brightline train

Brightline station is coming to Boca Raton. It’s not official. But it’s obvious.

On Tuesday, September 24th, the city council members heard details from Virgin Trains USA executives about the company’s revised offer.

“Brightline has moved a lot,” said Jeremy Rodger.

And he’s correct. Gone is the company’s demand that the city donate two pieces of land in addition to the parcels for the station and a parking garage next to the downtown library. Virgin Trains now wants only first dibs on an option from the city for those properties. Gone is the demand that the city build a pedestrian walkover. Virgin Trains now will help the city seek federal or state money for the project. Gone is the demand that the city pay for a shuttle.

Most notably, gone is the demand that the city pay the entire cost of the parking garage. Company officials said that Virgin Trains USA would pay for the 58 spaces for library patrons that construction would displace.  The city would pay based on the 342 spaces for train passengers. There is no estimate for the cost of the 400-space garage, but current industry figures cite a price of about $20,000 per space.

Mayor Scott Singer noted that the council only was telling City Manager Leif Ahnell to proceed further with negotiations. But the council members’ comments revealed what the outcome will be.

— Andy Thomson: Virgin Trains has “heard us loud and clear on our concerns.” The company has acted in “good faith” and been “responsive and forthcoming.”

— Andrea O’Rourke: “We have to move forward.”

— Rodgers: “A lot of good can come from this.”

— Mayor Scott Singer: The new offer “feels more like a partnership.”

— Monica Mayotte: “This will be a very good addition to our city.”

Virgin Trains felt confident enough to prepare a statement before the meeting and hand it out afterward: “This marks another significant step in expanding Virgin Trains to Boca Raton.”

Not that everyone’s happy. Residents of Library Commons, which is north of the library, packed the chambers Tuesday to complain about the size of the garage and how near it will be to their community. Company officials say they will work Library Commons residents on lighting and setbacks.

Though the library still would have 181 overall parking spaces, members of the Friends of the Library expressed concern about patrons getting from the garage to the library. Virgin Trains said passengers and patrons would use separate entrances and that the company would provide security in the garage.

One major question, however, remains: What might Virgin Trains—or a developer partner—do with that city land if the company acquires it?

Boca Raton had designated land east of the library for a train station. That decision envisioned commuter service—station and parking only.

Optioning the land, however, could put added development next to the library and Library Commons. Jose Gonzalez is executive vice president for real estate development of Virgin Trains’ parent company. He told council members that the possibilities include residential, office or a hotel. Those possibilities worry the Friends of the Library, who already weren’t too keen on the garage.

 “The station isn’t the end of the story.” one speaker said,

Gonzalez said the idea of building on that city land “might go nowhere.” But officials in West Palm Beach and Fort Lauderdale tout the stations’ role in spurring development. Gonzalez wants Virgin to have an “exclusive conversation” about the properties and “preserve our optionality.” Delaying that decision delays the potentially more controversial aspect of the station.

Virgin Trains wants a vote from the council next month. The company would like to open the station by the end of next year. At this point, there’s no reason to think that won’t happen.


Source: Boca Magazine


Boynton Beach‘s brewery district, like any area defined by a particular characteristic, is bound by its cluster of brewing companies.

The city joins a tiny club of municipalities in South Florida that have such an amenity. North Miami Beach made one in 2018 to entice new or established brewers via incentives even though it has no breweries yet.

Beer tourism has become a draw for cities. A survey commissioned by the Brewers Association in 2016 found that individuals went to 2.1 breweries on average in the past 12 months while visiting a city for a beer event. Travelocity even created a “beer tourism index” to show where “beercations” (vacations for the sole purpose of visiting breweries) are most popular, but South Florida doesn’t make the list.

Such districts tend to give an economic boost to their host cities, according to David Scott, Boynton Beach‘s director for economic development and strategy. But he adds that areas must already have the “organic” appeal before a city designates such a district.

The brewing companies CopperpointNOBO, and Due South existed before the creation of the district. Boynton Beach‘s brewery district doesn’t have geographic boundaries but is located in the industrial area of the city just west of I-95 or where breweries are normally permitted. There’s also Non-Prophet Brewing Company, which brews kombucha.

Scott uses Miami‘s arts neighborhood of Wynwood, home to at least four breweries and another the way, as an example of that kind of magnetism. With development experience in Atlanta and Baltimore, Scott immediately recognized the potential for his city.

“When we approach planning from that perspective, we look to create those destinations, or what I call experience centers,” Scott says. “Here we have an experience with a brewery district. We like to say that we’re progressive.”

