Chicago-based developer Golub, which once owned the city’s fourth tallest building (John Hancock Center), has jumped into West Palm Beach as lead developer of the Bristol.
The project is West Palm’s most expensive condo development, at 1100 South Flagler Drive, with units starting at $4 million. Golub hopes to break ground on the 25-story, 69-unit building this spring and to finish construction about 24 months later.
The entitlement process took a few years thanks to the opposition of some West Palm residents, but Golub CEO Michael Newman told The Real Deal the company is pleased with the result. “There’s not a lot of comparable product in the market. We think it will serve a real niche,” he said.
Golub has been around since 1960 and in addition to developing acts as an investor and manager. Its main focus is residential (condos and rentals), office and mixed-use projects. About 65-75 percent of its activity is in the Chicago area. The firm is “opportunistic and entrepreneurial,” Newman said. “We choose projects where we can add value.”
Those projects typically arise from Golub’s extensive network of relationships in the industry rather than from top-down research. “We’ll hear about something and inquire, or we’ll get called,” Newman said. Those relationships lead the firm to many different places. “We’re open to doing things anywhere,” he said. Golub is currently in the construction phase of a 400-unit apartment building in San Francisco. An architectural firm that the company works with in Chicago brought Golub to the project.
In 1989, the firm began development activity in Poland, becoming one of the first U.S. real estate firms to work there, with a small office building. That came about through Golub’s connection with a Chicago architecture and engineering firm that had operations in Poland. Golub’s work has since spread elsewhere in Central and Eastern Europe, including Russia. “Wherever we go, it’s important for us to be a long-term presence,” Newman said.
As for West Palm Beach, Golub’s foray into the Bristol stemmed from another relationship. One of Newman’s friends hooked him up with Elion Partners, a real estate investment firm based in Aventura, relating to a possible deal in Chicago. While nothing happened on that deal, Newman hit it off with Elion executives, who told him about the site where the Bristol will be located. “It really got my attention, because it’s a rare opportunity to develop a unique parcel of Palm Beach waterfront property,'” Newman said.
Golub founder and Chairman Eugene Golub lives part-time in Palm Beach County and has a developer friend Al Adelson who also was interested in the idea and has played a significant role since then. So the three developers joined forces to execute the project. About 25 percent of the units have been put under contract for about $175 million. Newman hopes the rest can be sold by the time the building is finished or shortly thereafter.
And would Golub have interest in more projects in Palm Beach County? “Certainly,” Newman said. “There’s nothing imminent, but we have looked at other opportunities and will continue to do so.”