Southeast Florida roundup
The Next Big Thing: Tradition in St. Lucie County is poised for big growth
Signs point to a Tradition growth spurt, consulting firm predicts.
The Next Big Thing Signs point to a Tradition growth spurt, consulting firm predicts.
The stretch along I-95 in St. Lucie County known as Tradition is notable for just a few commercial developments: A couple of medical research buildings, a hospital and the former studio of a digital arts flop.
But economic consulting firm and Tradition development manager Fishkind & Associates predicts big times ahead for the land between the Crosstown Parkway and Becker Road exits. The site will be the next major suburban office and commercial center on the Southeast Florida coast, the company says.
The prediction is based on the scarcity of large tracts of raw, developable land in the three southeast Florida counties as well as the Tradition site’s attributes: It’s close to the bulk of Florida’s population; it has I-95 access, approvals are in place for 15 million square feet of development; backbone infrastructure is complete; it’s in historically high growth Port St. Lucie and St. Lucie County, and there’s just one owner — Tradition Land, with Which Fishkind has contracted to manage development since lender Investors Warranty of America took control of the property from former developer Core Communities in 2011 through foreclosure.
Tradition Land has 1,200 commercial acres and 2,600 residential acres it can develop. The larger Tradition development, at 8,200 acres, already has 2,600 homes and 1 million square feet of retail, office, health care and R&D space. Wes McCurry, who was president of Tradition under Core and now works for Fishkind, says the area presents a rare opportunity to create an Employment center.
It’s already gotten its mojo back as a residential center. New-home starts are gaining momentum, reports Brad Hunter, chief economist and director of consulting for housing market consulting firm Metrostudy, which counted 217 starts during the four quarters ending in March, up from only 82 starts in 2012 and 42 in 2011.
“Tradition is once again flexing its muscles as the 900-pound gorilla of the Treasure Coast,” Hunter says. “Real demand is evident, in that the homes are being moved into by bona-fide users as fast as they are getting completed.”
BOCA RATON — Wayne, N. J.-based Valley National Bancorp will enter the Florida market by acquiring Boca Ratonbased 1st United Bancorp for roughly $312 million in stock. 1st United’s 1st United Bank, the seventh-largest publicly held bank based in Florida and the largest bank based in Palm Beach County, has $1.4 billion in deposits, $1.2 billion in loans and 21 branches. After the deal, Valley will have $18.1 billion in assets and 225 branches in New Jersey, New York and Florida. > Office Depot expects to close at least 400 U.S. stores in the wake of acquiring Office Max. Merger synergies are coming quicker than expected, and the company expects 2014 adjusted operating proft to be not less than $160 million, up from an earlier projected $140 million.
FELLSMERE— Organic shrimp and oyster producer Florida Organic Aquaculture opened its new production and research facility, the largest closed-water shrimp production plant in the nation at 180,000 square feet.
FORT LAUDERDALE — As part of a plan to grow to 100 fights daily by 2017 from Fort Lauderdale- Hollywood International Airport, JetBlue in October will launch daily service to Cartagena, Colombia, and Las Vegas. The airline now fiesto 32 destinations from Fort Lauderdale.
FORT PIERCE — Harbor Community Bank will buy nine central Florida branches of Banco Popular’s Popular Community Bank along with $230 million in associated deposits and $115 million in loans. Harbor, in a separate deal, is acquiring $250 million in assets from Highlands Independent Bank, a six-branch bank based in Sebring. The deals will bring Harbor to $1.1 billion in assets and a presence in 11 Florida counties.
INDIANTOWN— Fresh Shrimp USA bought 40 acres to build an aquaculture facility.
MIRAMAR— Aviation maintenance company Lufthansa Technik will create 24 jobs as it expands and consolidates in Miramar.
POMPANO BEACH— In a public-private venture with Chevron Energy Solutions, Broward County broke ground on a biogas facility that will turn restaurant fats, oil and grease and other waste into enough electricity to power 800 homes.
ROYAL PALM BEACH — Immunology products company Biotest Pharmaceuticals opened its 15th U.S. plasma collection center and national training site in Royal Palm Beach. It will add 50 jobs.
STUART— Fishing boat builder Ocean Master Marine relocated from West Palm Beach to a 15,000-sq.-ft. building in Martin County and hired two dozen workers.
BOCA RATON — A 27,000-sq.-ft., eight-bedroom house owned by investment firm owner Marc Bell, with a home theater modeled on the bridge of Star Trek’s Enterprise, a library, gym and basketball court, is listed at $35 million, the highest listing price for a Boca home. The house’s ballroom has 60 arcade games.
Profile: Hoffman’s Chocolate
For 38 years, family-owned Hoffman’s Chocolate in central Palm Beach County was known for its Holiday Wonderland light display. It acquired two companies, California-based Good Fortunes fortune-cookie company in 2009 and Boca Bons in 2010. In December, BBX Capital acquired it and created a new subsidiary, BBX Sweet Holdings, under Jarett Levan, BBX president and the son of BBX chair and CEO Alan Levan. It has become an acquirer: Boynton Beach chocolate maker Williams & Bennett and California-based Jer’s Chocolates and Helen Grace Chocolates. BBX Sweet has $11 million in revenue.
Citi Private Bank hired William Woodson from Credit Suisse as managing director and head of the North American Family Office Group. He will be based in West Palm Beach. At Credit Suisse, Wood son headed ultra-high net worth and family office business for the North American private bank.