Tag Archive for: workforce housing

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Downtown West Palm Beach’s growth has caught the eye of developers and real estate investors, but one district has been left out of the activity.

Now, this is poised to change. The city, working with NDT Development and Place Projects, wants to implement a set of building regulations aimed at breathing life into the area anointed the Nora District.

A rendering of the Nora District Redevelopment (IMAGE CREDIT: ArquitectonicaGEO)

Stretching between Quadrille and Palm Beach Lakes boulevards and from Dixie Highway to the FEC Railroad tracks, the area is poised to be redeveloped in a manner reminiscent of Miami’s Wynwood Arts District.

Commissioners just took the first step by voting unanimously on to change the comprehensive plan, a blueprint for growth and development, for the Nora District. Next, the state plans to review the tweaks, and if it approves them, the commission is expected to take a final vote on Feb. 7, 2022. In the meantime, the city also is working on zoning and land development rules for the Nora District.

“NDT and Place Projects, which together own 13 acres in Nora, approached the city in 2019 to discuss how to breathe new life into the district,” said Joe Furst, founder and managing principal of Place Projects. “The city had tried before to encourage other development in the area that had not come to fruition,” referring to regulations implemented over a decade ago.

Despite that effort, 39 percent of properties remain vacant, even as roughly 211 residential units and 50,000 square feet of commercial space have been built annually over the past 15 years in the rest of downtown, according to the city.

A rendering of the Nora District Redevelopment (IMAGE CREDIT: ArquitectonicaGEO)

The vision for Nora is to create a multi-section neighborhood, where towers would rise in some places, and existing buildings would be preserved or renovated in others. The northern section, with mostly vacant lots, is expected to see buildings of up to 20-stories at the corner of Palm Beach Lakes Boulevard and the train tracks, scaling down to 15 stories on lots to the east along the boulevard, according to the city. The height that is currently allowed is two stories along Palm Beach Lakes Boulevard and five stories along Dixie Highway.

“NDT and Place Projects, which own most of the vacant lots in the northern Nora area, envision a multifamily project and potentially offices,” Furst said. “The maximum proposed heights would be allowed through the transfer of development rights, including from historic buildings elsewhere in downtown. Transferring development rights means developers also would have to include affordable and workforce housing.”

But the big projects won’t be the first step by NDT and Place Projects. Instead, they would start with infrastructure improvements and repurposing the mostly vacant buildings they own along Railroad Avenue, the future main street in Nora.

Aerial of the Nora District Redevelopment (IMAGE CREDIT: ArquitectonicaGEO)

The mid-section of Nora, roughly between Eighth and 10th streets and home to single-family houses and duplexes, will be preserved. The southern section along Quadrille Boulevard could see buildings up to 10 stories, double the currently allowed height, according to the city.

NDT and Place Projects have put roughly $40 million into property acquisitions and other costs associated with drawing the Nora vision, according to Furst.

“Ultimately, the Nora District could bring in other developers as well,” Furst said.

Based in West Palm Beach, NDT’s other recent ventures include buying a West Palm Beach office tower in July with three other partners for $60.7 million. The firm is led by Ned and Sam Grace, as well as Damien Barr.

Miami-based Place Projects has ventures in Brickell, Wynwood and St. Petersburg, according to its website. It was a development partner in the 545 Wyn office building in Wynwood.

In another part of downtown West Palm Beach, Stephen Ross’ Related Companies has amassed the majority of the office towers in a bet on financial firm influx to the area. Its latest downtown project is the One Flagler office building, dubbed in real estate circles the “hedge fund tower.”

 

Source: The Real Deal

 

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When the Treasury Department released its most recent guidance on opportunity zones in April, investors were relieved: The rules left a lot of leeway for taking advantage of the program’s tax breaks.

In Fort Lauderdale, that’s been translating into deals this spring.

The rest of the year should be busy as well, because program rules require people who harvested gains from hedge funds and partnerships in 2018 to reinvest them in opportunity zones by the end of June. And to reap the maximum benefit from the program — a 15% reduction on taxes — money has to be invested in opportunity zone funds by the end of 2019.

“The new proposed rules have been a catalyst for deals in emerging neighborhoods all year,” said Native Realty CEO Jaime Sturgis. “Native Realty is working on developments and property assemblages in zones in Flagler Village and the 13th Street and Sistrunk corridors. The latest IRS guidance made some significant clarifications and helped the local market become more comfortable, and even more bullish, about the program.”

Sturgis will be a featured speaker at Bisnow‘s upcoming Opportunity Zones event in Fort Lauderdale June 20. Other speakers include BH3 co-founder Daniel Lebensohn, Merrimac Ventures Senior Vice President Dale Reed, Affiliated Development President Nick Rojo and Jorge Gomez-Moller, general counsel for Driftwood Acquisition & Development.

