seen rising water levels and almost all homes are raised up, as are bridges, roads, etc. Since there is no way to stop climate change, we would do well to prepare for it. As always thanks for reading and have a great day.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

ROSENFELD RESTAURANT REVIEW: CASIMIR BOCA RATON

I have always wanted to eat at this restaurant. Very few restaurants stay in business over 3 years and the ones that do are clearly doing something right. It must have been fate when I tried to eat at Sapphire, the Indian restaurant directly next store, on Monday and they were closed. Casimir is very busy at lunch. They draw everyone from workers in the area, to retired and or non-working people and tourists. They have a large patio in the front for outside seating, which I think attracts a lot of people. Although it is a French bistro, it has a balanced menu where there is really something for everyone. They have a large selection of salads, a substantial kid’s menu, entree types like steak, crepes etc. but what they seem to be known for at lunch is a salad with a protein on top of it. You can have fish, chicken or steak on it. My friend and I both went this direction, with me having a spinach salad, with quinoa, apples, cranberries, cherry tomatoes, almonds and topped with Arctic Char which was the fish of the day. My friend had the same thing but with chicken. After realizing that the fish was served with skin underneath, I removed it and it was delicious. Feeling confident after our salads, we decided to take a step further and try some deserts. I went with the highly recommended apple tart, called Tarte Tatin, which was served warm with vanilla ice cream. My friend went with the crème brulee, which is one of her favorite deserts. We were both very happy with everything. I will definitely return here and would strongly recommend this place to others. I would love to hear about your favorite place or a place you have tried recently and enjoyed. Don’t be shy, spread the love! As always, thanks for reading and have a great day.

Friday, September 4, 2015

Tesla Ventures Into Solar Power Storage for Home and Business


The Gigafactory, a $5 billion plant being built near Reno, Nev., by Tesla, the maker of electric vehicles, will produce lithium-ion battery systems designed to be used by utilities and homeowners. 

Well we all know that Tesla is the most recognized solar powered car company out there, and that their cars are very high quality. In fact, they have been the highest rated cars ever tested, despite their only having limited range. Other than that, we only think about solar as some panels on top of people’s homes. Sadly these homes are outside of Florida, given the restrictions in place from Florida Power & Light, our monopoly of a utility company. All that is about to change thanks to Tesla. They have developed a technology that can store solar energy in a battery format to provide power without sunlight. This application will be used for both home and business usage, but the possibilities are endless. It will lessen the power on the grid, and in turn will lower energy costs. And the energy used will be cleaner than from other sources like gasoline and natural gas. This energy battery storage is not theoretical at this point, it is being utilized now by companies like Walmart in California now on a relatively small scale. But it works and when this huge factory Tesla is building in Nevada is complete they will be able to roll this out on a much larger scale. This is the future and it is happening right now. It is very exciting since there is really no downside or risk. I predict that this will be widely used in homes and businesses within 5 years. I can’t wait to use it and will do so as quickly as possible. As always thanks for reading and have a great day.


Wednesday, August 26, 2015

REDEVELOPMENT IN THE WORKS FOR 20TH STREET IN BOCA RATON

With the sudden rise of FAU to respectability and prominence, there is a new push to upgrade the area around the school. Riding off the success of building the new football stadium, both the school and City are turning their attention to 20th Street. Formerly the location of the main entrance to the school back in 1964, the street is now a secondary entry. The current tenant mix there includes lots of industrial and retail, all of which is outdated and in poor condition. The new plan would replace all of that with pedestrian walkways, improved landscaping, stores, restaurants, apartments and maybe even a movie theater. Right now the school has commissioned a planning study which should be completed next year. The goal is to create something of a college town where the students have a place of their own. They are hoping to hang school banners there and hold football game day parades. Part of the reason for this redevelopment is to make the school more appealing for full time students. Former FAU coach Schnellenberger is doing his part, and hopes to open Coach Schnellenberger’s Steakhouse & Sports Theater this fall. It will be a sports themed restaurant much like the restaurants he had in the past. I think this is going to happen, and it is part of the natural evolution of FAU. As the school becomes more popular and grows it needs the infrastructure around it to grow with it to remain competitive. I think within 5 years FAU and 20th Street will be things that everyone can be proud of and I can’t wait to see it happen. As always thanks for reading and have a great day.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