The city lends a hand with encouraging breweries to grow by offering money known as community development block grants to help with construction. Only one brewery, Copperpoint Brewing Company, took advantage of such a grant, according to Boynton Beach special projects coordinator John Durgan.

These funds are separate from the city’s interior buildout and rent reimbursement grants, Durgan says, adding they’re not just for breweries. Other South Florida cities, such as Fort Lauderdale and North Miami, have awarded grant money to breweries.

Copperpoint‘s owner and head brewer, Matt Cox, says brewery and city officials sat through several roundtable meetings to create the district — which the city never really advertised.

Encompassing breweries in a special district and all within a relatively walkable distance from one other increases visibility from a tourist standpoint, Cox says. Visibility, and getting to the district without driving, is made even easier with a Tri-Rail station nearby. The existence of a brewery district could also be an ideal place for beer crawls. Cox calls it a “win” for everyone.

“You could drive down the road and not know we’re even here,” Cox says. “It kind of works well in numbers and creates a destination-type thing.”


Source: Miami New Times

West Palm Beach

Cash me out now?

Some West Palm Beach investors and business owners are selling real estate holdings to buyers hot on the downtown, including to businesses and investors coming to the city or expanding their presence here.

“Exterior of Glidden Spina building in West Palm Beach. (PHOTO CREDIT: Rob Woodham of Glidden Spina)

A prime example is Glidden Spina + Partners Architecture Interior Design Inc. In 2014, the firm paid $1.4 million for an old, empty building, the former Hopkins Marine Hardware store at 207 6th St.

After rehabbing the space, the firm sold the building for a whopping $6.8 million two months ago. The unnamed buyer is a company that plans a family office there, a part of town branded the Flagler Financial District.

Meanwhile, longtime West Palm Beach investor Jonathan Gladstone in recent months quietly sold two properties on Clematis Street for more than $6 million. A longtime local real estate investor, Gladstone said he’s starting to see the economy flash warning signs — even as outside investors continue to clamor for a piece of Florida real estate. In addition to his belief that the real estate market may be at its peak, Gladstone also is concerned about the stock market’s recent volatility and uncertainty over tariffs.

“I’ve been here for 35 years. It’s time for me to change things up,” Gladstone said of his Clematis Street divestments.

However, Gladstone said he still owns 114 Clematis Street in West Palm Beach, where Pizza Girls just signed another five-year lease.

With the continued influx of wealthy residents and investors fleeing high-tax states, not everyone is bearish on West Palm Beach. In fact, other property owners think there’s still plenty of room for new deals.

Up for sale is the longtime home of Pioneer Linens, the upscale home furnishings store at 210 Clematis Street. The family that runs the store also owns the building has the property listed for sale for $7 million. The price includes a prime, store-owned parking lot across the street at 209 Clematis Street.

In addition to the vast downstairs retail space, the 15,383-square-foot Pioneer Linens building, constructed in 1925, has upstairs storage space, too. Pioneer Linens building is a family-owned retailer from the prior century still doing business downtown, a rarity nowadays.

In a recent telephone interview, owner Penny Murphy didn’t want to talk much about the listing, but she said the store isn’t shutting down. The listing more is a testing of the market’s appetite for the property, at a time when Murphy is fairly fed up with the constant construction and disruption along Clematis Street.

Lately, the city has been working to turn the eastern end of Clematis Street into the same curb-less look done with the 300 block, in a bid to make the street more pedestrian friendly.

If the building sells for the price Murphy wants, she indicated a Pioneer Linens store would stay in business downtown, but she wasn’t specific. Given the sales activity in downtown lately, it’s possible Murphy could get her price.

Take the Glidden Spina building, which wasn’t even listed for sale. After buying the rundown building, Keith Spina spent $700,000 to design a cool, funky space that features a coffee bar and pool table. The property’s location is just steps from Flagler Drive and the waterfront.

Kelly Smallridge, president of the Business Development Board of Palm Beach County, said she was contacted by a broker representing the owner of a family office from the Northeast. The family office was looking around for space downtown but was keen for any other buildings that were available. Spina was open to a visit, Smallridge said.

Smallridge recalled that when Spina first bought the 6th Street marine supply store, he was ribbed about building out the firm in a 1950s-era building on a side street that no one even knows about. But who’s laughing now? The family office officials took one look at the Glidden Spina space, and that was that.

“They sent someone over who said, ’We’d love to have your building — and everything in it, ” Spina said.

