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Many families and business executives relocate to Palm Beach County for a number of reasons.

Low taxes and no personal state income tax, the balmy winter days, and often an escape from the harried lives they led “back North” have lured them South.

What they’ve also found is both a burgeoning and existing business community representing many of the core sectors leading the charge into the new economy. These include information technology and telecommunications; healthcare and health tech; manufacturing, warehousing and logistics; business services; aviation, aerospace and engineering; even equestrian and agribusiness across thousands of open acres to the west.

The growth of financial services, private equity and investment banking has been so concentrated and profound, with names like Citadel, BlackRock and Goldman Sachs coming to town, the Palm Beaches have been coined “Wall Street South.”

What each finds is a pro-business, relocation-friendly infrastructure keen to launch, lure or retain new businesses. That’s atop the county’s enduring allure as a vacationer’s and business traveler’s destination. Travel and tourism in 2022 welcomed a record 9.1 million visitors with a total estimated economic impact of $9.7 billion.

It all continues to grow, adding to a county with over 1.5 million residents. Some 70% of business recruitment projects handled by the Business Development Board of Palm Beach County are from out of state, atop the 460 corporate headquarters already here. Topping the list: Carrier, TBC Corp., Office Depot, SBA Communications and ADT.

“We’re officially ‘Wall Street South,’ with many financial firms relocating from New York to the Countycounty, and we only see that trend accelerating as new Class A office buildings open within the next few years,” said BDB President and CEO Kelly Smallridge, whose organization in the last fiscal year landed 33 corporate relocations and expansions, secured some 2,500 jobs, and drove $362.5 million in capital investment. In fact, over half of those deals were from out of state. “With an A-rated public school district, 115 private and faith-based schools and world-class higher-ed, executives are learning Palm Beach County has the best opportunities for business and family.”

Today, the county is part of a tricounty region of over 6 million that’s the largest economic engine in a state that is the nation’s fourth largest, with $1.4 trillion in gross state product in 2022 and would be the 16th-largest economy if it were a sovereign nation, notes the International Monetary Fund.

Think of the county as a collection of 39 interconnected municipalities each adding to the greater whole. Eastside destinations, such as Boca Raton, Lake Worth and Delray Beach, bring culture, dining and entertainment that attracts visitors from across the region and world. To the west, Wellington is the global epicenter of winter equestrian sports.

The names of those calling the county home have changed its very reputation. Once known only as a vibrant vacation destination, today it’s a hub of business and industry. Ken Griffin’s Citadel and other investment and private equity firms are only the most recent arrivals to “Wall Street South,” the banking, financial services and insurance (BFSI) sector centered in West Palm Beach.

As a medical device manufacturing hub, Johnson & Johnson subsidiary DePuy Synthes, Precision Esthetics, SurGenTec and Boca Raton’s own Modernizing Medicine are among the hundreds here that make life sciences among the county’s hottest sectors.

The county’s diversity makes it a prime market for health care providers. Regional names, such as Cleveland Clinic Florida, Nicklaus Children’s Health System and Baptist Health each have made inroads in the county. Baptist, for example, acquired several hospitals – —Boca Raton Regional Hospital and two Bethesda hospitals in Boynton Beach – — and continues to add new services. These include institutes for cancer, vascular care, women’s health, neuroscience and orthopedics. In all, the county has 23 hospitals, from county-run facilities and leading national health care providers.

The county is a hotbed for higher education. Beyond the UF / Scripps deal, Palm Beach State College recently announced TGL, a new tech-infused virtual golf program and prime-time league co-founded by Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy, that will attract world-class golfers from around the world on its Palm Beach Gardens campus.

Palm Beach Atlantic University, which recently received Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business accreditation, unveiled a new state-of-the-art, six-story business complex planned for downtown West Palm Beach.

Florida Atlantic University (FAU), a top public university as ranked by U.S. News & World Report, is a significant contributor to the region’s economic growth and development. It awards more than 8,000 degrees annually, making it first in the nation for degree completion, as noted by the Association of Public & Land-grant Universities, and top 20 and top 40, respectively, for graduating African American students and Hispanic students with bachelor’s degrees.

