The site at 705 Lake Avenue, the one that housed Hoffman’s Chocolates for four years , recently got a major upgrade.
“This space has been rebuilt,” said one of the owners, who declined to give her name. “It has everything.”
The owners went north of $200,000 adding new floors, windows, doors, plumbing and air conditioning. The project took about six months.
“It was gutted,” she said. “You name it, we built it.”
But the 2,400-square-foot site, owned by Cimaglia Holdings in Fort Lauderdale, remains empty since Hoffman’s closed in December.
The owner said she shows the site often, but nothing has clicked, mostly because people who looked didn’t have enough money for a deal.
“Our group has some of the lowest rents in town at $12 to $17 per square foot,” the owner said. “But that’s not always the issue.”
What’s the other one?
“Often times the challenge is working with the city,” she said. “The building next to us (Suri Tapas Bar) wanted to push their doors back and put cafe stuff out for eating. They were allowed to do that, then the city changed their mind. You can’t do that.”
The owner called Lake Worth the “gem” of Palm Beach County, saying it hasn’t been overbuilt like Delray Beach or Boca Raton.
“It’s the last little town,” she said. “It’s really sweet and has a lot of potential.”
The owner is asked what kind of tenant she wants to see at the site.
“When you quit The Palm Beach Post, do you want to go into business?” the owner said, laughing.
Then, seriously, she added that most people who hang downtown in Lake Worth, West Palm Beach and Delray Beach, do it to eat.
“That’s a possibility for us,” she said. “We just want somebody of integrity. I have to leave it to perspective tenants to see what they want to do that’s good for the town and good for themselves.”
Someone was flying in from New York this week to check out the spot. The owner said the guy is adamant about leaving The Big Apple and opening a business in Florida.
Vacant downtown sites isn’t a new issue in Lake Worth as there are several downtown.
“There are too many vacant buildings and too many businesses leaving,” Dawn Malega, owner of The Zoo Gym on Lake Avenue said. “Financially it’s hard to make it downtown because we go through seasons and if you don’t financially prepare for that it can be a rough summer.”
But there is good news.
The Book Cellar is scheduled to open later this month at 801 Lake Avenue.
The owners signed a 3-year lease and will sell classic books, modern literature and children’s books. They’ll even be a kids section for young people to hang out.
That’s the kind of news the owner of 705 Lake Avenue is waiting for.
“Many people are interested in this site,” she said. “I get calls every day.”
Now it’s time for a signed lease.