Business owner pays $3 million for two Dixie Highway sites in WPB

The dealing in Dixie land keeps getting better.

Two properties along South Dixie Highway in West Palm Beach recently sold for more than $1 million each, adding to the boom that continues to lure big money to this sizzling strip.

The properties’ buyer is interior decorator Sara McCann, owner of Hive Home Gift & Garden at 424 Palm St.

Last month, McCann paid $1.7 million for the Zeluck Windows and Doors building and parking lot at 1600 S. Dixie Highway.

And in January, McCann paid a whopping $1.5 million for the former Ambrosia restaurant at 1603 S. Dixie Highway in January. The property’s previous sale price: $195,000 in 1984, according to Palm Beach County records.

These latest deals add to the $6 million plunked down for the Carefree Theatre at 2000 S. Dixie Highway and adjoining property at 2100 S. Dixie Highway by New York developer Charles Cohen; and the $1.9 million paid by Palm Beach billionaire Jeff Greene for the former Mazda dealership at 2001 S. Dixie Highway.

“Can you believe all these sales? I’m astonished,” said Jonathan Gladstone, a longtime investor and owner of Gladstone Realty in West Palm Beach.

McCann, a Palm Beach interior decorator, said she plans to transform the Zeluck building into the headquarters of her design firm, McCann Design Group.

She’ll keep her 12,000-square-foot Hive emporium just off of Dixie Highway around the corner. McCann Design now operates out of Hive, but McCann said her firm needs more room.

As for the Ambrosia restaurant space, “We’re thinking of turning it into an extension of Hive. We’d love some Dixie Highway presence.” McCann said Hive is largely word-of-mouth because it’s on a side street.

But McCann isn’t yet sure how to use the Ambrosia space beyond making it a Hive gift store. Also, “we’re finding it needs more renovations than we thought it did,” she said.

McCann first opened Hive in 2013, after she concluded that leased space on Palm Beach lacked easy parking. She ended up buying the former warehouse of Palm Beach party planner Bruce Sutka and then renovated the space to turn it into a furniture and home furnishings showroom. Hive is both a retail space and a resource for the local decorating trade.

Now, by moving the design team to the Zeluck building, McCann said she will be able to turn the conference room into a “trade only” room to work with local designers.

McCann said turning the Zeluck building into office space should be done by August. The parking lot next door is a plus as well: It features about 22 spaces, room for whatever she plans to do with the Ambrosia site.

That’s important because this stretch of South Dixie Highway is becoming a destination for people seeking design, art (the Norton Museum is nearby) and fine dining.

Not only does it draw regionally, it also attracts people from across the bridge. Indeed, businesses that interest Palm Beach residents have found success along Dixie Highway.

These include restaurateurs Clay Conley of busy Grato eatery in the former Reward Lighting building at 1901 S. Dixie Highway; and Eddie Schmidt and Ozzie Medeiros of the popular Table 26 restaurant at 1700 S. Dixie Highway.

The street now has gained national attention with the investment by prominent developer and classic film aficionado, Charles Cohen. Recently, Cohen unveiled plans for a seven-story, mixed-use center that will feature six movie screens, 97 apartments, and ground floor space for a restaurant and design showrooms.

The area also features the EmKo art gallery at 2119 S. Dixie Highway, and The Greene School, an upscale primary school.

While most of the deals thus far has taken place south of Okeechobee Boulevard and north of Belvedere Road, the action has started to move south.

New York-based Time Equities, led by renowned developer Francis Greenberger, plans a massive redevelopment of the Prospect Place shopping center, at 3111 S. Dixie Highway. Grand plans for five, 15-story condos, plus shops and restaurants.

At the corner of South Dixie Highway and Southern Boulevard, Gladstone continues to field offers for tenants wishing to lease the former Gulfstream Bistro & Seafood building he owns at 3815 S. Dixie Highway.

Thus far, 90 percent of the interest is from restaurants, he said.

“People are speculating about what’s going to happen in the next two years, because you’ve got three billionaires, two multimillion-dollar projects and a huge amount of investors here,” Gladstone said.

Alexandra Clough writes about the economy, real estate and the law.

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