Photo:A mural on the wall of Alexander Lofts pays homage to Alexander Graham Bell.
Southeast Florida Roundup
Downtown West Palm Beach gets a housing boost
West Palm Beach's condo and apartment market is surging.
Later this summer, the 85 - unitdown - town rental project Alexander Lofts will begin taking deposits from tenants. That's a milestone for developer RAM Realty Services and another step forward for residential living in downtown West Palm Beach.
For the first time since the recession, the city has seen a surge of interest in apartment development and the return of condo projects. The city is tracking downtown area projects totaling at least 1,000 condo and apartment rental units, though the number actually under construction is less than 200. The most recently approved proposal was developer G.A.K. Partners' contentious Chapel-by-the-Lake project, so nicknamed because it will occupy an open-air chapel site being sold by First Baptist Church. The city approved a plan for a 22-story, 75-unit luxury condo tower there.
Alexander Lofts is being built out of a renovated historic building that dates to 1926 and has foot-thick brick walls. Home to a Bell regional office, it was purchased by Palm Beach Gardens-based RAM in 2012 for conversion to apartments. "We saw an opportunity in the market that wasn't being filled," says RAM marketing director Shari Meltzer. The project is named for Alexander Graham Bell. RAM paid Los Angeles artist Tristan Eaton $35,000 for the striking mural that adorns the outside. RAM likely will rent units for at least $1,300 a month. The building should be ready for occupancy early next year.
Next door, RAM is in a joint venture with Kolter Urban to develop Isis, a 16-story, 200-unit luxury condo project. Kolter is nearing sellout of its 467-unit Two City Plaza in West Palm Beach. An earlier project, One City Plaza, sold out in 2005.
Ron Bessems, a Netherlands-born inventor who holds a master's in applied physics, runs a one-man company, Promixis, in Jupiter, which develops software and designs hardware. Bessems has focused since 2009 on automation solutions that help MS, ALS and spinal-cord injury patients. His work gives them the ability to do things like turn on the lights or TV without help. He expects to hit $250,000 in revenue this year. "A big part of this is educating facilities on the availability of these technologies," he says. "Promixis can give people with physical disabilities some real independence back."
Tom Shea, cofounder of Right Management Florida/Caribbean, stepped down as CEO but continues as president. Co-founder, CFO and Executive Vice President Maureen Shea became CEO. Lisa Wulf, senior vice president and controller, was promoted to CFO.
BOCA RATON - Brand company Mela Artisans raised $3 million in equity financing from Aavishkaar, a venture capital and private equity firm in India. Mela markets jewelry, accessories, decor and other items that combine handcrafting traditions of India with contemporary design. > Cloud software company Aplicor raised $5.6 million from New World Angels.
COCONUT CREEK - Wholesale bakery company Cusano's Italian Bakery is consolidating operations at a 270,000-sq.-ft. facility in Coconut Creek and will add 20 jobs to its 153.
FORT LAUDERDALE - Light leasing company Future Energy Solutions relocated its North American headquarters from Hollywood to 40,000 square feet in Fort Lauderdale and plans to add 70 employees over two years to its current 40. > Developer Ocean Land Investments will develop 16-unit AquaLuna Las Olas, a companion to its 22-unit AquaVita Las Olas waterfront condo project in Las Olas Isles. AquaVita is scheduled for completion in January, and AquaLuna is scheduled for completion in December 2015. The company is planning other condo projects for Las Olas Isles and surrounding areas.
Gunther Motor broke ground on a $16-million Kia dealership to open in late 2014 or early 2015. Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport in partnership with U.S. Customs and Border Protection installed 10 automated passport control kiosks to expedite processing of inbound travelers holding U.S. and Canadian passports. The project cost $460,000. 71lbs, a firm that goes after money owed shippers under guarantees by delivery companies, raised $2.3 million from investors IDEA Fund Partners and an undisclosed firm.
HOLLYWOOD - Memorial Healthcare System received approval from the United Network for Organ Sharing to offer adult heart transplants at Memorial Regional. Dialysis company Pure Life Renal raised $10.5 million in venture capital from Montreux Equity Partners, Noro-Moseley Partners and an undisclosed firm.
SUNRISE - American Express will add 100 jobs at a new south Florida regional operations office. American Express employs 3,200 in Broward and also will relocate 1,700 jobs from around Florida to Sunrise. > Telehealth company MDLive raised $23.6 million from Nashville-based venture capital firm Heritage Group, Kayne Anderson Capital Advisors and Sutter Health to build out MDLive's cloud system and a second-opinion program for patients.
TAMARAC - City Furniture completed a private compressed natural gas fueling station and will convert the majority of its delivery feet to CNG. It plans to have the entire feet on CNG by 2016.
VERO BEACH - Aircraft part company TrueAero located in Indian River County and will create 21 jobs.
WEST PALM BEACH - Nonprime auto finance company Automatic Finance moved its headquarters from Maryland to downtown and will hire 40. It received $120,000 in incentives.
DEERFIELD BEACH — Drug company SHL Pharma completed a $6-million renovation of its factory and R&D facility and will hire at least 30 to add to its 44 and receive $90,000 in state and local incentives.