Miami-based Driftwood, a private firm specializing in hotel assets, this month launched its initial qualified opportunity zone fund, Driftwood QOF, with a target raise of $50M. The firm is already invested in two opportunity zone projects: a joint venture to develop a 218-room, dual-branded hotel called Home 2/Tru by Hilton in Fort Lauderdale, and the redevelopment of a 10-story office building into a hotel in Wilmington, Delaware.

“People are out there looking for deals,” Rojo said. But he is wary that “land sellers are unrealistic as to the actual benefit of the program.”

Rojo said Affiliated Development had a deal in the works for years to build a workforce housing apartment building in the Sistrunk neighborhood; it just so happened that it fell into an opportunity zone when the program was announced.

Affiliated closed in April without waiting for the latest round of regulations. Its 220K SF building is beginning construction and should open in late 2020.  Rojo said his deal was complicated because it involved Community Redevelopment Authority grant money, but that some of the things he learned as they hit speed bumps in the development process was that “most investors from sophisticated family offices aren’t going to invest money in a blind pool.” He said his investors each set up their own LLCs, which functioned as individual funds, and then collectively invested in the opportunity zone business.

In FATVillage, a few well-known Fort Lauderdale names announced this month that they consolidated 5.2 acres in downtown to capitalize on a parcel that is in an opportunity zone. Alan Hooper and Tim Petrillo, who are co-founders of Urban Street Development (behind FATVillage projects Avenue Lofts, Foundry and Mill Lofts) and partners in The Restaurant People (Yolo, Boatyard and more), announced they forged a strategic partnership with Doug McCraw and Lutz Hofbauer, who are credited with creating the FATVillage brand and its art walk.

Without disclosing many specifics, Hooper said in a statement that they have retained consultants and architects, and will “combine food with art and technology (FAT) and develop a neighborhood where people and businesses of all sizes can find a place to create and collaborate, to live and socialize.”

The Bisnow Opportunity Zones event will be held at Sistrunk Marketplace & Brewery, a long-awaited, 40K SF food hall/brewery/meeting space with a DJ academy, cooking classes, and art and music events.

 

Source: Bisnow

One lesson learned from the Greater Fort Lauderdale Alliance‘s past two annual trips: a city’s brand matters.

About 80 members of the Fort Lauderdale business community returned from a four-day trip to Nashville, Tennessee on Wednesday. The trip was led by Broward County‘s economic development partnership, the Greater Fort Lauderdale Alliance. The group met with city officials and leaders in the Nashville business community to discuss common challenges and best practices impacting the two areas.

The trip follows a similar trip to Austin, Texas last year to gain a better understanding of how other cities are attracting companies and fostering economic growth.

In an interview with the Business Journal, Bob Swindell said that one key insight he learned was how Nashville’s Music City brand has helped the city attract talent and create a camaraderie among residents.

“Their brand music is a brand that everyone can relate to,” said Swindell. “They own their brand.”

The Greater Fort Lauderdale Alliance had a similar takeaway on the importance of branding when the group visited Austin last year, which has worked to create a reputation as a technology hub.

“We learned to recognize Greater Fort Lauderdale’s and South Florida’s many strengths, and that perhaps we need to take a page from the Texas playbook and brag a bit more,” Swindell said. “Another lesson learned from the Nashville trip was just how much the two cities have in common.”

In addition to both being named finalists for Amazon’s second headquarters, the two cities face similar major challenges pertaining to workforce housing, homelessness and transportation.

Swindell said transportation, in particular, has been a big focus of Nashville Mayor Megan Berry, who has been communicating the need for action with the city’s business community.

“She says that today will be your best transportation day,” said Swindell, meaning that the problem is getting worse everyday and the need for action is imperative.

Other highlights of the trip included discussions on:

  • How to better align educational programs with target industries with Nashville’s Labor Educational Alignment Committee
  • Innovations in health care at Nashville’s DNA bank
  • Research collaborations and how to take that tech to market with the Vanderbilt Innovation Center
  • How to attract and develop more high-tech companies with the Nashville Technology Council

The trip was funded through several sponsors including JetBlue, the Florida Panthers, the City of Fort Lauderdale’s Executive Airport and Signature Grand.

The Greater Fort Lauderdale Alliance recently released its 2017 fiscal year results, which showed that the organization assisted more than 300 companies and surpassed its original goals for job creation and retention. For the 2017 fiscal year, the economic development partnership brought in 1,978 new jobs, exceeding initial expectations by 24 percent.

 

Source: SFBJ

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