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How hot is the residential real estate market in parts of western Palm Beach County?

Hot enough that builders are seeking zoning changes to permit them to abandon already approved commercial projects and convert them into high-density residential developments with limited commercial parts.

 “The shift shows that builders can get a greater return on their investment by going residential,” said Jesse Saginor, a Florida Atlantic University professor who monitors real estate trends in South Florida. “There is not much of a wait to find buyers, regardless of the price point, for new homes in Palm Beach County.”

The latest example involves the vacant northwest corner of Hypoluxo and Lyons roads in suburban Lake Worth. It may soon be the site of Windsor Place, a 393-unit development that calls for 157 townhomes, 236 rental units and 30,192 square feet of commercial space, including a grocery store and a drive-through restaurant.

In 2005, previous owners obtained approval for 115,078 square feet of commercial space that included a 41,000-square-foot anchor store along with 184 townhouses. The new proposal seeks to more than double the number of residential units and represents a significant decrease in the amount of commercial space. The parcel is one of the last remaining, sizeable, undeveloped tracts west of Lake Worth Beach.

The development company behind the project is Hatzlacha WP Holdings, founded by Charles M. Scardina, once a senior vice president of Ansca Homes. Scardina was involved in a lengthy legal battle with his former partners, which settled in late 2017. Shortly after that, he bought the 40-acre parcel for $15.2 million.

But Scardina now says in a report filed with the county that the initial plan will result in “an improper use of the site” as there is too much other commercial development in the area. The report noted the changes were necessary because the original project “too closely mirrored” the adjacent Town Commons shopping center on the east side of Lyons Road.

Earlier this year, another company owned by Scardina made similar arguments for his Terra Nova project at Hagen Ranch Road and Atlantic Avenue west of Delray Beach.

Scardina’s Principal Development Group proposed a change from a mostly commercial project to one with 275 rental units and a drive-through restaurant. A group of area homeowner associations banded together to create the Common Sense Development Coalition to fight the plan on the grounds that the residential density is too intense. Scardina is working with coalition members to see if he can address their concerns.

And recently, another commercially approved project at Jog Road and Boynton Beach Boulevard is undergoing a change as the new owners seek permission to build an assisted living facility, which will reduce land devoted to commercial uses by 4 acres.

 “There is little land left in Palm Beach County to build homes,” said residential builder Alex Akel. “It is possible that residential builders may even buy up existing shopping centers and convert them into project that would include housing.”

Much has been written about how the tax law changes have fueled a luxury-home boom in South Florida but Saginor said the impact has been felt across all price points. Saginor of FAU said there is just as much a demand for homes between $300,000 and $800,000 as there are for luxury homes.

Additionally, with the rise of online shopping, brick and mortar stores are in decline. Strip center stalwarts Toys R Us and Sports Authority are gone. Booksellers, video stores and record shops are nearly extinct. Macy’s, Sears, JCPenney and Office Depot are shrinking.

Meanwhile, it is not clear whether Scardina will face the kind of fierce opposition for Windsor Place that he faces at Terra Nova west of Delray Beach. Plans call for Windsor Place to abut the 1,100-plus unit development at Bellagaio, which is northwest of the proposed development. The project calls for apartments in seven three-story buildings with each building containing 32 or 34 units.

A 4-acre lake separates the two developments. Access will be from both Lyons and Hypoluxo roads. The grocery store will be at the intersection. According to the builder’s traffic study, the development will generate an additional 3,738 trips a day on the already heavily congested Hypoluxo-Lyons road intersection.

 “Bellagio and other area HOAs are in active discussions with the developer,” said Pam Rothman, president of the Bellagio Homeowners Association. She declined further comment.

Repeated efforts to obtain comment from Scardina and his consultants were unsuccessful. Scardina asked the county Planning Division on June 18 for more time to submit detailed plans as he seeks the support of Bellagio and other nearby developments — Valencia Shores, Savannah Estates and Villagio.

The zoning changes would result in:

  • A significant increase in housing density.
  • New zoning classifications for both residential and commercial parts of the development.
  • Elimination of 59 guest parking spaces for the rental units.

If approved, the builder expects Windsor Place to be completed in 2023.

 

Source: Palm Beach Post

Entrepreneurs looking to start a small business in a small city have some of the best options for locations right here in South Florida.

Weston ranks No. 2 in that category nationally, according to a new report by Verizon Business, while Delray Beach came in No. 5.

Lauderhill was No. 13 on the list, with Homestead at No. 38.

Factors considered in Verizon’s study include population, education, travel time to work, income per capita, loans per capita, broadband access and tax scores. (The report notes that to be considered a “small city” according to the U.S. census, the population must fall between 50,000 to 75,000 people.)

Only Portland, Maine, was a more attractive small city for starting a small business than Weston.

“Being No. 8 among the top 100 safest cities in the country is reassuring for a fledgling business,” Verizon’s report says of Weston. “This is also the most educated city in the top 10, with nearly 60% of the population holding at least a bachelor’s degree. So Weston has got a lot going for it, and people are taking notice. The only downside to setting up shop here is the commute to work, which runs at about half an hour, but hey — you’re not far from the beach and the Everglades are basically in the city’s backyard, so let’s call it even.”

The South Florida lifestyle also played a role in Delray Beach ranking so high.

“There’s more of a draw to this city than its spread of sunny beaches along the southeastern coast of the state,” the Verizon’s report says. “Not quite as high on the education scale as Weston but higher than Kissimmee, Delray Beach is a happy Floridian medium with the shortest average commute time between the three cities. It enjoys a thriving industry of restaurants, nightclubs, retail shops, and art galleries, which is important to keep in mind when considering where to put your business’s roots down. And hey, the beach might not be the most important thing, but a beach day every now and then definitely couldn’t hurt.”

Florida wound up with eight cities in the top 50, the others being Kissimmee (No. 7), Daytona Beach (11), North Port (39) and Sarasota (44).

The Top 50

  1. Portland, Maine
  2. Weston, Florida
  3. Missoula, Montana
  4. Southfield, Michigan
  5. Delray Beach, Florida
  6. South Jordan, Utah
  7. Kissimmee, Florida
  8. Rochester Hills, Michigan
  9. Rapid City, South Dakota
  10. Bismarck, North Dakota
  11. Daytona Beach, Florida
  12. Broomfield, Colorado
  13. Lauderhill, Florida
  14. Evanston, Illinois
  15. Alpharetta, Georgia
  16. Redondo Beach, California
  17. Wilmington, Delaware
  18. Eau Claire, Wisconsin
  19. Rockville, Maryland
  20. Logan, Utah
  21. Greenville, South Carolina
  22. Flagstaff, Arizona
  23. Walnut Creek, California
  24. Mansfield, Texas
  25. Maple Grove, Minnesota
  26. St. Charles, Missouri
  27. St. Cloud, Minnesota
  28. Georgetown, Texas
  29. Eagan, Minnesota
  30. Appleton, Wisconsin
  31. Schaumburg, Illinois
  32. Palo Alto, California
  33. Laguna Niguel, California
  34. Lehi, Utah
  35. Pawtucket, Rhode Island
  36. Novi, Michigan
  37. Cheyenne, Wyoming
  38. Homestead, Florida
  39. North Port, Florida
  40. Corvallis, Oregon
  41. Waukesha, Wisconsin
  42. Missouri City, Texas
  43. Waltham, Massachusetts
  44. Sarasota, Florida
  45. Lafayette, Indiana
  46. Medford, Massachusetts
  47. Redlands, California
  48. Gaithersburg, Maryland
  49. Canton, Ohio
  50. Taylorsville, Utah

 

Source: SunSentinel