In one fell swoop, the Edwards Cos. has bought out its partner in the $200 million Atlantic Crossing project in Delray Beach through a land deal valued at $38.5 million.
The sale covers nearly 9 acres of land — or two full city blocks — between Atlantic Avenue and Northeast First Street.
CDS International Holdings, a Boca Raton private equity firm and Edwards’ former partner, began assembling parcels in Delray’s downtown area as far back as 1999, when it purchased the Atlantic Plaza office building for $8.3 million.
The company hoped to transform what was seen as a blighted portion of the city with new condos, rental apartments, office space as well as restaurants and shops. CDS later brought on Edwards, an Ohio-based developer, to help make that vision a reality.
But the two partners’ plans were bogged down by a contentious relationship with city officials, which delayed the development and eventually spurred a lawsuit from Edwards and CDS alleging Delray commissioners were obstructing the project — despite it gaining formal approvals in 2014.
It seems the fight might have been too much for CDS, which is headed by famed vitamin entrepreneur Carl DeSantis.
“While we have been active investors in real estate and big believers in Delray Beach, we are not, and have never been developers; certainly not of large projects that take many years to complete,” DeSantis said in a letter addressing his company’s sale of the project site. “It’s simply not our forte.”
Edwards must now resolve its lawsuit against the city before moving forward with the approved plans. The project is slated to have 82 luxury condos, 261 apartments, 83,000 square feet of Class A office space and 76,000 square feet of shops and restaurants, all within six commercial buildings sized between three or four stories.
“We are making this additional investment because this is a unique site,” Jeff Edwards, president of Edwards Cos., said in a statement. “Redeveloping two city blocks is a rare opportunity to create a distinctly Delray environment that will benefit the entire community.”