You can call her the Ivanka Trump of Lake Worth. Ariana Peters, 22, took over from her father Douglas Peters as CEO of Peters Development two years ago and has expanded the company’s portfolio of commercial buildings in Lake Worth to 32.
In just the last year, Peters has purchased 10 properties in the city, totaling several million dollars. The company also owns three buildings in Boynton Beach, one in Jupiter, four in Clearwater and one in Fort Myers.
Ariana is actually the senior family executive in Peters Development. She works with her sisters who are 17 and 20. The entire family is bullish on Lake Worth. “My father always believed in the town,” Ariana Peters told The Real Deal. “It has so much potential. It’s an amazing downtown.”
Douglas Peters invested in Delray Beach before it took off more than 15 years ago. And while downtown Delray has one main thoroughfare, Atlantic Avenue, Lake Worth has two: Lucerne and Lake Avenues, Peters pointed out.
“Lake Worth has a quaint, Key West feeling,” she said. “It just hasn’t lived up to its potential yet.” The city has the advantage of strong infrastructure, an ocean beach and proximity to the town of Palm Beach, Peters said. “Other towns like Boynton Beach don’t have that.”
Last week she bought the building at 2200 North Dixie Highway for $300,000 and already has leased 3,700 square feet of space in it to Tacos Al Carbon, whose tacos were voted the best in the county by Palm Beach Post readers.
Peters expects to close on the purchase of 600 Lake Avenue on Oct. 1 and will move the company’s headquarters there from Boynton Beach. The firm is also buying the building next door at 602 Lake Avenue, home to souvenir shop Studio 205 and the Java Juice Bar, both owned by City Commissioner Andy Amoroso.
He said he is quite impressed with Ariana Peters. “She’s a go-getter: young, aggressive and with a fresh set of eyes,” he said. Amoroso likes the fact that Peters “already is talking about painting with nice Key West colors and doing renovations” in his building. As a city commissioner, “anytime someone buys a building, I’m excited because tax revenue goes up,” he said. “They’re very energetic, and that only helps us in the long run.”
Developing in Lake Worth is not without its challenges, however. “In any town where there’s a lot of potential, there’s also a lot of backlash,” Peters said. “People worry about overdevelopment. You don’t want to cause too much of a ruckus, but you see the potential in the town.” The good news: “once people realize this isn’t Brickell City Centre, they’ll get behind everything.”
Peters, who studied journalism for two years at the University of Miami, before leaving to join her father’s company, says her youth hasn’t raised many obstacles. “It can be a little difficult when I meet someone for the first time, especially when I’m with my sisters. They might not take me as seriously,” she said. “But once they understand I have the knowledge, that dissipates quickly.”
And youth has its advantages. “My dad never had a website or social media presence until we got involved,” Peters said.