The city’s blighted northwest section might be land-locked, but its vacant lots could soon become waterfront property.

City officials say they plan to build a set of canals in a kind of project never before seen in Florida. And once it is complete, they hope that high-density housing, hotels, restaurants and stores will then be built around it.

River Walk in San Antonio, built in the 1930s, is the model, said Emily Marcus, a project manager with the city’s redevelopment agency.

“Pompano is a blank slate to really develop properly,” said Nguyen Tran, who oversees northwest redevelopment.

A main canal would run along the half-mile stretch between Interstate 95 and Dixie Highway, north of Atlantic Boulevard and south of Northwest Third Street. A concept drawing shows small canals also running north to south. Currently, the only other canal in the area runs underneath Atlantic Boulevard.

In this new vision, pedestrian bridges would invite strolling over the main canal. Sidewalks and seawalls would line the waterway. It would build on the ambience created in the last two years with the opening of two city-owned art venues in the area.

Carlos Adoriso, a county engineering supervisor, said he’s never heard of a project like this in the area before. But city officials are determined to transform this 38-acre swath of old houses, boarded-up structures and vacant lots into a place where people can work, live and go out for the evening without getting into a car.

“Pompano has very little urban housing for college graduates,” Marcus said. “You look at the millennials, who have the low rate of getting their driver licenses. They are looking to live in urban pedestrian locations.”

A designer for the project will be selected sometime this year. And city officials expect it will take two or three years before construction can start, depending on the speed of permits from the state and county. But some redevelopment is already starting to take place in the area.

The 731 Retail Shoppes, which the city redevelopment agency built and opened in 2014, was the first new retail in the area in 40 years, city officials say. It would be across the street from the main canal.

Last fall, ground was broken on City Vista, a 111-unit apartment complex with ground floor retail that the redevelopment agency will manage and that is within sight of the main canal.

 

Source: SunSentinel

In the late 1950s the Port of Palm Beach conducted more trade with Cuba than any other port in the world.

Starting in 1946, the West India Fruit and Steamship Co. transported everything from cars to fertilizer, household goods and food to Cuba from the Riviera Beach-based port, and Cuba sent commodities such as sugar, tomatoes, pineapple, and of course, rum, back on the ships.

The company began the Havana Car Ferry service in 1947. It offered a quick, reliable carload freight service between the port and Cuba, according to “Gateway,” a magazine the port used to publish. The trade ended in August 1961 when the U.S. imposed an embargo on all shipments to Cuba after Fidel Castro took control. Trade with Cuba made up half the port’s business, and when the trade ended, the port almost died. It had to borrow money to make payroll to pay its three employees.

On Friday morning, an important step toward once again ramping up trade with the island nation is scheduled to take place. A delegation from the National Port of Administration of Cuba and Port of Palm Beach officials will meet to sign a memorandum of understanding in the port’s boardroom.

The agreement outlines joint initiatives the two parties will undertake, stating that it is “within their mutual interest to establish an alliance of cooperation aimed at facilitating international trade and generating new business by promoting the all-water route between Asia, Europe, Latin America and the Gulf Coast of the United States through the Port of Palm Beach and the Ports of Cuba.”

Port of Palm Beach executive director Manuel “Manny” Almira, who was born in Cuba, said he has relentlessly pursued the project for the last six years. He has worked with the previous Cuban Ambassador Jorge Alberto Bolaños Suarez and now is working closely with Ambassador José Ramón Cabañas Rodríguez and Rubén Ramos Arrieta, minister counselor at the Economic & Trade Office, Cuban Embassy, who have requested that the Cuban government approve the agreement.

From what Almira has been told, only two other ports in Florida, Port Everglades in Broward County and Port of Tampa, have been selected to sign the agreement. Almira said he believes the accord is one of the many steps that would pave the way for a service or services to be established from the Port of Palm Beach to Cuba.

The Cuban delegation plans to make a presentation about the island nation’s Port Mariel special development zone, inland waterway, seaport capabilities and the foreign trade investment to local business people at the port and throughout Palm Beach County.

