Developers: Starchitects’ invasion of WPB should boost real estate market

From left, Bernardo Fort-Brescia, Helmut Jahn, Norman Foster and West Palm Beach (Credit: Anydxox)
From left, Bernardo Fort-Brescia, Helmut Jahn, Norman Foster and West Palm Beach (Credit: Anydxox)

Several star architects, commonly known as starchitects, are designing new projects around downtown West Palm Beach, and local developers say their involvement will help lift real estate values throughout the area.

Jeff Greene

Jeff Greene

“For the whole community, it’s a fantastic thing,” says billionaire real estate investor Jeff Greene, who has hired a top architect of his own, Bernardo Fort-Brescia of Miami-based Arquitectonica, to design the cube-shaped 30-story twin tower mixed-use project, One West Palm, that Greene plans at 550 Quadrille Boulevard.

“The great architecture marks the beginning of a new era for West Palm Beach,” Greene told The Real Deal. “It gives value to the properties they design and those around them. It makes the whole downtown more appealing.”

The starchitects include:

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  • David Childs, chairman emeritus of the famed Skidmore, Owings & Merrill and author of the Freedom Tower in New York City, designed Related Cos.’ proposed 30-story office tower on Flagler Drive next to Okeechobee Boulevard. Childs didn’t hold back in a description of the project, likening its design, which includes a lighthouse, “to the experience of France’s magnificent Chartres Cathedral’s spire.”
  • Norman Foster, a winner of the prestigious Pritzker Architecture Award, is responsible for the $100 million expansion of the Norton Museum. The plan includes 12,000 square feet of gallery space, a 210-seat auditorium and a 9,000-square-foot sculpture garden.
  • Allan Greenberg, one of the world’s leading classical architects, designed the new project slated for the Carefree Theatre location on South Dixie Highway. It’s a two building plan, with one a seven-story structure housing six movie auditoriums with 750 seats for classic, independent and foreign films; restaurant space on the ground floor; and 58 apartments above the theaters.
  • Helmut Jahn, the brains behind major buildings in Chicago, Berlin, Philadelphia and Bangkok, designed the five-building condo complex that is slated to replace the crumbling Prospect Place office center on South Dixie Highway. The 15-story buildings include curved edges, softened angles and cantilevered balconies.

“That’s what these projects demand — high quality architecture and new space,” West Palm developer Jonathan Gladstone told TRD. The Norton’s renovation almost convinced Gladstone to buy a house just doors away, but its condition was too decrepit, he said.

Instead he is closing on a house near the Carefree renovation and working on purchasing a commercial building in the same area. “The whole desire is to be up against the Carefree, and Allan Greenberg is a factor,” Gladstone said. “That project is beautiful.”

Meanwhile, West Palm developer Neil Kozokoff has launched a 14-townhouse project in Grandview Heights, not far from the Norton. “Norman Foster is as good as they get,” he told TRD. “To park a project in a neighborhood of his is a great coup.”

To be sure, none of the new buildings have been built yet, and not all have even been approved. “But as a developer I’d like to see everything built. The name brand recognition can only help the city,” Kozokoff said.