TECH CONFERENCE PROMOTES SOUTH FLORIDA AS TECH HUB

After the 2nd annual eMerge Americas conference in Miami there are some notable differences from last year. First is the increased attendance, up to 10,000 people from 6,000, an incredible jump of 66% in just one year. The second is the increased international reach, with this year seeing new visitors from China and the Middle East. South Florida has been trying to diversify its economy forever and making it into a place known for technology has always been one of the goals. We are making strides and this conference is really helping to promote and accelerate these efforts. Like the biotech industry, there is hope that these technology companies who located here will attract others. This is happening, and not just in South Florida but across the state. While I know California is cool and New York has everything, Florida has great weather and no income tax. Plus, compared with those state our housing is extremely affordable. Additionally, tech related projects are sprouting up and thriving all across Florida now, so there are even more choices for companies that are considering relocating here. I think we have a good tech foundation here and hopefully we can continue to build on it. It would be great to eventually become known for it, like a Silicon Valley, etc. What a great way to diversify the economy! Perhaps soon we will be known more for tech and our ports than tourism. As always thanks for reading and have a great day.  


Wednesday, July 29, 2015

ROSENFELD RESTAURANT REVIEW: JET’S PIZZA BOCA RATON

Did you think I only went to fine dining restaurants?? Hardly and you should know that one of my favorite foods is pizza. So I was very intrigued when I read that this chain, Jet’s Pizza, was aggressively moving into South Florida. After further investigation, I was surprised to find that their Boca Raton location was on Glades Rd. in West Boca Raton, just a few miles from my house. After quickly checking out their web site, and liking what I saw, I was thrilled to discover that they deliver to my house! It is really hard to find a good pizza delivery restaurant in West Boca so I was going to have to try it out. I had heard good things about it from others, and they have something that is very hard to find from a real restaurant, deep dish pizza. They have lots of options of deep dish pies, and traditional thin crust as well. They do have something that I have never seen before at  any pizza place: the ability to customize your crust with things like flavors and sesame seeds, poppy seeds, etc. I went with a small deep dish and small thin pizza, both with mushrooms. I got both pies with a sesame crust, which was very good. Clearly it was the first time they visitied my community since they called and needed some directions. But they eventually made it and I was really happy they did! The deep dish was great, and the thin pizza was pretty good. I am fairly sure that they have opened 4 locations in South Florida and are looking for more. I would strongly recommend this place and look forward to having deep dish pizza on a regular basis now. I would love to hear about your favorite restaurant or one you have just been to recently and enjoyed. Don’t be shy! Sharing is caring. As always thanks for reading and have a great day.

Monday, July 13, 2015

NEW BASEBALL STADIUM DETAILS RELEASED


Well now that we finally got the spring training baseball stadium and saved East Coast spring training baseball, what is the new stadium going to look like? Details were released yesterday and include some interesting design features. How about underground parking for players and team executives? How about grass berm seating around most of the outfield? They will even have a giant net along Military Trail to protect passing motorists from practice field home runs. The stadium will have 6,500 seats and with the berm seating (2,000) the total capacity will be 8,500. The teams will have 2 story buildings behind home plate and left field that will function as clubhouses, offices and locker rooms. Bullpens will be behind the outfield walls, unlike Roger Dean where they have the bullpens in foul territory. There will be 6 entrances, with the main entrance off of Haverhill Road. The entire stadium will be surrounded by a 10 foot wide exercise trail. Even details on landscaping were released. At the end of the day this project might even be better than initially envisioned. I really think it will lift the entire area and spur new development there. The area now is terrible and this site where the stadium will be built is a landfill. I am very excited about this project, if you couldn’t tell already, and cannot wait to go see games there in 2017. I also can’t wait to see this area change for the better. As always thanks for reading and have a great day.

