Southeast Florida Roundup
UF acquires Scripps campus, absorbs 500 researchers and staff
Life Sciences 19 Years Later ...
In 2003, the state under then Gov. Jeb Bush began a life-sciences recruitment spree by using $310 million in state money to lure California-based Scripps to open a Florida campus. It was said to be a transformational investment in Florida’s economy, the first of several research outfits recruited with tens of millions of state and local taxpayer dollars.
Scripps cost the most. The final deal in 2006 included the $310 million from Florida and another $269 million from local government. Now, the University of Florida has acquired the 30-acre Scripps Florida campus and absorbed its 500 researchers and staff. Scientists will have titles under UF and Scripps. UF also gets a 70-acre tract adjacent to Scripps that the county handed over to Scripps last year for $1. As part of the deal for Scripps in 2006, the county agreed to turn over the land if Scripps stayed 15 years and created a specified number of jobs. The site cost the county $16 million years ago and could be worth $1 million an acre now.
Of the marquee names the state and local governments recruited, only Max Planck Florida in Jupiter now remains as a stand-alone player. The rest were absorbed by other in-state institutions or closed.
- Locally based Tortoise Properties bought a two-acre site in downtown West Palm Beach where it plans 264 luxury apartments and retail. The site is at the front of the 40-acre NORA mixed-use redevelopment area.
- Developer Fortune International Group and Oak Capital launched sales of the Ritz-Carlton Residences in Pompano Beach, a project that will have a 117-unit oceanfront tower and an 88-unit tower with a private marina on the Intracoastal. Completion is scheduled for 2025.
- Boynton Beach chose Fort Lauderdale-based Affiliated Development to develop the Pierce, a mixeduse project off Federal Highway with 236 apartments and retail and restaurant space.
- Delray Beach-based Ed Morse Automotive Group acquired four dealerships in Illinois and Missouri. The deals add 217 employees to Morse’s 1,400 and brings the company to 27 dealerships.
- The Seminole Tribe-owned Hard Rock International paid $1.08 billion in cash for the 3,500-employee Mirage Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas. The company plans to build a second guitar-shaped hotel along the lines of its first in Hollywood.
- Singer Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville business launched Margaritaville at Sea and signed a partnership with Bahamas Paradise Cruise Lines to rebrand the small line and the company’s refurbished Grand Classica flagship as it continues two-day cruises to the Bahamas from the Port of Palm Beach in Riviera Beach. The first sailing of the renamed 658-cabin, 30-yearold Margaritaville Paradise will be in April. Bahamas Paradise sold its second ship, the Grand Celebration, in 2020.
- Contractor PAE plans to lay off 87 in West Palm Beach after losing a Navy contract to help run the Atlantic Undersea Test and Evaluation Center, which covers the range of undersea simulated warfare.
- Goodman Jewish Family Services of Broward County appointed Randy Colman president and CEO.
- Carrier Global says its headquarters in Palm Beach Gardens, called the Center for Intelligent Buildings, became the first commercial building in Florida to earn top designations for health and well-being and energy and environmental performance. It recently won the WELL Platinum Certification, which followed a 2019 designation as LEED Platinum. Carrier says only six buildings nationally hold both designations.
- Finfrock began hiring 200 at its new Belle Glade precast building components plant.