Economic Yearbook 2016
Southeast Florida: A surge of hotels and apartments
Residential development projects are spilling out from Fort Lauderdale's urban core.
Hotels and Apartments
As some companies shift offices from the suburbs to downtown, a surge of residential redevelopment projects spilling over from Fort Lauderdale's urban core is driving construction. Just north of downtown Fort Lauderdale, veteran local developer and hotel operator Dev Motwani is planning the Flagler Village Hotel, a $25-million project with 195 rooms, retail space and amenities. In addition, Alta Developers is planning the 212-unit Alta Flagler Village with two apartment towers and retail space.
Meanwhile, leasing has started at the 254-unit Amaray Las Olas, a luxury rental apartment building under construction near Las Olas Boulevard. The 30-story tower, being developed by the Rockefeller Group and Stiles Residential Group, is designed to attract high-income tenants with amenities like a coffee bar, lounge, yoga studio, swimming pool and dog spa. The building is scheduled for completion this spring.
WEST PALM BEACH
Connecting the Dots
Downtown West Palm Beach is seeing a strong upturn in the pace of new development. In January, the city commission gave preliminary approval to developer Navarro Lowrey's plan to tear down the vacant old City Hall and replace it with a 180-room AC Hotel by Marriott, apartments, shops and restaurants.
Navarro Lowrey plans a park and more retail on an adjacent leased site. City commissioners also hired the Van Alen Institute of New York to organize a design competition for the city waterfront and downtown in an initiative to enhance the identity of West Palm as a waterfront city.
In January, the long-awaited Hilton West Palm Beach opened adjacent to the Palm Beach County Convention Center. The 400-room hotel with ballrooms and conference rooms was the last piece in the master plan for CityPlace, the downtown retail-entertainment complex.
Meanwhile, construction continues on the downtown West Palm Beach terminal for All Aboard Florida's Brightline rail service, which will connect West Palm with Miami, Fort Lauderdale and Orlando. In addition to the terminal and nearby maintenance facility, the development will include 275 residential units, ground-floor retail/ restaurants, office space and an 800-space parking garage with an amenity deck. The project, scheduled for completion in 2017, will connect CityPlace with the Clematis Street shopping and entertainment district. Developer Jeff Greene continues to acquire land and develop apartments, office buildings and hotel rooms.
"The city of West Palm Beach is going through a major transformation with $2-billion worth of activity in the permit pipeline and 2,200 hotel rooms opening in the next several years," says Kelly Smallridge, president and CEO of the Business Development Board of Palm Beach County.
The downtown, which had no hotels, now has two coming. Penn- Florida is developing Via Mizner, an 830,000-sq.-ft., mixed-use project that includes a five-star Mandarin Oriental hotel and branded condos, scheduled for completion late next year. Via Mizner's first phase, being constructed by Moss Associates, includes 366 apartments in a 14-story Mediterranean-style building, retail, office space and a garage. West Palm Beach-based Kolter Group is building a 200-room Hyatt Place downtown.
People to Watch
» Kirill Tatarinov: The veteran Microsoft executive takes over as president and CEO of struggling Fort Lauderdale-based Citrix. He succeeds interim president and CEO Robert Calderoni, who will remain executive chairman. As executive vice president of the Microsoft Business Solutions Division, Tatarinov doubled revenue and increased profitability.
» Robert W. Runcie: The Broward County Public Schools superintendent was named 2016 Superintendent of the Year by the Florida Association of District School Superintendents. Runcie played a lead role in gaining voter approval of an $800-million bond issue in 2014, with the money to go for safety and modernization of schools, as well as updated technology, as part of its SMART (Safety, Music & Art, Athletics, Renovation and Technology) initiative.
» Wendy S. Link: The managing partner at Ackerman, Link & Sartory, was recently named chairwoman of the Economic Council of Palm Beach County, a non-profit organization that focuses on maintaining a probusiness environment in the county.
» Cooie Newman: The regional operations manager for Oculina Bank was recently named president of Port St. Lucie Business Women. Joining her on the board of the non-profit founded 35 years ago, were past-President Karen Ostrand, Vice President Michelle MacNichol, Treasurer Susan Fines and Secretary Tammy Crandall.
» Eric Arbuzow: Arbuzow was named general manager of Port St. Lucie Surf, a new semiprofessional soccer team in Port St. Lucie.
» James C. Jenkins: Palm Beach Atlantic University recently selected Jenkins, executive vice president of Esko, a private investment firm in Palm Beach, as its chairman. Jenkins' prior roles at the university include chairman of finance, investment and governance committees and board vice chairman
» Hilary McKeich: The former executive director of the Indiantown Chamber of Commerce is now the business development manager for Group One Safety & Security, a Stuart company that provides commercial and residential security systems.
» John W. Gurney: Gurney has been named economic development director for Okeechobee County and the city of Okeechobee. He chaired the business assistance committee of the Okeechobee Chamber of Commerce.