As for Gladstone, the sale of the 537 and 539 Clematis building, now home to MedMen marijuana dispensary, caps years of frustration with the street. He tried for years to find a suitable retail tenant for the space, first bringing in Habatat Galleries and later Footwear & More shoe store.

Recently, the city changed zoning rules downtown to allow for non-retail uses on Clematis. That allowed him to lease the property to MedMen. Last month, a California-based real entity linked to a real estate investment trust bought the building.

The changed zoning rules also are giving a new use for the former Mac Fabrics building, which Gladstone recently sold an investment group. The 426 and 428 Clematis Street building will be the new West Palm Beach headquarters of Suffolk Construction,which built The Bristol luxury condominium on Flagler Drive.

Jeffrey Attanasio, Suffolk vice president of operations, said the company is looking forward to having a visible presence downtown and being part of the urban core.

“We’re very excited about it,”Attanasio said. “The 9,000 square foot space, which features tall ceilings, is being designed to allow for collaboration among the office’s 40 employees.”

He expects the offices to be completed by year-end. Suffolk’s new Clematis Street office will be convenient to the Virgin Trains/Brightline station, which employees already use to go to and from the Miami office.

“In addition, employees now working in the company’s Phillips Point office space are excited about being closer to lunch, art and entertainment options,” Attanasio said.

Suffolk isn’t the only company seeking to expand its presence downtown. Big Time Restaurant Group just bought another office next to its existing suite of offices at 400 Clematis Street.

“The restaurant company, which owns Rocco’s Tacos, City Cellar, Grease, Louie Bossi’s and Elisabetta’s, among other eateries, needs more space as it continues to expand operations,” said Big Time partner Todd Herbst.

Big Time’s second-floor offices are above the CVS on the southwest corner of Clematis Street and Dixie Highway. In October, Big Time will close on the purchase of a $1.1 million office that features 3,000 square space, substantially adding to its existing 5,000 square foot operation.

“With 17 restaurants, we need more space to put more people in human resources and accounts payable,” Herbst said.

Once the deal closes, Big Time plans to punch through the wall to create the bigger office complex.

As for Spina, he’s busy designing his new office space. He just leased 8,000 square feet in a ground-floor space part of Flagler Banyan Square, the mixed-use project being along Flagler Drive. The space is in ground-floor retail in the Oversea apartment complex on Olive Avenue. In addition to the apartments, Flagler Banyan Square will feature a hotel dubbed The Ben, plus a separate building that will house another Big Time-branded Italian restaurant.

Spina said he’s under the gun to get the space built out by a Dec. 1 move-in date. But he’s philosophical about the move.

“The city always is seeking to bring new business to the downtown,” Spina said. “And the story of his architecture building is one example of how it can be done.”

As a result, he’s bullish on the downtown’s prospects.

“I bought an old building, invested in it and brought 30 people to work there everyday,” Spina said. “Now we’ve got a company bringing 20 people and we’re going to expand into a new building. ”


Source: Palm Beach Post

With ‘almost nothing’ left to develop in Wellington, developers could set their sights on existing properties — and already are.

Take a look at the most recent applications for development in Wellington and you might notice a trend. Instead of eyeing open property for development, builders are pitching new uses for already-occupied land. It’s a redevelopment trend that residents can expect to see more of as the village largely is built-out, officials say.

Redevelopment is not a new concept for Wellington. In the Wellington Country Plaza on the corner of Forest Hill Boulevard and Wellington Trace, a former Blockbuster was transformed into a Starbucks and BurgerFi. Up the road at the corner of Wellington Trace and Greenview Shores Boulevard, a former Kentucky Fried Chicken drive-through restaurant was repurposed into a Taco Bell. And at the corner of State Road 7 and Forest Hill Boulevard, a small retail outparcel was torn down to make way for a Chase bank.

“Residents should get used to seeing properties transform,” Planning, Zoning and Building Director Bob Basehart said. “The available undeveloped land in the village is down to almost nothing.”

One of the largest undeveloped sites in Wellington is the K-Park property on the southwest corner of Stribling Way and State Road 7. The village-owned piece of land has been the subject of development speculation in the past, but right now is part of a land-bank effort with no plans in the foreseeable future, officials have said.

“Another 65 acres of open land is just north of Wellington Regional Medical Center. But plans are in the works to create a mixed-use hub there with residential, retail, assisted-living and more,” Basehart said.

So where can residents expect to see more redevelopment? Basehart pointed to four key areas.

