By Brian Bandell – Senior Reporter,
South Florida Business Journal;
Eastwind Development Group has taken over and redesigned the first major apartment project planned in the Warehouse District of West Palm Beach. Located on the outskirts of downtown, the collection of warehouses along Clare Avenue and Elizabeth Avenue is transitioning from industrial use to dining and entertainment.
In December, a group of six buildings housing a food hall, a brewery, retail and co-working space in the district sold for $18.5 million.
John “Jack” F. Weir, president of Palm Beach Gardens-based Eastwind Development, said he likes what’s going on in the West Palm Beach Warehouse District, as it reminds him of the Wynwood Arts District in Miami and 12 South near Nashville. When an opportunity became available in the neighborhood, he jumped on it.
“The missing piece has really been residential in this area,” Weir said.; Developers Peter Cummings and Julie F. Cummings had the 5.53-acre site at 1630, 1710, 1940 and 1980 Clare Ave. under contract from Murphy Construction Co. and Jamco Inc.
The property currently has 55,519 square feet of warehouses. The Cummings’ successfully rezoned the property for apartments with ground-floor retail in 2018. It had a cube block design. A broker approached Eastwind Development in fall 2018 and said the Cummings wanted to sell their contract on the property, Weir said. Eastwind Development acquired the deal from them for enough money to cover the Cummings expenses, plus a bit extra, Weir said.
Now, Eastwind Development has filed an amended site plan for the project with a new design and the same density, called District Flats. The project would have 178 apartments and 2,700 square feet of commercial space in buildings of three and four stories.
A parking garage would be placed in between the two buildings. The Cummings’ design had apartments surrounding the garage, but Weir said it was more economically feasible to have mesh walls around the garage so it had better ventilation.
“We wanted something that had a little bit of restored warehouse look but was also a little more finished,” Weir said.
The developer pledged to make 36 of the apartments there workforce housing, with rents set for households earning no more than 140 percent of median income. Units would range from 550 to 1,000 square feet. There would be 26 studios, 86 units with one bedroom, 18 units with one bedroom and a den, and 48 units with two bedrooms.
The amenities would include an interior pool courtyard with cabanas, a garden courtyard, a dog park and a public art park on the south side of the project.; As for the commercial space, Weir would like to see a coffee roasting company there. There would also be 1,000 square feet of outdoor seating.
District Flats was designed by MSA Architects.
Weir expects his new site plan to go before the city Planning Commission in February and the City Commission in March. He hopes to break ground this summer.
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Vice President of Asset Management at Eastwind Development LLC
Eastwind Development, LLC, a developer of multifamily rental housing based in Palm Beach Gardens, has promoted Stephanie Miller to Vice President of Asset Management, effective as of January 1, 2019. Ms. Miller joined the company in 2015 and has served as Director of Asset Management for the last four years, overseeing the Eastwind portfolio and supervising the property management companies retained by the company.
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Eastwind Development has promised Palm Beach Gardens officials that if they allow 136 apartments, 14 will be rented at rates that police, firefighters, teachers and nurses can afford.
PALM BEACH GARDENS — A Palm Beach Gardens developer wants to build apartments on land once slated for a six-story office building.
The question is how many apartments Eastwind Development will be allowed to build in City Centre, a commercial development at the corner of PGA Boulevard and Ellison Wilson Road. Right now, the number is zero.
If the city council makes changes to allow a mix of residential and commercial development, the developer could build 95 apartments, Palm Beach Gardens Planning & Zoning Director Natalie Crowley said.
But the developer is hoping to build 136 apartments in the planned Solera at City Centre because he’s promised to include 14 that police officers, firefighters, teachers and government employees can afford.
It’s up to the city council whether to approve the additional apartments on the 3-acre parcel in the southwest corner of City Centre, which also is home to Twisted Trunk Brewing, Sara’s Kitchen and PNC Bank. City Centre is roughly 14 acres.
Eastwind Development President Jack Weir said he wants this to become a template for developers in northern Palm Beach County and the county as a whole. He’s also trying to show investors that projects with workforce housing, also called essential services housing, make less risky investments. Tenants rent them out faster and stay longer, he said.
“It contributes to the health of the community when people can live near where they work, where their children go to school, where they shop,” said Weir, who also is a board member of the Housing Leadership Council of Palm Beach County, a nonprofit organization that works on housing affordability issues.
It also benefits Business Development Board officials to have a variety of housing options when they’re trying to attract new businesses to Palm Beach County, Weir said.
City Centre is across from an unincorporated pocket where county officials approved 70 yet-to-be-built condos along the Intracoastal Waterway.
The Solera at City Centre apartments would generate less traffic than the commercial development approved for the site, which has been vacant for more than 20 years, according to the developer’s application. The city approved a 57,300-square-foot office building, but it was never built.
The apartments would range from 700 square feet for a one-bedroom to 1,250 square feet for a three-bedroom. Most would be one or two bedrooms. All would have 9-foot ceilings, tile and wood plank flooring, stainless steel appliances, granite countertops and conservation features to slash utility bills.
Eastwind plans to rent the apartments for working people for $1,525 to $1,775 a month, according to the development application. The rental rates will float, but the goal is to keep them $100 to $150 below the market rate for one-bedroom apartments and $200 to $250 below the going rate for the two-bedroom apartments, Weir said.
Eastwind put the property under contract in July. Weir said a confidentiality agreement prevented him from disclosing the sale price because the deal with City Centre Associates had not closed.
Although the City Centre isn’t within a quarter-mile radius of the future Tri-Rail station where experts have encouraged workforce housing, it is in a Palm Tran service area, Crowley said. It’s also within walking distance of grocery stores, restaurants and shops.
“We really like this location,” he said. “One of the things that we look for is walkability.”
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