County population: 1.91 million, „¼+7.1% vs. 2011
Unemployment rate: 4.3%
Per capita income: $47,882
BROWARD COUNTY — With expansions such as JL Audio in Miramar, freight brokerage firm Total Quality Logistics in Dania Beach and Charter Schools USA at its Fort Lauderdale headquarters, the Greater Fort Lauderdale Alliance reported 1,432 new jobs along with 1,313 retained jobs in its 2014-15 fiscal year. Meanwhile, augmented reality company Magic Leap, based in Dania Beach but moving to Plantation, looks to do major hiring, raising $793.5 million from investors.
FORT LAUDERDALE — A number of high-profile hotel properties are fetching big prices, reflecting continuing investor demand, in part from investors wanting higher yields than they can find in Miami. Global investment firm Blackstone is selling the landmark Hyatt Regency Pier Sixty-Six Resort and Marina in Fort Lauderdale. The selling price for the 384-room resort and recently renovated 112-slip marina is expected to be about $200 million. The city has approved plans to construct two residential towers along with retail and office space on the 22.7-acre Intracoastal Waterway property. Three other high-profile properties have sold for $100 million or more in recent years, including the $460-million sale of the Diplomat Resort & Spa in Hollywood in 2014. The Water Taxi recently added an express route between the Hilton Fort Lauderdale Marina/Convention Center and Margaritaville Hollywood Beach Resort, using its 1960s-era Island Adventure boat. In addition, the Water Taxi added a stop in downtown Fort Lauderdale near the Riverside Hotel and Stranahan House museum.
Palm Beach County
County population: 1.44 million, „¼+7.9% vs. 2011
Unemployment rate: 4.5%
Per capita income: $62,963
BELLE GLADE — Belle Glade will be getting a 110-unit affordable housing project called Yew Court after the Florida Housing Finance Corp. approved tax credit incentives in January. About 600 affordable housing units are expected to be built in the Glades.
BOCA RATON — Cross Country Healthcare is moving to larger offices in Boca Raton and may hire up to 100 additional employees.
PAHOKEE — Economically depressed lakeside cities look forward to Sunshine State Biomass Cooperative investing $5 million to establish a yard waste recycling operation in Pahokee. The 25-acre site, including a 20,000-sq.-ft. existing recycling facility, will employ up to 200 people. The cooperative, in partnership with BioCarbon Technologies, operates an additional organic processing facility in Arcadia and plans a third facility in Fort Pierce.
PALM BEACH GARDENS — After combining two medical device brands into one company, Zimmer Biomet is expanding its operations in Palm Beach Gardens, adding 178 jobs to its 473 positions. Zimmer Biomet makes orthopedic reconstructive, dental and surgical products.
St. Lucie County
County population: 303,967, „¼+8.1% vs. 2011
Unemployment rate: 5.3%
Per capita income: $34,338
PORT ST. LUCIE/FORT PIERCE — Two major projects are under way along the county's U.S. 1 corridor. In Port St. Lucie, Teleperformance is opening a call center this spring with plans to add 300 jobs. In Fort Pierce, construction is under way on Rocla Concrete Tie's $10-million plant.
Indian River County
County population: 149,248, „¼+7.4% vs. 2011
Unemployment rate: 5.9%
Per capita income: $59,426
VERO BEACH — Local developer Bill Summers plans to turn the former Vero Beach Press Journal building into a large-scale mixed-use project. Summers' company, Newspaper Building LLC, purchased the 42,000-sq.-ft. building in November. Summers is considering various redevelopment concepts, including retail, hospitality and residential uses. One year ago, the city created an economic development zone for its historic downtown to channel increased tax revenue into civic improvements. After restoring Vero Beach polo last year, BG Polo & Equestrian is now hosting its 2016 winter season matches on Sundays through May 1. Bobby Genovese, chairman of BG Capital Group, purchased the 36-acre facility in 2014 and renamed it BG Polo & Equestrian Vero Beach. Genovese's other polo interests include BG Toronto Polo Club, BG Ocala Polo and Equestrian Club and BG Argentina Polo Club.
County population: 158,084, „¼+7.4% vs. 2011
Unemployment rate: 4.7%
Per capita income: $59,265
MARTIN COUNTY — Restoration work will begin soon on Bathtub Reef Beach and the northern half of Sailfish Point Beach, according to Martin County's coastal engineering division. Ferreira Construction will use sand from the St. Lucie Inlet and nearby flood shoals to build up the two beaches. Funding for this project will come from multiple sources, including the Florida Department of Environmental Protection. The project is scheduled to be completed in May, before the sea turtle nesting season begins.
County population: 40,232, „¼+1.7% vs. 2011
Unemployment rate: 5.2%
Per capita income: $31,736
OKEECHOBEE — A new Guy Harvey Outpost RV Resort and Marina at the mouth of the Kissimmee River on the north shore of Lake Okeechobee could be under construction next year, says John Gurney, economic development director for Okeechobee County and the city of Okeechobee. "It's the perfect project for the Okee-Tantie recreation area, which has been closed for years," he says. "The county has approved the project, and permitting, design and engineering work is already under way." Mark Ellert, president of Guy Harvey Outpost Resorts, says the resort will cater to bass fishing enthusiasts with an 86-slip marina, RV resort area, campsites, lodges, an outfitters shop, guides and fishing services and other amenities. A new Tractor Supply Co. Store has opened on U.S. 441 in downtown Okeechobee in a former Walmart building it will share with Harbor Freight Tools.