The Mall at Wellington Green

While the mall has not submitted any formal applications, a recent Palm Beach Post public records request revealed the mall’s owner, Starwood Realty, is considering redeveloping the former Nordstrom anchor space and part of the surrounding parking lot. The project could include residential, retail, restaurants and outdoor recreation space, the records show.

Defunct Golf Courses

Neighbors in 2017 fought potential redevelopment on golf courses at Polo West and Palm Beach Polo and Country Club. The golf courses’ owners, a pair of companies controlled by developer Glenn Straub, had applied to change the uses allowed on the properties. The changes could have paved the way for development, opponents argued. Since then, several concepts have pitched for each club’s golf courses, including residential neighborhoods, equestrian properties and in one case a tennis ranch. None have made it past the concept phase.

Older Commercial Properties

Residents already can see redevelopment efforts on older commercial properties in Wellington. While not seeing a change in use, the McDonald’s at Greenview Shores and Wellington Trace is getting a significant facelift, including a lobby renovation and small expansion and a second drive-through order lane.

Along the State Road 7 corridor, the owner of the former Romano’s Macaroni Grill in front of Whole Foods has proposed tearing down the building to construct something larger that would house two smaller restaurants and a retail store.

Older Residential Properties

With more multifamily homes in Wellington passing the 40-year-old mark, Basehart said residents should expect to see some redevelopment happen here as well. In some places, property owners already have built larger or more modern homes after tearing down aging structures.


Source: Palm Beach Post

Development is catching up with Dania Beach, a once-sleepy city between Fort Lauderdale to the north and Miami to the south.

Antique shops and mom-and-pop restaurants have been joined in recent years by a new casino and the under-construction $800M mixed-use project Dania Pointe. Coming soon: a total redevelopment of the city center.

The Dania Beach City Commission just voted to move forward with a proposal from Virginia-based REIT Armada Hoffler Properties and Boca Raton-based Capital Group to build a modern municipal building, plus five apartment buildings, two office buildings and a hotel.

The milestone came after an eight-month bid process that started when the commission entered into an agreement in December with the Dania Beach Community Redevelopment Agency and Colliers International South Florida for real estate services. They sought bids for a public-private partnership for a mixed-use development on 6.42 acres of city-owned land valued at $12.3M at 100 West Dania Beach Blvd., currently home to City Hall, a fire station, two historic buildings and a 440-space parking garage.

Three bidders submitted proposals. An evaluation committee gave the highest rank to the partnership between Armada Hoffler Properties and Capital Group. Dania Beach’s five commissioners voted unanimously to begin negotiations with the pair of developers.

According to Armada Hoffler‘s proposal, they would develop The First at Dania Beach — “a Catalyst for Entrepreneurs, Artists and for a Cultural Renaissance.” The project is estimated to cost $634.2M.

Armada Hoffler would redevelop the property in three phases, building five 14-story apartment buildings, two nine-story office buildings and a 150-room hotel. City Hall would be demolished and rebuilt, housing new city offices, a library, a women’s club and the chamber of commerce all in one building. A parking garage would be expanded by two stories, and two historic buildings would be relocated.

Armada Hoffler would lease the government buildings back to the city for 20 to 30 years and ultimately turn them back over to the city. The city would give the developers a lease for $1 a year. The REIT would also purchase some land needed for private development.

Armada Hoffler proposed that the yearly lease rate for the municipal building and parking garage improvements “be between $1.03M and $1.33M depending on the final terms and conditions … The annual lease rates for the Fire Station is expected to be $151K and $180K.”

At last night’s city commission meeting, Kevin Greiner, a development planner with the FIU Metropolitan Center who sat on the evaluation committee, called it “a potentially transformative project for Dania Beach” and said that “the financial deal proposed to the city is excellent for the city … the economics are extremely exceptional from the city’s perspective.”

Planners had spent months getting input from a community charrette and developer focus group, he said. Housing would be 100% for middle income earners, and the project would include performance space and an option to eventually connect to Tri-Rail Rail’s Coastal Link, he said.

One resident complained that citizens hadn’t been well-informed about the proposal. “It smells fishy to me. I’m not sure who on the board is colluding,” the man said, insisting that current residents didn’t want an influx of thousands of new residents and cars. Commissioner Chickie Brandemarte worried about impacts on water resources, traffic and schools. Already, Dania Beach‘s population has grown 8.1% since 2010.

Various speakers stressed that the site was just a first step and that the particulars could be tweaked and decided upon in the coming months and years. Ultimately, the commission approved a resolution allowing the city manager to establish a negotiating team to move forward and negotiate with Armada Hoffler and Capital Group.


Source: Bisnow