Investors sank billions of dollars into Palm Beach County real estate last year, marking one of the county’s most active years since the U.S. economy tanked several years ago.
The Real Deal compiled a list of 2015’s biggest commercial investment players in Palm Beach County using data from the CoStar Group, an analytics company. Check out the top five below.
#1 Clarion Partners — $654 million
Clarion Partners, a global investment company based in New York, was last year’s biggest spender when it came to Palm Beach County commercial properties.
The firm spent $654 million on only eight properties spread throughout the county. Its biggest deal was the $278 million purchase of the newly rejuvenated Palm Beach Outlets shopping center, which it bought with partner New England Development. And its second biggest deal followed a few months later: the partnership paid another $117 million for the Marketplace at the Palm Beach Outlets — another retail center next door to the Outlets.
As for the other six properties, Clarion picked them up as part of its $3.2 billion acquisition of the Gables Residential private investment trust.
Clarion had already owned a piece of the trust, but the firm took it a step further last year when it bought out its institutional partners.
The trust’s Palm Beach County portfolio included six multifamily buildings located in Boca Raton, Boynton Beach and Palm Beach Gardens.
#2 Blackstone Group — $247 million
New York’s Blackstone Group made it to the list’s No. 2 spot by investing nearly $250 million in Palm Beach County properties.
The financial titan acquired four properties in the county last year. Its biggest purchase was Downtown at the Gardens shopping center in Palm Beach Gardens, which traded for $157.8 million.
That property was part of Blackstone’s absorption of the Excel Trust in a deal valued at roughly $2 billion. The deal included 38 shopping-oriented properties throughout the U.S.
And in another retail deal, Blackstone and partner DDR Corp. paid $26.4 million to Prologis for the Concourse Village shopping strip in Jupiter.
The investment company’s last two deals were for hotels in West Palm Beach that were owned by OTO Development. Their sales prices were not disclosed, but CoStar estimates their combined cost as roughly $62.8 million.
#3 AEW Capital — $245 million
Investment manager AEW Capital took the No. 3 spot with a single $245 million purchase last year.
The company’s deal included a pair of West Palm Beach office towers owned by Prudential Real Estate Investors, the property investment arm of insurance giant Prudential Financial.
Prudential had picked up the Phillips Point towers for an undisclosed amount in 2007. The property’s last recorded price was $138 million — or about $336 per square foot — in 2003.
The latest $245 million price breaks down to nearly $597 a foot.
#4 Carroll Organization — $112 million
The Carroll Organization is an Atlanta investment firm that specializes in buying and managing apartment complexes. It came in at the No. 4 spot with its purchase of West Palm Beach’s Arium apartment complexes for $112 million last year.
Carroll, along with partner BlueMountain Capital Management, purchased the 812-unit complex from investment manager UBS Realty Investors. The project is split into two communities: Arium Laguna Lakes, built in 2003; and Arium Palm Coves, built in 2006.
Carroll’s purchase price equates to $137,931 per unit. The company said it plans to re-brand its new communities and upgrade the units.
#5 Publix Supermarkets — $87.8
One of the Southeast’s biggest supermarket chains had a busy year in terms of real estate. Publix launched a $1.3 billion campaign to purchase shopping centers anchored by its stores, launch new locations and upgrade its technology.
In Palm Beach County, that meant purchasing three shopping centers for a combined $87.8 million. The largest of the three was Federal Realty’s Courtyard Shops in Wellington, which sold for $52.8 million. The investment trust scored a $14.9 premium over what it had paid for the shopping strip in 2008.
The other two deals include Jupiter’s Sea Plum Town Center, which Paul Taggart sold for $18.7 million; and the Shoppers at Ibis complex in West Palm Beach, which fetched $16.3 million.