How new baseball stadium will use grassy berms, underground parking

Thursday, July 9, 2015

SOUTH FLORIDA FINALLY EMBRACING MIXED USE PROPERTIES

It has taken a long time to get here but it has finally happened. South Floridians are moving back to downtowns and moving into apartments. They are doing this in part because they want the ability to walk to work, restaurants, etc. Right now there is only one model for this new urban living in South Florida, a high rise residential apartment building with retail and or office space on the ground floor. While this is a relatively new concept for Florida, larger cities like New York and Chicago have been using this product type for hundreds of years successfully. It does create more density, which is what Florida cities are trying to accomplish, while cutting down on traffic by allowing people to do more walking. In theory this makes perfect sense and has many health benefits to boot. But there is one factor that must be accounted for, which is the heat that we have here for 6 months out of the year. It is the same reason that lifestyle centers have largely struggled here, because people don’t want to walk around in extreme heat and rain. But people are speaking with their wallets on this issue, and the result is almost overwhelming. They want this type of lifestyle and will make sacrifices to get it, and are buying these types of apartments quickly. So get used to seeing people crossing the street on foot when you are stopped at a traffic light, and walking on the streets in general. A mixed use property is coming to your neighborhood soon. As always thanks for reading and have a great day.

That village vibe: S. Floridians embracing developments with residential, retail units

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

BAHIA CABANA READY TO UNDERGO REDEVELOPMENT


This one had me at the rendering! Especially if you are familiar with the Bahia Cabana property and how it looks today. If so you know this rendering is maybe a twenty time improvement over the current design. I think the developer, Randolph Equity Partners, had to really go above and beyond since they were looking to expand the density so much. The property currently is a 70 room hotel. What is proposed is a 196 room hotel and 112 condominiums. They are also going to build restaurants and retail along with a marina and pedestrian pathways. This not a done deal and in fact is conditioned now on a land swap. The owner would receive 2 parcels at 1001 & 1015 Seabreeze Blvd. in exchange for a .38 acre lot where the owner would build a new $4.5 million dollar fire station. Sounds like a fair deal to me considering there is an estimated $100 million dollar economic impact to go along with hundreds of permanent jobs. The redevelopment is expected to cost $160 million dollars. It has the potential to really impact and transform this southern portion of Ft, Lauderdale beach, which is badly needed and overdue. Looks like a win win deal to me and takes a good part of Ft. Lauderdale Beach into the future. I am rooting for it and promise to let you know how it turns out, one way or the other. As always thanks for reading and have a great day.

Bahia Cabana owner plans major redevelopment along Fort Lauderdale beach


Monday, June 22, 2015

1,000 HOMES COME AVAILABLE FOR TOURISM IN CUBA THANKS TO AIRBNB

I predicted that the major tourism surge from the U.S. to Cuba would come by cruise boat, mainly because there just weren’t enough hotel rooms there. While I still think that is true, the “hotel” inventory just grew dramatically thanks to Airbnb. They are the American online home rental service. It is a really cool thing since I think it will really allow visitors to have a much more authentic visit, really seeing how people live and getting a feel for their culture. This can be done much more effectively in someone’s home than a hotel or cruise ship. While it has only been a few months, Airbnb is part of a growing number of American companies who have already established business relations in Cuba. IDT Corp out of New Jersey established the first direct calls between the countries. Netflix and Mastercard are there as well, albeit in limited capacity at this point given the existing restrictions. I think once you crack open the door of capitalism it is awful hard to shut and control. How quickly will this happen here? Depends a lot on the removal of the embargo and the sponsorship of terrorism designation. That looks like it is about to be lifted within the month and then we will see what happens in the Senate. It is fair to say that this has a lot of momentum and with all the problems happening in the world now this could be a rare diplomatic victory for the U.S. It is within our sights now, so close to happening. I cannot wait to visit there and hope that the Cuban people will get the opportunity for freedom they so badly deserve. There is a lot at stake here indeed, much more than just money. As always thanks for reading and have a great day.