FAU’s undergraduate entrepreneurship program is ranked 27th and the graduate program is ranked 42nd in the nation by The Princeton Review. FAU has received the Carnegie Community Engagement Classification, an elective designation that indicates institutional commitment to community engagement.

Another literally high-profile ranking: the school’s men’s basketball team last season had the best season in program history. It notched a school-record 35 wins, the nation’s best record (35-4), a perfect 17-0 record at home and a spot in the NCAA Tournament’s Final Four.

FAU’s various colleges – — of business, engineering, technology, life science and others – provide next-generation talent for the region’s growing workforce needs, often alongside career training organization, CareerSource Palm Beach County. As the region expands, employers are turning to such providers to prepare skilled workers.

Suffolk Construction, for example, partners with universities to build its pipeline, said Chris Kennedy, VP of preconstruction with the firm, whose list of work in the county includes The Bristol, Plumosa School of the Arts Expansion, The Strand, One City Plaza, and ongoing projects such as Palm Beach International Airport Concourse B Expansion, Royal Palm Residences in Boca Raton and the Ritz-Carlton Residences Palm Beach Gardens.

Among the talent it seeks are those skilled in construction management services, including such lines as its real estate capital investment, design, self-perform construction services, technology start-up investment and innovation research/development.

“We are seeing more seasoned construction professionals start to retire, so the need for younger talent is even more dire,” added Jay Fayette, Florida East Coast president for Suffolk.

To the west, the aviation, aerospace and engineering sector is home to over 1,600 companies, led by Pratt & Whitney, Lockheed Martin, Sikorsky, Aerojet Rocketdyne and Northrop Grumman. Interspersed where large-parcel land permits, is the burgeoning distribution and logistics sector for companies seeking proximity to a metro area of over six million stretching from the Palm Beaches through greater Fort Lauderdale to Miami-Dade County. Players epitomize household names, including Amazon, Aldi, FedEx, Tropical Shipping, Walgreens, Woodfield Distribution and Cheney Brothers.

Connections make the county and region desirable to logistics firms, as well as those millions of leisure and business travelers and local commuters. The downtown West Palm Beach and new Boca Raton stations for regional rail provider Brightline simplify travel between the three counties – — and soon, Orlando.

For longer travel, Palm Beach International Airport is part of a three- airport offering (along with Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport and Miami International Airport) offering thousands of flights throughout the region, nation, hemisphere and world.

With growth among its residents, businesses and trade, a high quality of life and that escape from harried lives back north make the county a thriving business and lifestyle destination.


Source: SFBJ

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Joe Mulvehill and his siblings have been working to get their 40-acre wholesale plant nursery west of Delray Beach rezoned for about a decade so it could be sold to a commercial developer.

Now that dream is on its way to fruition.

The Palm Beach County Commission has proposed warehouse development at the site at the northeast corner of State Road 7 and Happy Hollow Road in the county’s Agricultural Reserve. BBX Logistics Properties, based in Fort Lauderdale, plans to build three warehouse buildings and offices totaling 672,533 square feet and 687 parking spaces.

“The entrance and exit to the project known as State Road 7 Business Plaza will be on S.R. 7, instead of Happy Hollow, where the nursery entrance is now,” said Mark Levy, BBX president. “The property was put under contract in August 2021 and the company will close on it after site plan approval. Obtaining final approvals to build is expected to take several months.”

Construction will likely begin in the first quarter of 2024 with a total project cost of more than $100 million, Levy said. The average tenant, such as plumbers, electricians, companies which supply hospitals and schools and others, will rent from 25,000 to 60,000 square feet. Offices will be in the front, with storage areas in the rear.

Nursery Operation In Southern Palm Beach County Dates To 1980s

Mulvehill, 60, owns the property with his siblings Diane, Suzanne and James. He began working for his nurseryman father, the late Joe Mulvehill Sr., at age 17 when he was still a student at Coral Springs High School in Broward County.

The 40-acres of the Mulvehill Nursery (Photo Credit: Andres Leiva, Palm Beach Post)

Mulvehill, who is the nursery operations’ sole owner, has been in business for 42 years and has run the nursery from the current location since 1995. He said he was grateful the county commission understood that the nursery was “left out of the Ag Reserve Master Plan. We are one of the few remaining property owners who bought our property before the Ag Reserve land use restrictions went into effect in the late 1990s.”

