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South Florida Real Estate Project Part of Larger Trend Reinventing Cities

Plans are moving forward for a massive development in downtown West Palm Beach that’s expected to turn 6 acres of underutilized land into a 1.1 million square-foot village of hotel rooms, retail shopping, and restaurants.

The Palm Beach Post reports developer Michael Masanoff recently received unanimous approval from one of the government entities that must okay the project; other hurdles will still have to be cleared. According to the newspaper, the development includes:

  • a 21-story building with more than 300,000 square feet of “Class A” office space;
  • a 25-story apartment building consisting of more than 400 residential units;
  • a 13-story, 300-room hotel; and
  • an additional 33, 000 square feet of retail space.

The plan is an ambitious one with an estimated price tag of $300 million. It’s the kind of development that those who follow commercial real estate in South Florida might have characterized as a pipe dream during the dark days of the recession – and they would have been right to do so. Masanoff himself has said he’s been working on the transformative project for two decades.

But as more details emerge, the more the proposed development looks like part of a larger nationwide trend, one that RealtyTimes.com recently called the “Rise of the 18-Hour City.”

Changes in City Living

In the past, two types of cities existed in the United States: fast-moving, high-density metropolitan areas that operated 24 hours a day, and smaller urban areas that kept to a 9-to-5 schedule as commuters retreated to their quiet homes in the suburbs after the workday.

Now, there’s a middle ground emerging: redeveloped urban cores that combine workplaces, residential housing, dining, and retail. They’re not quite 24-hour cities – their streets are pretty deserted between midnight and 6 a.m. – but are more like 18-hour cities.

18-Hour Cities Contribute to Economic Growth

A recent real estate industry report, Emerging Trends in Real Estate 2015, described the 18-hour city phenomenon as spurring reinvestment and raising the quality of life in a number of mid-sized metropolitan areas.

“The trending cities are not Manhattan, and probably don’t want to be. But that is their polestar, the model that has demonstrated that the right urban mix bolsters occupancy, that density raises values, and that vibrancy attracts investment capital,” the report said.

But the study, a joint project of the Urban Land Institute and PricewaterhouseCoopers, also urged caution among commercial real estate investors.

“Investing requires a deep knowledge of these local markets,” the authors said. “Buyers have more markets to consider now that the 18-hour centers are putting the elements in place to ratchet up their investment capital flows.”

What Will Effect Be in West Palm Beach?

This latest redevelopment effort drawing headlines in West Palm Beach has its doubters, to be sure. Questions have already been raised about the impact on traffic and whether the local area can support the ambitious project.

At the Law Offices of Larry E. Bray, we’ll be watching how all of this unfolds to ensure we have a detailed knowledge of the region’s commercial real estate market. If you have questions about purchasing or selling real estate, or need legal representation in any other way, contact us to schedule a free consultation.

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