Airbnb offers Cuba lodgings in major US business expansion

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

PLOT OF LAND NEARLY THE SIZE OF RHODE ISLAND ON SALE IN FLORIDA

I really love living in Florida. Every day I wake up I am thankful for being able to live here. One of the things that always strikes me is the raw beauty of the nature we have. Between lizards, insects, birds, etc. there is rarely a dull moment out West where I live. And there is so much undeveloped land, wherever you look out West, it is sort of comforting. Nonetheless I was shocked to see this article, about the largest contiguous tract of undeveloped private land East of the Mississippi River, going on the market for sale. The size is 560,000 acres, which is nearly the size of Rhode Island. It is expected to bring $1 billion dollars or more when it finally sells. It is located on the gulf coast just south of the Panhandle in Northern Florida between Tallahassee and Gainesville. It is owned by the Foley Timber and Land Company and largely consists of forest now. Prospective buyers are expected to include real estate investment trusts, pension funds, university endowments, and sovereign wealth funds, all of whom are attracted to stable long term investments like timberland. I have never heard or seen of a plot of land this size being sold, anywhere. It is amazing to think about how big it is and all the possibilities that it will become. How fast will it happen? It will be very interesting to see and I promise to let you know as soon as a buyer is announced. As always thanks for reading and have a great day.

560,000-Acre Swath of Florida Land Going on the Market

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

HOW DO YOU BEAT CLIMATE CHANGE? RAISE UP


“The only tried and true solution to combating rising seas levels is to rise with it,” said Eric Carpenter, public works director for the city of Miami Beach. Does it sound crazy? Makes a lot of sense to me and I bet it is the most viable and cost effective way to battle the rising water levels. Already Miami is raising its lowest roads and sidewalks 1.5 – 2 feet. More from Carpenter, “There’s a very real possibility that the entire city’s infrastructure – roads, buildings, parks – will need to be elevated an extra 2, 3 or even 4 feet over the next 100 years.” Now you start to see just how serious this problem is facing South Florida. And make no mistake about it, it is the entire region not just Miami. But Miami does have it worst given their low sea level so it makes sense that they are starting the process of how to deal with it sooner than later. But the building codes everywhere will have to be changed and if it happens soon enough we will be ready when it happens. There is a lot at stake here, not the least being flood and home insurance premiums, which are already the highest in the nation. You will be hearing a lot more about this in the coming years as politicians face this new reality and start planning and budgeting accordingly. If they can do it in Holland we can do it here. Look at Key West for a closer example. As always thanks for reading and have a great day.

An Idea To Mitigate Rising Seas In Miami Beach: Lift The Entire City


Wednesday, May 27, 2015

SOUTH FLORIDA HAS BECOME THE 5TH LEAST AFFORDABLE PLACE TO LIVE IN THE U.S.

Sorry there was no photo associated with this article. It always makes me wonder, every time I see the announcement of another new multifamily development (which happens almost daily these days), how can they all be geared towards luxury buyers? I mean are there really that many people out there looking to spend over a million dollars for a high rise apartment in South Florida? I think the jury is still out on that one but the affordability market study is truly alarming. What it shows clearly is that home prices are outpacing wage growth, resulting in making South Florida the 5th least affordable place to live in the U.S. The list reads number 1 is S. Francisco, San Diego, Los Angeles, New York and then South Florida. It just can’t be sustainable and really leads you to wonder when it will all blow up again. Our housing market is tough to figure out because there is so much foreign capital, like the other least affordable markets, and it is affected by things that take place in other countries. It seems like it is too much too fast again, but the banks are being way more cautious this time around. And so are the developers so maybe this time will be different. This cycle will last at least another 2 years so we can see where we are then, hopefully still building and not realizing that we overbuilt (again). As always thanks for reading and have a great day.