“That heavily restricted our property rights. We have worked with the prior commissions for nearly a decade bringing this issue to their attention and finding equitable solutions,” Mulvehill said.

Mulvehill and other small landowners in the 22,000-acre Agricultural Reserve west of Boynton Beach, Delray Beach and Boca Raton, have said for years that the county’s development rules for the area have depressed the value of their land by limiting what a potential purchaser could do with it. The Ag Reserve was formally created in 1980.

Despite hurricane damage and losses, insects, diseases, labor shortages and other issues Mulvehill has faced over the years, he wants to stay in the business. He ships foliage and interior plants throughout the continental U.S. and Canada and sells locally to landscapers.

“My father started with a 5-acre nursery in 1976 and expanded it to 20 acres when I started working there during high school. This parcel was sold to develop what is now called Four Seasons, a residential community off Atlantic Avenue and S.R. 7. In fact, you will see Mulvehill Road off of Atlantic Avenue that still shows up on Google Maps. That was the original road to our first nursery,” Mulvehill said.

Mulvehill said this year has been especially difficult as he lost all his entire crop of mandevillas, a flowering vine, to a pest called pepper thrips.

He said he will continue to operate Mulvehill’s Nursery on 15 acres off Smith Sundy Road, an arrangement that “will be less stressful and give me more time to enjoy life,” Mulvehill said.

Some Concerns Warehouses Won’t Fit With Agricultural Area

At the May 25 hearing before the county commission, nearby residents who support the project and those who oppose it spoke and submitted comment cards. Those opposed expressed concerns about noise, lights and increased traffic that could impact residential developments and horse farms.

The commission took two votes, the first was a 6-1 approval, changing the property’s future land use designation from Agricultural Reserve to Commerce with an underlying Agricultural Reserve.

Vice Mayor Maria Sachs opposed the land use change, as did the county’s staff, which said it will be an isolated industrial use inconsistent with the other development along that portion of S.R. 7.

Sachs said she wants to work with the legacy farmers to find ways for them to get out of the business, and for the highest and best use of their land. However, she said Clint Moore Road and Congress Avenue, about 12 miles to the southeast in Boca Raton, is a more appropriate location for warehouses.

Sachs also said that the Florida Department of Transportation said that the project may generate more traffic than allowed under the Commerce designation.

Next, the commission voted 7-0 to rezone the property from the Agricultural Reserve Zoning District to the Multiple Use Planned Development Zoning District.

Commissioner Marci Woodward said she met with neighbors in the immediate area of quiet roads next to a canal and said they are happy with the entrance being moved to S.R. 7 because there will be less traffic on Happy Hollow and Smith Sundy.

Joseph Starkey owns a 60-acre horse boarding farm, Irish Acres of Florida, near Lyons Road and Atlantic Avenue, also in the Ag Reserve west of Delray Beach. He said that the warehouses do not belong in the Ag Reserve.

“I believe in landowner’s rights and in developer’s rights. I truly believe in the rights of the existing land owners. They are in the Ag Reserve for protection,” Starkey said.

Mike Atchison, owner of Atchison Exotics at 9625 Happy Hollow Road, and president-elect of the Palm Beach County chapter of the Florida Nursery, Growers and Landscape Association, said he supports the rights of the Mulvehills and other farmers to have their property rezoned and to sell their property.

“The industry is tough between bugs, labor and government overreach. I am here before you to express support for the code change. The Mulvehills’ property is not designated as a preserve or a reserve,” Atchison said.

Suzanne Mulvehill, Joe Mulvehill’s sister and a former Lake Worth Beach city commissioner, also spoke before the commission.

“We are the legacy farmers. We have been here before every GL Homes development. We have been here before Lyons Road went through. We were here before the county bought the 1,000-acre dairy at the end of Smith Sundy Road. We were here before the Ag Reserve rules were put into place,” Suzanne Mulvehill said. “We been coming here for 10 years, you have heard farmers get up and share about being here since the 1970s. Our rights were restricted when those rules went into place.”

