Saturday, November 21, 2015



Right down the highway in coastal Hillsboro Beach there stands Le Palais Royal, a 60,500 sq ft estate on four acres of waterfront land – ocean to intracoastal – on the market for $159,000,000 – so, will the entity who has that much petty cash to purchase please step up? 

Planned to resemble France’s Palace of Versailles, a must-stop-by for your next trip to Paris, features include a huge $2MM marble staircase, more than $3MM of gold leaf, 11 bedrooms, 30-car underground garage, IMAX theatre, 3,000-bottle wine cellar, waterfalls  and a 1300 gallon fish tank.  Two guest houses, each about 3,000 sq ft, will be included on an extra lot.  Under construction are a go-kart track, ice-skating rink, bowling alley and night club, all to be ready in 2 years.

Right on: you never have to leave home.  It may take months to explore the complete house.

Wouldn’t this make a spectacular Winter White House?  But, can the US government afford it?  They would need to build an airstrip, perhaps a hospital and make mainland access readily available for cars and walkers.  It would definitely raise area home values.  A good move.

Friday, November 20, 2015


Main Streets Across the World 2014-2015 tracked over 500 of the top retail streets, and two in our area came up HIGH on the list.

Lincoln Road in Miami Beach ranked as the 10th most expensive retail street in the United States and Worth Avenue in Palm Beach ranked 14th, tied with Boston and Georgetown.  You, no doubt, won’t be surprised to learn that Manhattan’s Upper Fifth Avenue was at the very top of the list, 46% more expensive than #2, Hong Kong’s Causeway Bay. 

For our World Traveler readership, other streets on the list were England’s Bond Street, Paris’ Champs-Élysées, Milan’s Via Montenapoleone and Sydney’s Pitt Street Mall.  Rents rose impressively on the number one street, Manhattan’s Upper East Side, to $3500 per sq ft.  Between Madison Avenue’s East 72nd and 75th street, this usually thriving stretch is reported to be a “micro-pocket of retail that is really starting to flourish, thanks to the new Apple Store, the forthcoming Metropolitan Museum of Art building and new residential product.” Retail asking rents north of 72nd are increasingly exceeding $1,000 per square foot.

Lincoln Road rents, at $325 per sq ft, which sounds reasonable in comparison, have held steady for the past year.  National and international investors have sent Lincoln Road’s rents and property values way high.  Tenants include H&M, Anthropologie, Intermix, Forever 21, Apple, Gap, Urban Outfitters and lululemon and the same shops, as well as those on Worth Avenue listed below, can be found in local malls in other Florida cities.

Rents on Palm Beach’s Worth Avenue jumped up 20% to $150 per sq ft, resulting in one of the largest global growth rates.  Worth Avenue has attracted global luxury retailers, such as Cartier, Chanel, Giorgio Armani, Graff, Gucci, Hermès and Louis Vuitton.  Luxury real estate firm, Cushman & Wakefield, reports that part-time residents and international visitors have led to the growth.

An overhaul is planned for Lincoln Road with sidewalk enlargements, extensive landscaping and new pedestrian walkways on some side streets and in back alleys where new retail and restaurant venues will be found.  A Business Improvement District will be created by assessing area business and property owners to create a 10-year long maintenance and management program.

With rising consumer sentiment and increased tourism (100 MILLION tourists visited Florida in 2014 and more are expected this year) it might not be a bad idea to get on line on Worth Avenue and Lincoln Road and elsewhere on the Friday after Thanksgiving and going forward a few weeks after.  Online purchases are expected to be about 10% of retail sales, the other 10% visiting brick-and-mortar stores.

Sounds like our economy has severely improved, don’t-cha think?

Monday, November 16, 2015


You can sit back, relax, take a nap, read a good book instead of focusing for several hours on road travel!  If you haven’t heard this yet, by  mid-2017, you no longer have to drive to Orlando or from Miami to Ft Lauderdale, to West Palm Beach, as Brightline, the new name for All Aboard Florida trains, will accommodate you very well. 