Homes hard to afford in S. Florida

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

MIXED USE PROJECT TO REPLACE GOLF COURSE IN WEST PALM BEACH

I told you that one of the endangered species of a hot market was the golf course, along with trailer parks, and this is a story about one of these. You see these types of properties have huge tracts of land and when times are good there is no question that more money can be made by redeveloping the project. The main ingredient is always residential, and that is usually paired with retail and sometimes office space as well. In this case, The Patriot Golf Course, along Congress Avenue and Palm Beach Lakes Blvd., will transformed into the Sea Palm Resort. The new property will feature 94 single family homes, a 4 story hotel that will have 102 rooms, 48 condos and a 5,000 square foot spa. Before long this 119 acre golf course will be a thriving mixed use development that will be beautiful to look at. I really call this kind of development progress, and it is a win win deal in my opinion for both the developer and the City, who will see their tax coffers rise with the deal. Expect to see many more deals like this come together over the next 24 months. Golf is out for sure and development is back in a huge way. Land is just too valuable again to be used for golf and trailer parks and the banks are lending again. As always, thanks for reading and have a great day.

West Palm Beach approves golf course conversion project


Monday, May 11, 2015

WEST PALM BEACH CONSIDERS SKYWAY TO ASSIST PEDESTRIANS ON OKEECHOBEE BLVD.

This is sort of a funny one, but has some serious issues as well. For years the restaurants and merchants at City Place have waiting for the hotel across the street. They imagined it bringing thousands more customers through their doors. Now it is getting very close to opening and they just realized that it is really difficult and dangerous to cross the street to get there! SO, in part thanks to a 1,500 person citizen’s petition (all business owners at City Place?), Palm Beach County is now discussing with the traffic engineers and Florida Dept. of Transportation about the possibility of building a walkway over Okeechobee Blvd., the 8 lane street. This is something that if adopted, could be seen in many other instances in several different cities throughout the region. The trend towards walkability is running hot now and many cities are looking for ways to make that happen. There is an amazing and comprehensive plan being hatched now for the Cypress Creek area (now rebranded as Ft. Lauderdale North or Uptown) that you will be seeing soon. They will be turning the 8 lane Cypress Creek Rd. into 2 four lane roads to increase access for pedestrians. One can only hope that all the cities are looking at each other for ideas and that they can take the best of these and implement them all over the South Florida region to create a standard of walkability. Aside from the improved safety and aesthetics, there is a significant health benefit involved, getting people more exercise. And it gets more cars off the road, helping the environment. What is not to love? As always thanks for reading and have a great day.

Skywalk over Okeechobee Boulevard at CityPlace could become reality

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

ABACOA TOWN CENTER SELLS FOR $5.1 SIGNALING REBIRTH OF AREA

Abacoa Town Center finally changed hands for an amazingly reasonable number of $5.1 million dollars, which comes to just over $55 per square foot. While it is 30% vacant, at this number the new local owners could afford to do deals at very aggressive numbers and still make money. I think that the timing might finally be right for this special little area that comes alive every March for spring training baseball for a 5 week period every year. The new movie theater/bowling alley is going to open this year, making it the only thing of its kind in the area. It will surely draw families and people looking for entertainment. A new 350,000 square foot shopping center is going to be built across the street. Jupiter’s first brewing company, Civil Society Brewing Co., will be opening there this year. But more important than anything else, the 300 apartment Allure is opening, bringing badly needed population here to support the businesses at Abacoa. Finally, there is the new 128 room Courtyard Marriot, allowing for possibilities of more tourism other than the spring training crowd. This is a great little area with what I think is a perfect mixed use community. It is safe, quiet, close to the highway but will never have thriving businesses until you have enough people living there to support them. After all these years I think it is finally coming together and I couldn’t be happier. As always thanks for reading and have a great day.

