The Real Deal Miami

Boca Raton board approves Penn-Florida’s plans for assisted living facility downtown

Penn-Florida had planned an apartment building for the site before the recession

Rendering of proposed ALF

The Boca Raton Planning and Zoning Board approved a plan for an upscale, 193-unit assisted living facility to be developed by Penn-Florida Companies in downtown Boca Raton.

The Royal Palm Assisted Living Facility will be developed on a 1-acre site at 375 East Royal Palm Road, one block south of Palmetto Park Road. It will mark the first ALF for Penn-Florida, which is also developing the Mandarin Oriental Residences in Boca Raton.

Richard Bassell, Penn-Florida’s director of planning and development, said it is too early to estimate the cost to develop the ALF and declined to comment on the proposed financing source.

The ALF, which will be operated by the Vero Beach-based Watercrest Senior Living Group, will have 63 memory-care studios ranging from 363 square feet to 495 square feet; 70 studios with 417 square feet to 436 square feet; 50 one-bedroom units with 496 square feet to 609 square feet; and 10 two-bedroom apartments with 679 square feet to 720 square feet, according to the developer.

In addition to 44,811 square feet of parking, the Boca Raton ALF will feature a living room, salon, fitness and wellness areas, a doctor’s office and a pool and recreational deck, the plans show.

Records show Penn-Florida affiliate Royal Palm Road Associates, Ltd., paid $1.2 million for the property in July 2005. The site stretches over six lots. The only building currently on the site is a vacant, 91-year-old apartment building. 

In 2005, the Boca Raton CRA approved Penn-Florida’s previous plan to develop a 43-unit multifamily building with a garage on the site currently planned for the ALF. The agency approved an extension of that approval order, but both have since expired.

Bassell told The Real Deal that although he wasn’t at the company at that time, he thinks the recession led the company to cancel the plans. “Since then,” he said, “the market has changed and an ALF became the highest and best use for the land.”  

Developers are increasingly turning from condo development to apartments, amid slumping condo sales, which could eventually lead to a glut of rentals, experts say.

Jack McCabe, CEO, McCabe Research & Consulting in Deerfield Beach, said about 10,500 apartment units have been completed in South Florida in the last 18 months, and another 18,000 apartments are scheduled to be delivered during the next two years. Early this year, a Miami Downtown Development Authority report showed that Greater Downtown Miami will see more rental apartments delivered than condominiums in 2017 for the first time ever.