Brightline will launch with five, four-car trains with capacity for 240 passengers each. The service plans to double that by June 2018, with ten sets of seven-car trains that can hold 356 passengers.  The whole route is about 235 miles.

They will have colorful exteriors, easily identifiable.  Cost to build, and thereby hugely change the economics of the area for the better, you ask?   $3BB.  The good news is that it will bring new developments in the station areas, from condos to commercial spaces.  Anticipated benefits include easing road congestion and alleviating pressure on crowded airports.

Using the Brightline trains will make a trip from Miami to Ft Lauderdale less than 30 minutes.  Miami to West Palm Beach will take less than 60 minutes.  Miami to Orlando will take about 3 hours on the Brightline.  With the younger generation less “car prone,” this will be a bonus for them.

Features include 

·       complimentary Wi-Fi

·       power outlets at each seat

·       food and beverage options

·       bicycle and luggage storage

·       wheelchair accessibility

·       cars will also be pet friendly.

The trains, designed by the Rockwell Group, are being built in Sacramento by Siemens. Construction has begun on stations in Miami, Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach, and on connecting urban centers that developers hope will become dining and shopping destinations. Another station will be next to Orlando International Airport.

All Aboard Florida is a wholly owned subsidiary of Florida East Coast Industries, which is involved in a range of infrastructure, transportation and real estate businesses. The project is being funded by private investors through the issuance of $1.75 billion in tax-exempt bonds and directly from the parent company. The company expects to become profitable in the first couple of years as it adds more trains and ridership increases.

Trains were the primary mode of transportation in the USA until after World War II, when cars and airlines took over the roads and skies. Federally funded Amtrak has remained the predominant interstate passenger train system, but it does not offer the kind of high-speed service found in Europe and Asia.

The closest thing the USA has to high-speed trains is Amtrak's Acela on the northeast corridor, which can go as fast as 150 mph. Brightline trains will not be high-speed, but its express service will be able to go up to 125 mph.

Sunday, November 08, 2015


Now that Florida East Coast Railway has negated objections to the train route, Palm Beach county is about to thrive.

The Railway is building communities with apartments, condos, restaurants, offices, retail shops and parking garages at stops in Miami, Ft. Lauderdale and West Palm Beach, and that will boost inventory, much needed, when completed.  More stations will also have a windfall of new development and that will bring in tax revenue, some of which will be applied to the cost of running the railroad, and revitalize rundown areas.  Residents who live in these new properties may be train riders.  Shops may have their employees riding the rails.

Tri-Rail has proposed 28 stations and new developments in those areas along their Tri-Rail Coastal Link on their eastern tracks, from Jupiter to Miami, which run almost parallel to I-95. 

Nearly 2500 new residences and 4.4MM sq ft of commercial space may be built in the next 10 years, if the Coastal Link is built.  A $1.25MM federal grant for some of the developments has been given to Coastal Link.  Broward County stations could have 4,220 new residenceds and 3.2MM sq ft of commercial space.  Tribune

\That could translate into nearly $5 million in extra taxes collected in both Palm Beach and Broward counties.

"A lot of the cities are thinking, 'How can I attract a station here and get economic value from it?'" said Jack Stephens, Tri-Rail's executive director.  These cities will be expected to help maintain and operate the stations.  Cities are adjusting their zoning laws to encourage these developments which complement public transportation.

Jupiter, Palm Beach Gardens, West Palm Beach, Lake Worth and Boynton Beach created special areas in their downtowns to allow these types of developments near potential stations.  Delray Beach also has been making similar adjustments to its rules. Even as its downtown is booming with development, Mayor Cary Glickstein said there is still room for office space.  "Not 'class-A' shiny buildings, but smaller-scale buildings that honor our town and will attract knowledge-based rather than service-based employment," he said.

Young folks and older adults want to live close to public transportation where it is easy to get around without a car.  In West Palm Beach, Transit Village, a 1.1MM sq ft development will include a hotel, offices, 400 apartments, retail shops, civic and community space.

Construction will begin early next year.  One place may just offer housing while another offers office buildings. Each location is expected to be distinctive, fitting in with each downtown's character.

Positive spin here!