During its visit to Palm Beach County that starts on Thursday, the delegation will attend a Northern Palm Beach County Chamber of Commerce breakfast, have lunch on the Grand Celebration cruise ship based at the port, make a presentation to the Palm Beach County Commission and attend at event at CityPlace in West Palm Beach. The group will depart for Washington, D.C. on Saturday.

Port Mariel, on Cuba’s northwest coast, is one of three container ports, along with the ones from Santiago and Havana, but Mariel’s is the largest. Mariel opened its container terminal in 2014, and two-thirds of the $900 million project was financed by Brazil.

Mariel is planning its transformation into a major transshipment hub, and becoming the first port of call for “neo-Panamax,” the newer, larger container ships going through the Panama Canal to the U.S. according to published reports.

Some of the joint initiatives planned include marketing, market studies, modernization and improvements and training. Many other things have to occur before trade can begin. Any and all shipping lines expecting to establish service to Cuba must first meet and obtain the license from the Office of Foreign Asset Control, Department of U.S. Treasury.

“Once that license is obtained, then the company will need a license to operate in Cuba. One of the benefits of having an agreement is so that the port can direct businesses to the appropriate transportation ministers in Cuba,” Almira said.

A Cleveland-based owner and manager of medical office buildings bought one in Boynton Beach for $14.8 million.

Woodside Health bought the 50,000-square-foot Boynton Beach Medical Center. Bob Mion and John DePersio, agents of Coldwell Banker Commercial NRT, helped to close the deal, which closed at $296 per square foot.

The building at 10151 Enterprise Circle Boulevard in suburban Boynton Beach last sold in 2007 for $10 million, or $200 per square foot. The Palm Beach Post also reported that Barclays Bank made an $11.5 million mortgage loan to Woodside Health.’

 

Source: The Real Deal

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Michael Rauch, Senior Managing Partner with CRE Florida Partners and Rauch | Robertson & Co., recently negotiated the sale of an industrial property located at 741 NE 42ndStreet in Oakland Park.

The property, which sold for $1,440,000, or $96 per square foot, is a free-standing industrial building with a 1-acre adjacent outside storage yard. The building features 22’ clear ceiling height and several grade level overhead doors.

“This acquisition represents the ‘up-leg’ purchase of an IRC1031 tax free exchange,” explained Rauch. “We are very pleased to have successfully represented this buyer in both the ‘down-leg’ sale and ‘up-leg’ purchase phases of this tax free exchange.”

Rauch represented the buyer in the transaction.

 

 

 

 

Palm Beach County has been a party for developers during the past couple years. Comprehensive plan changes, zoning changes, they’ve won steady approval from county commissioners.

But November’s elections brought two new commissioners to the dais. The mayor’s gavel has been passed to a different commissioner. And early indications are that the music has stopped. The party might not be over – lots of approved projects have not yet been built – but the cover charge appears to be on the rise.

That’s rare and welcome news for environmentalists and preservationists, who have spent much of the past two years wailing in vain that the county was growing too much and in the wrong areas.

“It seemed to me that everything automatically passed,” said Drew Martin, conservation chair of the Loxahatchee group of the Sierra Club.

The list of agreed-to, pro-development requests has grown over the past two years.

Minto

In 2014, Minto Communities wanted land use changes to accommodate a massive project: 4,500 homes and the development of 2.1 million square feet of non-residential space in The Acreage.

After months of packed meetings, protests and complaints from environmentalists and preservationists, the commission voted 5-2 in favor of the request.

The county and Minto agreed to several conditions of approval dealing with such things as land set-asides for drainage, schools and parks. Minto, however, flipped the script on the county, backing the area’s incorporation as the new city of Westlake in a move that bewildered and angered commissioners.

It is unclear whether Minto must adhere to the conditions it negotiated with the county.

The Agricultural Reserve

Last fall, some land owners in the Agricultural Reserve, a 22,000-acre farming zone west of Boynton Beach and Delray Beach, wanted the county to lift restrictions limiting the type of parcels that could be used for preservation.

