Jeff Greene’s downtown WPB tower faces criticism

Plans include 410,000 sf of Class A office space and a hotel with 84 residences

Sep.September 24, 2015 12:00 PM

Billionaire real estate investor Jeff Greene has submitted plans for twin, 30-story mixed-use towers in downtown West Palm Beach, but local industry insiders are offering doubts about the plan.

Plans for the 829,000-square-foot project, at 550 North Quadrille Boulevard, include 410,000 square feet of Class A office space and a separate 200-room, 96,000-square-foot hotel with 84 residences. If approved, the development would also feature a restaurant, health club and indoor and outdoor tennis courts.

With the occupancy rate for Class A office space standing at about 90 percent in downtown West Palm Beach, there is room for more space, but not 410,000 square feet in one building in that location, said real estate broker Rebel Cook. “That would mean a lot of new corporations coming here now. Where would all the people live, given the lack of affordable housing?” Cook of Rebel Cook Real Estate told The Real Deal.

Jonathan Satter, managing director of commercial real estate firm Avison Young, notes that West Palm Beach has had difficulty attracting large companies over the years, partially because of the lack of Class A office space. “It’s a little bit of a chicken and egg thing,” he told TRD.

Cook believes something will ultimately be built at 550 North Quadrille. “But I don’t know if Jeff Greene will be the developer,” she said. “I perceive of Jeff Greene more as an investor. I think a major developer would be more interested in buying it. My hunch is Jeff bought the land so cheap [for $15 million last year] that he may go ahead and see if anyone is willing to pay for the dirt and the city’s approval of a plan.”

Architect Rick Gonzalez, president of REG Architects, isn’t convinced the plan is in the right spot. “I’m concerned about 30-story buildings in a two to four-story neighborhood,” he told TRD. “It’s isolated from the density of buildings downtown. It might be more auto-oriented than if it was built closer to rail stations.”

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