PEBB Enterprises of Boca Raton excels at the art of the turnaround, which is why the real estate firm was scouting for new deals in the Midwest.
Flush with cash from the sale of three Palm Beach County properties during the past two years, PEBB was examining a portfolio of commercial properties for purchase when a chartered airplane carrying PEBB employees crashed Tuesday in Akron, Ohio, killing all nine people aboard.
Seven PEBB employees and the plane’s two pilots perished in the crash. Two of those killed were company principals. Only one of the employee’s death has been confirmed: Diane Smoot, director of lease administration.
PEBB is a family business whose roots in South Florida go back 40 years. It was founded by the late Paul Weiner, who named the company using the first letters of his name, his late wife, Eleanor’s name, and his two children, Barbara and Bruce.
The company builds new properties, and is in the process of constructing a Toys R Us/Babies R Us store on State Road 7 in Royal Palm Beach. It owns the Shoppes of Isla Verde in Wellington.
The firm also is known for rehabilitating old commercial sites, including the redeveloped Jupiter Reserve on Indiantown Road, which it sold in 2014.
“The entire team is very entrepreneurial, very smart,” said Jonathan Satter, a West Palm Beach real estate broker who has known the Weiner family for years. “The family knows the mission and executes it well.”
In Ohio, PEBB has started work on a 200,000-square-foot redevelopment of a property in Cincinnati it has dubbed 32 East. The company owns other shopping centers in Ohio, and also owns property in Texas, Indiana, and Missouri.
Earlier this year, principal Jared Weiner said the company was on the hunt for more distressed shopping centers in the Midwest because Florida is tapped out.
“For a group like us in Florida, the market is so hot down here that we’re opportunistic developers and we’re not finding the opportunities we want,” Jared Weiner told the Cincinnati Business Courier in January. “We’re finding those in the Midwest.”
During a 2012 interview with the Post, Weiner, son of partner Bruce Weiner, talked about his family’s close-knit business.
Several family members either work or have worked at the firm. For instance, Jared, managing principal, oversees all of PEBB’s development and growth activities, construction, re-development projects and leasing.
Jared’s brother, Ian, is a managing principal and in-house counsel. Their brother-in-law is Ari Rom, husband of their sister, Laurel. Ari Rom handles leasing and property management.
Back in 2012, Jared Weiner also said cousin Todd Rosenberg also was a principal, acting co-chief financial officer and in-house counsel. He’s no longer listed on the company’s directory, but he is listed as the founder and president of PEBB Finance, which helps arrange financing for clients.
Meanwhile, Todd’s father, Jeffrey Rosenberg, Bruce Weiner’s brother-in-law, at one point was listed as secretary-treasurer.
Several real estate brokers say Jared Weiner was emerging as leader of the company. “A sharp, personable guy,” said Tom Prakas, a Boca Raton restaurant broker who saw him periodically at Prime Cigar Bar in Boca Raton.
“He’s an extremely bright developer/investor. He’s very adept at working through complex issues,” said Scott O’Donnell, senior vice president of investment properties for CBRE in Boca Raton.
Indeed, it was through the vision of Jared and Ian that the company transformed two troubled West Palm Beach office buildings and turned them into “home runs,” said Satter, a principal with Avison Young in West Palm Beach.
In 2011, PEBB paid just under $15 million in cash for the Sabadell United Bank building and the Horizons Office Center, both on Palm Beach Lakes Boulevard. At the time, Jared Weiner was optimistic hard work would pay off.
“You’ve got to be aggressive. You’ve got to find tenants,” Weiner said in 2012. “If you put a sign on the property and wait for the phone to ring, that model doesn’t work anymore.”
Weiner was true to his word and leased up the office buildings, plus spent money on building improvements. As a result, O’Donnell was able to sell both buildings for a whopping $25.5 million within four years of the purchase.
Brian Waxman, a Palm Beach Gardens investor who bought the Horizons building in September with a partner, praised PEBB’s prowess with Horizons. Today it is 95 percent leased, up from 30 percent when PEBB bought it.
But PEBB has held on to another jewel it polished: 7900 Glades Road, a once-troubled office building that now is fully leased. The company has its headquarters there.
PEBB’s discipline and organization allowed the company to fearlessly pursue real estate deals, Satter said.
“They have a very strong vision,” Satter said. “They are not afraid to take any risk.”
Staff research editor Melanie Mena contributed to this report