Palm Beach Outlets is reviving Palm Beach Lakes Boulevard with its opening less than three months away.
Set for Feb. 14, the grand opening will unveil 80 or more outlet shops in the central portion of the mall at 1801 Palm Beach Lakes Blvd. The stores-to-be are about a half-million square feet of big gray concrete slabs at this point, but about half of the tenants already have applied to the city to build out their interiors. That includes such luxury brands as Ann Taylor and Tommy Hilfiger and at least eight shoe stores.
A strip along the Interstate 95 boundary including Whole Foods and Nordstrom Rack is expected to open next fall.
What could best be described as blighted — the 45-year-old Palm Beach Mall was nearly vacant — now benefits from $200 million in investment by New England Development Co. and its partners, who bought the property two years ago. That is expected to reverberate through the area’s economy, with 2,000 jobs on-site and a pickup for surrounding businesses.
“We think this is the revitalization to increase demand and put Palm Beach Lakes Boulevard back on the map as the go-to space of office users in West Palm Beach,” said Anthony Librizzi, vice president at CBRE in West Palm Beach, who helps sell condo towers along the strip as well as lease out office space in them.
Property managers say the interest in locating on Palm Beach Lakes has increased dramatically.
“We expect further new development where there’s opportunity and adaptive reuse of existing properties,” said Bob Sullivan of RJS Realty Group.
Vacant lots by Home Depot and other properties along the corridor are in negotiations now, he said.
The brighter future for the tarnished commercial corridor has already turned over some large properties at profitable prices.
A condominium building at 1645 Palm Beach Lakes Blvd. sold for 60 percent more in November 2012 — $15.4 million — than it had a year prior. And condos at 1700 Palm Beach Lakes sold for $18.5 million last year, up more than 20 percent from the 2005 sale price.
Librizzi said owners are also investing in renovations, and there is a lot of excitement to be on Palm Beach Lakes now. Once the mall is open, the interest in office rental will pick up more, he said.
Gabriela Seabolt, who helps lease The Forum office buildings just east of the mall for Pointe Group Advisors, said she has seen increased leasing in the past couple of months.
“It helps attract people. It’s a good selling point,” she said.
And as someone who moved up from Broward County where she had easy access to Sawgrass Mills, Seabolt has watched the daily construction with extreme interest from her sixth-floor office next door.
“Having this in my backyard is going to be awesome,” she said.
Developer’s liaison Tom Carabine said this week that Feb. 14 had been the eyed as the grand opening date for some time, but there were concerns this year about staying on schedule with the rainy weather. And J.C. Penney’s switch from its intention to stay in the mall during construction to abandoning the site called for a revamp of plans.
That building is coming down now and should be nothing more than rubble by Nov. 15, Carabine said. Then everything on site will be new.