The Harbourside development in Jupiter is being built and tenants are signing on the dotted line…slowly.
While the developer and a town official praise the project’s progress, real estate experts wonder whether the complex is too ambitious for the area.
Brian West, president of Westco Development Corp., a Palm City-based shopping center developer, is concerned about Harbourside’s rental rates, tight configuration, garage parking, access from the street and lack of visibility for many of the project’s tenants, among other issues.
Said West: “I hope they make it, but everything about that project doesn’t make sense.”
Construction on the 360,000-square-foot Harbourside continues on the northwest corner of Indiantown Road and U.S. 1 in Jupiter. The $150 million project on the Intracoastal Waterway, a mix of marina/restaurant/retail and hotel, is expected to open in the summer of 2014.
The developer, North Palm Beach-based Allied Capital & Development, calls it a “Mizner Park on the Waterfront” that will attract boaters, shoppers and tourists and create hundred of jobs.
Among the signed leases: Bravo! Italian restaurant, taking 7,000 square feet. Bravo! is a smaller sister restaurant of Brio restaurant, which has locations at CityPlace in West Palm Beach, The Gardens mall in Palm Beach Gardens and the Boca Center in Boca Raton. This would be the first Palm Beach County location for Bravo!
Also coming to Harbourside: Too Bizarre, the artsy restaurant with a location on Indiantown Road in Jupiter. (It’s not clear whether this is a move or a new location.) Also signed: Deep Blu Seafood Grille of Orlando.
But perhaps most importantly, Wyndham Grand Resort confirmed last week it will open at the center, according to a spokeswoman at Wyndham Hotel Group in New Jersey. The resort is set to be a 179-room property, plus conference center.
Meanwhile, talks are ongoing with a number of national retailers that have expressed interest in Harbourside but haven’t finalized leases.
They include women’s retailers White House/Black Market, Loft, Chico’s, Francesca’s Collections and Republic of Couture.
Other restaurants considering a spot include BurgerFi, a burger chain, and TAPS, an Atlanta-area gastropub.
A deal to bring an 8,000-square-foot Tommy Bahama restaurant and retail store to the site remains under discussion.
Real estate observers say they wonder whether Harbourside will be able to nail down retail tenants to take space in the center.
For one, they question the rents being sought, around $35 a square foot, plus taxes and insurance that push total occupancy costs to around $50 a square foot. High rents are manageable during winter season and a robust economy, but high rent payments can be unsustainable during the off-season, experts say.
Richard Lackey, president of the Lackey Cos. of Palm Beach Gardens, said waterfront does command a higher price for restaurant space. Nonetheless, “In order for restaurants to be successful, they have to have occupancy costs that are realistic,” said Lackey, an international restaurant broker. “It appears to me that the asking rental rate (plus add-ons) is substantially higher than the market can pay.”
Nicholas Mastroianni III, vice president of Allied Capital, said the lease rates are “an average. Some will pay more or less, depending on the location.”
Helping boost leasing is the announcement of the Wyndam hotel deal, which has brought the project tremendous credibility, said Mike Villella, Jupiter’s finance director.
“The biggest draw is getting the brand name hotel,” Villella said. “Tenants have been on hold waiting to see who the brand was going to be.” With the high-end Wyndham Grand name, the property “will be a destination, which has really been the plan.”
Mastroianni agreed, saying the hotel deal “absolutely” has galvanized prospects, with several tenants moving forward on their lease talks now.
But some brokers still are wary.
Orin Rosenfeld, president of Rosenfeld Realty Advisors in Boca Raton, said the area already has too many vacant retail spots. He cited the Shoppes at Jupiter on the northeast corner of the intersection, and Jupiter Square on the southeast corner, which he said have rental rates ranging from the teens to the 20s, not including taxes and insurance.
“I wish them the best,” Rosenfeld said, “but I don’t see how they’re going to realize those kind of rental rates in the area, which is very seasonal and has a lot of space available.”
But Mastroianni said the retail spots mentioned by Rosenfeld are not in the same league with Harbourside’s waterfront and design: “You can’t compare the space across the street. It’s class B space, at best.”
Mastroianni also noted that Harbourside could have easily signed up a number of tenants quickly, but Harbourside decided to be choosy about creating a selective mix of shops and eateries. “We haven’t signed every tenant that wanted in,” he said.
It’s true, Villella said. Bars have come to the town complaining they aren’t welcome at Harbourside, but Villella said Allied has the right to pick the finest tenants it can.
Of course, time will tell whether Harbourside winds up being the success the town hopes for, both for residents and tourists, or whether it goes the way of other shopping centers, such as the once-troubled Downtown at the Gardens in Palm Beach Gardens.
“There are no guarantees it will be successful,” Villella said, “but it seems they’ve got the right plan in leasing quality tenants.”
Paul Rampell, an estate planning lawyer and local attorney for real estate mogul Donald Trump, is creating considerable buzz with his idea of a new twist on marriage. It’s called a wedlease.
Last month, the Palm Beach lawyer wrote an article for The Washington Post proposing the idea. Since then, the notion has gone viral, picked up by newspapers around the world.
Combining the words wedlock with leasehold, Rampell has devised what he believes could be a solution to the high rate of divorces. Simply put, create a marriage contract with a fixed amount of time, with a renewal date that can be ratified by both parties — or, not, if one of the spouses is unhappy.
Rampell came up with the concept after noticing that many people marry unsuccessfully over and over again, or else marry for the wrong reasons. In addition to being a symbol of love (and often, a religious sacrament), marriage also is a legal contract, as anyone who has gone through a divorce will attest.
The problem, as Rampell sees it, is that it is very hard to maintain a legal partnership that lasts a lifetime. The nation’s high divorce rate bears that out. Those who have gone through divorce know the experience can be as painful as a bad marriage.
“There is a fairytale quality to marriage and people are expecting to live happily ever after, but divorce can be a horror show,” Rampell said.
So why not stop the pain before it begins? Rampell reasoned.
“If there was a school where 50 percent of the students failed, we would restructure the program in the school,” Rampell said. “If marriages fail half the time, shouldn’t we think about restructuring it?”
Rampell’s wedlease could be customized to the exact wishes of the couple and last for as long as they wanted: Until children reach a certain age, or other circumstances take place. Even talking about a wedlease could help couples get to know each other better on a range of issues before they marry, he said.
And, rather than creating an incentive to get out of the marriage, Rampell thinks a wedlease could make marriages stronger: “If a couple knows their marriage is going to come to a conclusion after 10 years, they might treat each other differently if they hope to renew it. It would be an incentive for better behavior.”
Rampell said he has some clients who are interested in his idea and he has already drafted a sample wedlease. In an era of pre-nuptials and post-nuptial agreements, he said he doesn’t see why the wedlease shouldn’t be an option as well.
And, just in case you’re wondering, Rampell has been married for 27 years.
Alexandra Clough writes about the economy, real estate and the law.