There is widespread agreement in West Palm Beach that the city needs more Class A office space, and Related Cos. is stepping up to the plate.
The company, which owns the popular mixed-use development CityPlace in downtown West Palm, is in negotiations to buy a building and parking lot owned by the First Church of Christ, Scientist, as first reported by the Palm Beach Post. The property is located at 142 Lakeview Avenue, across the street from the Intracoastal Waterway and the Royal Park Bridge to Palm Beach.
The church isn’t part of the deal — Related seeks to add a 30-story office story with 300,000 square feet on the land just west of the church. The building would be designed by New York City architect David Childs, whose credits include One World Trade Center (the Freedom Tower) in New York.
Not surprisingly, Related is enthusiastic about the project. “I have had the pleasure of working with the West Palm congregation of the church for many years in exploring ways to sensitively develop this site,” Ken Himmel, CEO of Related Urban, said in a statement provided to The Real Deal. “The office market in Palm Beach and West Palm Beach looks promising now for attracting premier financial service firms to this one-of-a-kind flagship office building site.”
City officials say they hope chieftains of financial service firms with homes in Palm Beach will locate offices in West Palm. Hedge fund legend Paul Tudor Jones of Tudor Investment Corp. opened an office for his firm in Palm Beach last year after buying a mansion there for $71.2 million.
The architect Childs lauded the opportunity “to work on a project of a scale and in a location that helps to define an entire city,” he said in a statement provided to TRD. “The Christian Science site in West Palm Beach is such a prospect. The new building will take advantage of the promontory location at Royal Park Bridge [to Palm Beach] by marking in the sky the entrance axis to the city.”
Childs even likened the project’s design, which includes a lighthouse, “to the experience of France’s magnificent Chartres Cathedral’s spire.”
So far, most local real estate insiders share Childs’ warm feelings for the project. But Rebel Cook, president of Rebel Cook Real Estate, questions whether there is room for this building and Jeff Greene’s One West Palm development with 340,000 square feet of Class A office space about one mile away. “Is the demand there for Related plus Jeff Greene? Not in the next few years,” she told TRD. “It’s a long-term scenario.”