Abacoa booming, but will people come?

http://www.mypalmbeachpost.com/news/news/abacoa-booming-but-will-people-come/nkbWN/#db211d36.3711057.735698

Monday, May 4, 2015

ECONOMIC RECOVERY REVIVES TALKS OF TURNPIKE EXPANSION

There are many benefits to economic boom times but one of my favorite is road expansions. Since I live out West I use the Turnpike and Sawgrass Expressway as much as possible. So I was thrilled to read that the expansion of Florida’s Turnpike is back under consideration. There is a 5 year plan that will be rolled out in 4 separate segments. The scope of the expansion is the entire Palm Beach County portion of the expressway. The problem is that there is no money at this time to get the project started. The deal is all backwards, with plans prior to funding. So the plan now is to make sure everything is in place for the time when the money comes available, although it usually happens the other way. Typically you first get money for a project and then plan it out. The demand is there, almost at pre- recession traffic levels, so clearly there is a need for this to happen. And with the expansion of I – 75 taking place now, this would further ease access in the Western areas that would allow for more development and businesses relocating there. These types of projects are so exciting because they stand the test of time, regardless of the economy. Once they happen they can never be undone and I think it is inevitable that this is going to happen. With the way we have been collecting taxes these days it shouldn’t be long. And I am going to be really happy when it does! As always thanks for reading and have a great day.

8-lane Florida’s Turnpike in PBC? Plans are launched

Monday, April 27, 2015

BOYNTON VILLAGE FINALLY HAPPENING, BRINGING 1,108 HOMES

Yet another long dormant project is being revived, this time in Boynton Beach. There is an enormous tract of land behind the Boynton Town Center on Congress Ave, widely considered to the center of the city. Back in 2005 1,120 town homes, apartments and single family homes were approved behind the retail shopping center. The retail center was built and the residential was not. Now it is back, reborn as 1,108 residences and a 24,000 square foot sober home facility. It will have a 3 acre park, with 1 acre dedicated to dog parks. The new found population behind the retail should bolster the retail stores and add needed population to downtown Boynton. Given the long time to complete this project, this is a good time to talk about development. The cycle typically takes between 3 and 5 years to build something, depending on what type of project and what city it will be built in. That timeframe could change either way if there are problematic issues with zoning, environmental, traffic, etc. There is a degree of risk in any development since you cannot control the market, which could go for or against you during this time. All the while you are spending money preparing a site plan and trying to get it approved by the city. Once you have that you are in a position to get real construction estimates and begin marketing. Before you can receive financing you must have a certain percentage of space leased in a commercial development or a certain amount of apartments sold, unless it self-financed which is rare. And you thought you wanted to be a developer? Not so easy, and large risks. But large rewards are possible as well as many multifamily developers could tell you these days. Will this one work with a sober home attached to it? Time will tell, since other than that this sounds like it has all the makings of a successful mixed use project. As always thanks for reading and have a great day.
http://adadvisor.net/adscores/g.js?sid=9212244187&_kdpid=2111c0af-fc3a-446f-ab07-63aa74fbde8e
Boynton approves 1,108-residence Cortina development [The Palm Beach Post, Fla.]

Monday, April 20, 2015

LARGEST MALL IN THE U.S. COMING TO MIAMI?

It is still at least 6 to 8 years away, but plans have been made to create the largest mall in the U.S. in Northwest Dade. Triple Five, the developer who owns the Mall of America and West Edmonton Mall, has announced the plans for American Dream Miami. It would be built on a 200 acre site and will go before the county commission in March for a preliminary vote. While there haven’t been a ton of details released on it yet, the new park is expected to have an indoor ski slope and a water park, among other attractions. Another of them would be a submarine ride that would allow visitors to view a live coral reef. There would be large rides both indoors and outdoors. The economic impact of such a huge project would be equally huge. It would create thousands of jobs and more development would follow it, particularly hotels, restaurants and gas stations. It fills a void in the area for an amusement park and would capitalize on the already healthy tourism market. Locals would enjoy and utilize it along with the tourists and it would generate millions in tax revenues. What is not to like? Northwest Dade has always struggled compared with the rest of the city but this project would immediately transform the area, and make it onto the list of every tourist itinerary. I think it would also help generate development in Southwest Broward as well, which would be close by. Just when you think that Miami is finally done with no room left for further development an announcement like this appears. It really makes you wonder what is next, and I promise you can read about it here once it is announced. As always thanks for reading and have a great day.

