New restaurants, apartments slated for downtown Boca Raton

Downtown Boca Raton soon will be brimming with new restaurants such as Junior’s — and hundreds of new apartments and residents. In fact, three major apartment buildings are open, or about to open.

Boca Raton Mayor Susan Haynie said the new apartment buildings are bringing seasonal residents, Baby Boomers and millennials back to urban spaces. The downtown is beautiful and “walkable,” Haynie said. Plus, “we are an extremely safe city, and I think people place a high value on that.”

These new properties bring a new level of luxury to apartment living. They also bring a new, astronomical level of rental prices.

Take 101 Via Mizner, at the northeast corner of Federal Highway and Camino Real.

The 366 apartments are part of a larger Via Mizner complex that will feature the five-star Mandarin Oriental Hotel, plus 85 luxury condos. The hotel and condo will be completed in 2018.

But the apartment building is ready and tenants are moving in, said Al Piazza, senior vice president with Penn-Florida Companies in Boca Raton.

Piazza said the apartments are larger than standard apartments. They range in size and price from a studio with 528 square feet, costing $1,845 per month, to a three-bedroom with 2,150 square feet costing a $5,895 per month.

For that money, residents can enjoy quartz countertops in the kitchen and bath; porcelain tile; and amenities that include an enlarged pool deck; men’s and women’s locker rooms and saunas; a fitness center; and a sky club lounge, with chef’s kitchen.

Are there that many people who will pay thousands of dollars each month to rent? Jack McCabe of McCabe Consulting is dubious: “While Boca Raton has a tremendous name, I don’t think the demand is really there.”

Plus, McCabe asked: “What millennial can afford $5,000 a month?”

You’d be surprised.

Piazza said the property is attracting plenty of people in their early 30s whose incomes are in “the hundreds of thousands of dollars. They’re not making $50,000 to $75,000.” Also, some wealthy Boca Raton parents are leasing apartments for their millennial children, Piazza added.

Other tenants include snowbirds, and people who are downsizing from large country club communities out west.

Said Piazza: “A huge group of people want to be in downtown Boca Raton,” where they can live in luxury near the ocean and walk to downtown shops and restaurants.

Scott Agran, president of Lang Realty, agreed: “I know three people who have sold their western properties in gated communities and have decided to rent in the Boca area, east.”

Piazza calls these residents “renters by choice.”

They can afford to buy a home, he said, but they choose to rent in a place with some “space and some style, and a different level of service.”

Piazza acknowledged that rents are high, and added that Penn-Florida even raised rents a little since first planned.

But Piazza said the units include the luxury finishes and amenities that people are willing to pay for. In fact, the best units, and the most expensive ones, “are the quickest to go,” Piazza said.

Across Federal Highway, another luxury apartment complex just opened up. City Walk, at 33 SE Eighth St., offers 229 apartments ranging from $2,015 for a one-bedroom unit to $3,645 for a three bedroom apartment.

Meanwhile, a third apartment complex is nearing completion.

Palmetto Promenade is a 378-unit apartment, townhouse and retail complex stretching three blocks on Palmetto Park Road, east of Federal Highway. The first 200 apartments will be ready for occupancy in October, with the remaining 178 ready in mid-December, said Dave DeMay, vice president of Kast, the project’s builder.

As the project was being built, developer Greystar enhanced the interior and exterior finishes to create “an ultra high-end community,” DeMay said.

For instance, the swimming pool was doubled in size from the original design; and the outdoor area now features a demonstration kitchen, including pizza oven. Inside, in some units there are now custom-painted Shaker style kitchen and bath cabinets and wine cellars, to name a few upgrades.

The project also features a clubhouse, business center, fitness center and yoga studio, said Gary Wallace, managing director of development for Charleston-based Greystar.

Luxury comes at a price. Rates start at $2,024 for apartments, which range from one to three bedrooms and go up to $4,384 a month; townhomes cost up to $5,329 a month. Sizes range from 712 to 2,922 square feet. (Rates were not available online for studios.)

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