The commercial real estate market is booming along the South Dixie Highway corridor of West Palm Beach, as businesses ranging from antique stores to restaurants are spreading quickly.
“The area [which begins just south of downtown West Palm and ends at Lake Worth] is on fire,” West Palm architect Rick Gonzalez, president of REG Architects, told The Real Deal.
With its heavy concentration of artsy businesses and eclectic eateries, its many well-educated residents and its connection to downtown West Palm Beach, the South Dixie corridor is just like Greenwich Village in New York City, he said.
The market’s strength stems largely from downtown West Palm real estate prices “going through the roof,” as Gonzalez put it.
South Dixie commercial space rents for about $25 per square foot on average, compared to about $50 for downtown West Palm, William R. Cummings, a commercial real estate broker at Century 21, told TRD. Downtown rents have soared about 40 percent over the last two years, compared to about 35 percent for South Dixie.
Among recent developments, JC White Architectural Interior Products bought 2403 South Dixie Highway, once the site of Hoffman’s Chocolates, and negotiations are underway for the sale of the historic Carefree Theater at 2000 South Dixie, which was closed by the hurricanes of 2004 to 2005.
“If entrepreneurs and small businesses get displaced from downtown, South Dixie is the perfect place to go,” Gonzalez said.
Planning has begun among public and private sector officials to beautify the area.
“I see that whole South Dixie corridor as a destination for eating, shopping — it has the potential for everything but big office buildings,” said Robert Kemp, an independent West Palm realtor who lives in the area.
The world class Norton Museum of Art, which sits at the northern end of the corridor and is planning a $60 million renovation, “will be the glue between downtown and South Dixie,” Gonzalez said. “It will bring art galleries and artists — culture.”
Flagler Drive, at the eastern end of the corridor, offering unobstructed views of the Intracoastal Waterway also makes the area attractive. The waterfront is not blocked by tall buildings like those on Biscayne Boulevard and Brickell Avenue in Miami, Gonzalez noted. “We all have access to the waterfront. That will make South Dixie more valuable.”
And the corridor’s proximity to the new All Aboard Florida train line that is slated to run from Miami to Orlando makes it even more appealing, Gonzalez said.