The county requires that 60 acres be set aside for every 40 that’s developed in the reserve. But if the parcel a developer wanted to use to meet that preservation requirement was smaller than 150 acres, it had to be contiguous to another parcel already in preservation.

The goal was to allow for some development in the reserve while at the same time preserving much of it for agriculture.

But smaller landowners complained that the rules unfairly depressed the value of their land, forcing them to remain in unprofitable nursery or farming operations.

Those landowners pressed commissioners to scrap the so-called contiguity rule, and, with a vote of 5-2, that’s just what they did.

Indian Trails Grove

In September, GL Homes asked the county to change its comprehensive plan to accommodate a project including 3,900 homes and the development of 350,000 acres of non-residential space on 4,900 acres west of 180th Ave. N. and south of Hamlin Road.

Environmentalists and preservationists made familiar arguments — too much development, too much stress on roads. The commission voted 6-1 to grant GL Homes’ request.

Iota Carol (AKA Delray Linton Groves)

An affiliate of a Newport Beach, Calif. investment firm asked the county to change its comprehensive plan to accommodate a project including 1,030 homes on 1,288 acres west of The Acreage.

Again, environmentalists and preservationists asked commissioners to deny the request, and commissioners again refused.

Zoning changes for the Indian Trails Grove and Delray Linton Groves projects are expected to come before the commission this year.

 

That commission is different from the one that approved development requests over the past couple years.

Shelley Vana and Priscilla Taylor, consistent votes in favor of development projects, have been replaced on the commission by Dave Kerner and Mack Bernard.

And the mayor’s gavel has been passed from Mary Lou Berger, who has also favored development projects, to Paulette Burdick, who has been the commission’s most persistent critic of them.

The changes have had an immediate impact.

In December, the county debated whether it should agree to sell 571 acres in the Agricultural Reserve it owns jointly with the South Florida Water Management District.

The 571 acres are part of a larger tract the county purchased in 2000 using public money raised to acquire land for preservation or agriculture. Two years later, the water management district purchased a 61 percent stake in the 571 acres with plans to use it as the site of a reservoir.

The district no longer plans to have a reservoir built there and wants to sell the land. Because the land is jointly owned, the county would have to agree to the sale.

Environmentalists and preservationists said the sale could one day lead to more development in the reserve.

A majority of the commission — Burdick, Melissa McKinlay and the two new commissioners, Kerner and Bernard — said they weren’t prepared to vote in favor of a sale.

The commission eventually voted to conduct a joint meeting with the district’s board of governors to see if it’s possible to head off possible legal action over the land.

“They are showing they are being more moderate,” said Karen Marcus, a former commissioner. “These folks are more skeptical of projects.”

Burdick, denied the gavel in a rebuke two years ago, now has broad authority to set the terms of debate. As chairwoman of commission meetings, she can decide not to accept a motion and extend or restrict the time allotted to speakers.

In addition to zoning requests on big projects, commissioners this year are expected to conduct a workshop on the county’s workforce housing program, set up to require developers to include lower-cost housing in their projects.

Developers don’t like the requirement and have frequently exercised their right to pay a fee in lieu of building the less expensive housing. Burdick has argued that the buy-out costs should be scrapped or raised so the county gets more money to help provide affordable housing or developers are more inclined to build it.

When the program was discussed in the past, Burdick’s frustration with the buy outs would induce eye rolls from colleagues who argued that developers were merely exercising their rights under the program.

The new commission, however, has chosen her as mayor.

“That they selected Commissioner Burdick to be the mayor, that was thoughtful,” Marcus said.

Burdick said she does not believe she alone can make the commission more wary of development projects.

“I’m only one voice,” she said. “I am hopeful that my new colleagues will look at the economic impacts of some of these new projects.”

That some projects have already moved forward through comprehensive plan changes does not mean zoning changes will follow, Burdick said, adding that she does not believe the rejection of zoning requests will automatically prompt lawsuits from developers.

“We’re not taking away any of their current entitlements,” Burdick said.

 

Source:  Palm Beach Post