Hotel planned for huge West Palm Beach project

New York hotelier Richard Born brought into Nora District megadevelopment

BD Hotels' Richard Born with rendering of planned Nora district (Richard Born by Studio Scrivo, NDT, Getty)
BD Hotels' Richard Born with rendering of planned Nora district (Richard Born by Studio Scrivo, NDT, Getty)

Place Projects and NDT Development’s 2-million-square-foot project in West Palm Beach’s burgeoning Nora District will include a prominent New York hotelier.

Richard Born, known in New York as the man behind BD Hotels, is among the principal investors, the Wall Street Journal reported.

Born will design the project’s 175-key hotel to mimic the aesthetics of a New York establishment, such as the Mercer or Bowery, rather than give it a South Florida vibe, according to the publication.

Place Projects and NDT’s plan will cost roughly $1 billion, and its first phase — including 13 buildings and 150,000 square feet of retail, bars and restaurants — is expected to break ground next month.

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Place Projects founder Joe Furst sought a deal with Born after hearing the hotelier was interested in expanding to South Florida. Furst had stayed in BD properties in New York. Sean MacPherson, a frequent BD collaborator, is also involved.

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This year, Place Projects and NDT, a local real estate and hospitality company, unveiled part of their plan for the Nora District, an area in northern downtown stretching from Palm Beach Lakes Boulevard south to Quadrille Boulevard, and from Dixie Highway west to the FEC Railway tracks.

Furst and Ned Grace of NDT have spent $40 million on redevelopment plans for the district, purchasing 75 properties across 13 acres. The city gave final approval to new development regulations in February, more than 10 years after the city attempted to revitalize the district by rezoning it.

Buildings up to 20 stories are allowed in parts of the district, although that maximum height is only achievable through transfer of development rights. That triggers an affordable housing requirement in residential high-rises.

Born owns and operates 24 hotels in New York City, totaling about 4,000 rooms. Last month, Born, MacPherson and Ira Drukier scored a legal victory at their Hotel Chelsea, when a judge denied the city’s motion to dismiss their $100 million lawsuit alleging stop-work orders improperly delayed renovations.

The hotel reopened early this year.

— Holden Walter-Warner