WEST PALM BEACH — City commissioners gave back-to-back approvals Monday to a land lease for a major office tower downtown and to terms for a major mixed-use project for Northwood Village.
The commissioners and mayor, acting as the West Palm Beach Community Redevelopment Agency, unanimously consented to lease the tent site, at Okeechobee Boulevard and South Dixie Highway, to developer Charles Cohen. The vote paves the way for a luxury tower at the gateway site, with 24 floors of offices atop a 40-foot-high lobby.The CRA also unanimously approved a project at the city-owned Anchor Site, at the western terminus of Northwood Road, that will include about 350 apartments as well as offices, shops and possibly a grocery store.Both projects are considered game-changers for their locations.
The city has spent years trying to attract a developer to the tent site, which occupies a prominent spot at the entrance to downtown.Under the deal approved Monday, Cohen Brothers Realty Corp. of Florida LLC will pay about $1 million per year for the 2.4-acre city-owned property, which is appraised at $25.7 million. It’s a 50-year lease with an option for another 49 years, or for Cohen to buy it.Cohen, whose company has built signature office towers from New York City to Los Angeles, can build up to 490,000 square feet at the West Palm Beach site.“We believe this project will be among the most successful we’ve ever undertaken,” he said, meeting with the commissioners in a Zoom teleconference because of coronavirus constraints on the board. “It will be a legacy project for me.”Two other office towers are under construction downtown and a third is widely expected to be built next to the waterfront, about two blocks from the tent site. But Cohen said demand will outstrip supply of luxury offices in the city.His building will incorporate the latest technology and would attract the highest order of finance-industry tenants, he said. “I’m a firm believer in, ‘If you build it, they will come.’ ”The development of the 3.3-acre Anchor Site should be complete in about three years, said Gilbert Behamou of Immocorp.Immocorp, using Miami architect Kobi Karp, plans a cluster of low- and mid-rise buildings.
Immocorp’s Frank Gottsman said his firm hopes to draw visitors to the area and its businesses, with a project that has an artistic feel, reasonably priced apartments, a grocery store and offices. It would serve as a town square, possibly with a train stop for expanded Tri-Rail service.The project would populate the western end of the Northwood Road corridor, a trendy stretch of shops and restaurants that links to the Currie Park waterfront to the east.