Developer sees Harbourside as ‘Jupiter’s downtown’

Harbourside Place “is Jupiter,” said Nicholas Mastroianni, as he stood on the almost-done development’s swimming pool deck overlooking the Intracoastal Waterway.

“Look around. You can shop. Connect to Riverwalk. Dock your boat. Rent a kayak. Eat outside. Listen to music. Watch the boats go by,” said Mastroianni, a Jupiter resident who is vice president of the company that expects to open the $150 million development in September. “Harbourside is casual. It fits.”

When the town council approved Harbourside Place in 2008 by a 4-1 vote, the two buildings on the dusty site were a vacant First Union Bank and the Burt Reynolds & Friends Museum. The wooden canoes from Deliverance and glossy photos of Reynolds with the likes of Loni Anderson and Sally Field are in storage. His pals are seeking another location to show the north county native’s memorabilia. Both buildings were demolished.

Six years later, 300 hard-hatted construction workers hustle to meet the opening for the 178-room Wyndham Grand Hotel, Tommy Bahama’s, Too Bizarre and other stores. Workers sand a white plaster wall that looks like ocean waves on the hotel’s sweeping marble staircase.

Landscapers plant palm trees along U.S. 1. Public art is installed around the 600-seat waterfront outdoor amphitheatre. A fountain, like the one on West Palm Beach’s Clematis Street where children play, is under construction. Jupiter police plan a substation.

A public entertainment area, as well as waterfront office space, is badly needed in northern Palm Beach County, said John True, a Realtor in Juno Beach.

“(Mastroianni) is building something that does not exist in north county: a waterfront destination with office and retail. The public will love it,” True said.

Traffic, bars worry some

But not everyone is happy about the opening of the 360,000-square-foot Harbourside, which has about the same square footage as Downtown at the Gardens. Harbourside is about one-third as large as The Gardens Mall and the Boynton Beach Mall.

Traffic is likely to be a problem when Harbourside opens, said Pat Magrogan, a Jupiter resident who has lived in north county since 1960. Harbourside is on about 10 acres, the same size as the Suni Sands Mobile Home Park on State Road A1A.

“The traffic is already bad at Indiantown and U.S. 1. When Harbourside opens, it’ll be worse,” Magrogan said.

Councilman Jim Kuretski, the lone dissenter in the 2008 vote, predicts Harbourside will be too pricey for many Jupiter residents. The restaurants and bars won’t attract the family oriented clientele he wants on the waterfront.

“Harbourside is going to put Jupiter on the map for bar crawls,” Kuretski said.

Mastroianni countered that Harbourside is in Jupiter’s designated entertainment district. Families will be drawn by the restaurants, docks, access to Riverwalk and public events at the amphitheater. A ballroom will be available for rent for weddings and other events.

“Harbourside isn’t just bars and restaurants. Harbourside ties in to the local community,” said Mastroianni, whose father Nicholas is president of the North Palm Beach-based Allied Capital & Development, the developers.

Foreign investment key

To finance Harbourside, Mastroianni signed up about 200 foreign residents who have invested $500,000 each through the EB-5 program. About 65 percent are from China, where Mastroianni said he has been to meet with prospective investors about 20 times. The other main investors are from countries such as South Korea, Taiwan, Russia, Brazil, Sweden, Italy, France and England.

The EB-5 program allows foreigners, their spouses and children younger than 21 to gain U.S. citizenship by investing in projects in the United States. Each investment must create 10 direct or indirect jobs in two years. All applicants must be approved by Homeland Security.

The elder Mastroianni said the slumping economy required him to use foreign investment.

Not only is Harbourside creating construction jobs, but the development will create another permanent 1,500 jobs, he said. Harbourside is providing public benefit through the water taxi, public amphitheater and the connection to Riverwalk. The project is bringing to life a long-dormant prime waterfront parcel, he said.

Harbourside is expected to generate about $750,000 annually in property tax revenue, according to Jupiter Finance Director Mike Villella.

“When you are driving by on U.S. 1 on the Indiantown Road bridge, Harbourside looks big,” said the younger Mastroianni, watching boats and paddle boarders float by on the Intracoastal Waterway. “But once people come inside, they’ll feel what Harbourside is all about. This will be Jupiter’s downtown.”

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