Jeff Greene forges ahead on West Palm project, won’t sell land

Miami /
Jan.January 25, 2016 09:45 AM

The city of West Palm Beach recently approved billionaire developer Jeff Greene’s $250 million mixed-use project for 550 North Quadrille Boulevard, and Greene, who has amassed multiple land holdings in the city, told The Real Deal it’s “absolutely” his No. 1 priority.

The project, which takes up an entire block, includes two 30-story towers that look like stacked blocks, designed by Arquitectonica of Miami. The ground level will feature shops, restaurants and corner parks. One tower includes 340,000 square feet of Class A office space. The other will feature a five-star hotel with 209 guest suites and 84 luxury condos or rentals above that.

The project also features a day-care center and a 34,000-square-foot fitness center that includes indoor tennis courts — to complement the plan’s outdoor tennis courts. The residential building also will include a top-notch restaurant and bar on the top floor.

“There’s nothing like it in West Palm Beach, maybe even all of Palm Beach County,” Greene says. The buildings will be the tallest in the city. The development provides one-stop living for upscale professionals.

“There’s everything you can imagine that you’d need, right across the bridge from Palm Beach,” Greene said. The bridge entrance lies on Quadrille, one-and-a-half blocks east of the project.

There is “tremendous demand” for Class A office space in West Palm Beach, given that the last Class A building to open was CityPlace Tower at 520 Okeechobee Boulevard in 2008 — and that was the first one built since 1989, Greene said. As for the condos/rentals, “the rental market is strong in West Palm Beach, and I think it will keep getting stronger,” he said. And as for the hotel, Greene said there are none in the area “with this kind of amenities.”

He said the project will be financed with a construction loan and that he will put up some equity. Greene won’t be adding other investors, he told TRD. Lenders already are knocking on his door to provide a loan, Greene said. “It just depends on who gives us the best terms.”

Local real estate professionals agree with Greene that the city has room for another Class A office building and for more housing, though more so workforce housing than luxury housing. But some say Greene may have chosen the wrong site, as it’s north of downtown proper and borders a gritty neighborhood.

Architect Rick Gonzalez, president of REG Architects, said in September that he wasn’t convinced the plan is in the right spot. “I’m concerned about 30-story buildings in a two to four-story neighborhood,” he had 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.”

Greene scoffs at the critics. “There’s no question this isn’t in the middle of downtown, but….It’s not such a bad location,” he said. “For anyone in Palm Beach [the town], it’s easier to get to our building,” thanks to the nearby bridge than to points south. Coming from the west, it’s also easier to reach his project, Greene said.

Some cynics doubt he even intends to build the project, arguing that he’s likely to sell the land instead. The developer’s response: “That’s ridiculous. I have no interest in selling it. I have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on the planning process. I don’t even know who I’d sell it to. I’m the only one that can get office space. I’m so excited to do this.”

Greene hopes to break ground on the project within three to six months and finish building it two years later.

 

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