Commissioner Mack Bernard noted that the Mulvehills had worked with the county on the site’s future for several years.

“Joe and Suzanne, I have been here for 7 years, and you have been coming here in front of us for 10 years,” said Bernard. “I said we would try to be fair to you if you came with the right project. I believe this is a good project for Palm Beach County.”

Entrance To Warehouse Complex Will Be Off State Road 7

The approval includes a requirement for an 8.9-acre preserve and a 4.26-acre water management tract with a 2.86-acre wetland designed to provide enhanced environmental features.

BBX’s Levy said the extraordinary population growth in southwestern Palm Beach County proves the need for more warehouses, and right now no space is available. He said the Mulvehill location is ideal because it is on the U.S. 441-S.R. 7 corridor and close to Florida’s Turnpike. Some companies could not find space in Palm Beach County, and had to locate as far away as Miami and Orlando.

The loading docks will be in the project’s interior, with the buildings serving as a noise buffer, and Levy said he expects most of the trucks coming in will be vans and box trucks, not semi-trucks.

Levy said that he will reach out to homeowners in the nearby Four Seasons residential development after a homeowner stated at the meeting that the group had not heard from the developer. The buildings might be built in phases, and once they are occupied, Levy estimates that 250 to 300 people will be working there.

“So many companies have expressed interest. We can’t build this fast enough,” Levy said. “It will be such a great thing for the community. We worked so hard to integrate it into the community. We feel really good that we did this the right way.”


Source: Palm Beach Post

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The city of Plantation could award incentives to a developer to demolish a hotel and replace it with a mixed-use project.

The board of the city’s Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA) will consider the $2.235 million forgivable loan for Wells Real Estate Investment on June 7. The West Palm Beach-based developer would utilize the funds to purchase and demolish the Plantation Inn at 375 N. State Road 7.

According to the application, Wells Real Estate Investment has the 75-room hotel under contract from Plantation-based Plantation Hospitality Group for $12.2 million. It was built on the 31,744-square-foot site in 1970.

According to the city staff report, the site of the Plantation Inn hosted 32 arrests and 121 incident reports to police so far this year – far more than any other hotel in the city.

The proposed loan agreement states that the $2.235 million loan would be forgiven in full, without interest, after the developer purchases the property and completes demolition of the hotel.

The Plantation Inn site would be combined with two neighboring parcels Wells Real Estate Investment already owns to create a mixed-use project. It owns the 31,935-square-foot medical office building at 4100 S. Hospital Drive and the 5,102-square-foot office building at 4050 N.W. Third Court.

According to the application, the $70 million project would consist of 118 residential units inclusive of 15% workforce housing, 36,000 square feet of medical office space, a 124-room Marriott-branded hotel and 350 covered parking spaces.

Janalie Bingham Joseph at Wells Real Estate Investment couldn’t be reached for comment.

The city also has interest in redeveloping the property because it wants to spur more economic activity next to the former Plantation General Hospital, which HCA Healthcare (NYSE: HCA) closed and relocated to Davie. HCA still operates an emergency room in the former hospital building, but it doesn’t use most of the campus. According to the city staff report, HCA is considering plans to build a new free-standing emergency department facility of about 11,000 square feet closer to State Road 7.


Source: SFBJ

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The owners of the Boca Raton Innovation Campus, the largest office complex in South Florida, are working on plans for a mixed-use project, but the goal is to enhance the office space, not replace it.

Located on 123 acres at 5000 T-Rex Ave., BRIC spans 1.7 million square feet of offices that previously housed IBM.

Boca Raton-based CP Group acquired BRIC in 2018 with several partners, and in 2021 CP Group brought in several new partners. The ownership group also includes Rialto, DRA Advisors and Las Olas Capital Advisors.

Angelo Bianco, managing partner of CP Group, said he has a pending application with Boca Raton to rezone the property to allow a mixed-use development to rise in the parking lots surrounding the offices. Plans call for 1,250 residential units, 125,000 square feet of retail, restaurants, grocery and entertainment, a 150- to 175-room hotel, and several parking garages. That would include a 4,000-seat performing arts center.


Source: SFBJ