Proposed multi-million-dollar mall, theme park is perfect for South Florida, analyst says


Wednesday, April 15, 2015

ROSENFELD RESTAURANT REVIEW: CHANSON

Every once in a while I will find a nugget of a restaurant through all the reading I do. This was the case last night when we visited the Royal Blues Hotel in Deerfield Beach, home to Chanson. This hotel is the first Relais & Chateaux in Florida, a chain known for exceptional lodging and dining. It is owned by a guy named Edward Walson, a Hollywood filmmaker and Broadway producer/director. It is rare when someone just wants to have something that is of the highest quality and really doesn’t care about profits. That is the case here at this 44 seat restaurant, that caught my eye by saying it had 5 star service and dining like New York City. The look of the place is amazing, specifically a 1,500 gallon fish tank on the ceiling which cannot be ignored. Everything is very chic and cool looking. It is right next to the ocean.

There is not a large menu and the staff will not make any changes to the dishes, fortunately they didn't need to. After some initial frustration, I finally settled on 2 entrees instead of the normal appetizer and entrée. But the first one was scallops, so it was not huge. But it was amazing, prepared with a sort of Indian spice (madras curry porridge) and vegetables. My brother Seth had a Maine lobster dish and my friend Bob had the Ahi tuna. While there were not tons of wines by the glass, the options they had were good. The entrees didn't disappoint either, I went with the black grouper, which was a snapper substitute instead, served with vegetables, brother had the Bronzino and Bob went with the tagliatele with san marzano tomatoes. While I loved my snapper, I was particularly impressed with the pasta. Sounds like the most simple thing but it was exceptional. Everyone loved their food and we were really impressed by now. Given that there were only 4 desert choices we decided to get them all despite being only a party of 3. I went with the s’mores, brother had the lemon meets pistachio and Bob with the lift me up which was an espresso sponge cake with mousse and caramel. We shared the Laura’s Pumpkin Pie. An amazing surprise occurred when I realized that they had one of the best desert wines I have ever had, called Gold by Deerfield Ranch Winery. We got a bottle of that and there was none left before long. This was one of the best restaurants I have been to in Florida or anywhere for that matter. If you want to treat yourself to an amazing experience you need to try this place. I cannot wait to return! As always thanks for reading and have a great day.

Monday, April 13, 2015

UNITED TECHNOLOGIES EXPANDING IN PALM BEACH COUNTY


Sorry there was no photo associated with this article. This deal could soothe the wounds created by the news of Office Depot leaving. Yes another Fortune 500 company is looking to settle here and make a huge investment in Palm Beach County. United Technologies, already with 70 employees in the area, would be adding 380 jobs with average salaries of $85,000 in the creation of a regional headquarters. They are looking to build a 280,000 square foot office building in the Briger tract in Palm Beach Gardens. The building would cost $115 million dollars to construct. If it happens, and it looks like it will, it will have a 5 year economic impact of $662 million dollars. Right now the land isn’t properly zoned for this use so it must be voted on by the Palm Beach Gardens City Council. But if it is not approved they will go elsewhere (North Carolina) and take the 70 jobs with them so I like the chances here. If United Technologies doesn’t sound familiar you may recognize Pratt & Whitey, Carrier Air Conditioning and Otis Elevators, which it owns. It is very exciting that another large company wants to expand its presence here. This could give some badly needed momentum to the Briger development and could attract more companies to the area. Speaking of which, there is another large company, unnamed as of yet, that is also looking to bring 300 jobs to the area. Keep your fingers crossed, this could be a great month for Palm Beach county. As always thanks for reading and have a great day.

United Technologies could bring 380 jobs at $85,000+ to county