By Christine Davis
With the novel coronavirus not abating, Chambers of Commerce report how they and their members are prepping for the holidays and tourist season. Here is how they are facing the challenges ahead:
Troy McLellan, CEO of the Boca Chamber, noted his staff has been back at the chamber’s office since June, following very specific protocols. “It’s working well for us,” he said.
He’s seeing that at larger organizations, a number of employees still work remotely, and some companies stagger shifts. While these methods are also utilized at smaller businesses, a number of their employees have returned to work, as well.
For tourists, “I don’t think anyone thinks we are going to have a normal season,” he said. “People are simply not going to travel at the volume they normally would. Will they travel? Yes. At the same volume as before? No.
“The smaller restaurants, retailers and hotels are doing everything they can to service the clients they get. They are not staffed like they were before, so it’s a bit of a strain on their workforce. You will see promotional campaigns and strategic advertising with an emphasis on the drive market — people comfortable driving in their own car to come here and stay and eat.”
Stephanie Immelman, president and CEO of the Greater Delray Beach Chamber of Commerce, said that her staff returned to the office in August. Many of the chamber’s committee and board meetings are conducted via Zoom, and weekly Lunch & Learn webinars, roundtables and symposiums have drawn large audiences, she said — noting that the Government Affairs First Friday Forum will remain virtual.
As for tourist season, she said that many seasonal residents never left in April and are still here. The real estate market is booming with people moving permanently from the Northeast. But tourism is still a bit slow on the uptake.
“I don’t predict the influx we usually see from Canadian and British tourists,” she said. “This is primarily because our country has not gotten a handle on COVID-19. There is a lot of pent-up demand for travel, however, and we are recommending that our tourism partners reach out to the drive market,” meaning places two to four hours from Delray Beach.
Driving business to downtown Delray in a responsible way continues to be the Downtown Development Authority’s main focus, said Laura Simon, the organization’s executive director.
“We have been working closely with all of our businesses to prepare for the holidays and beyond. Our hope is to see a trend in positive economic impact as well as provide some much-needed cheer this holiday season, and challenge residents and visitors alike to shop local in downtown Delray Beach. Be sure to check out our Holiday Gift Guides curated with fabulous finds from unique boutiques, salons, spas, art galleries, cultural centers, restaurants, hotels, professional services and more.”
For more information, visit www.DowntownDelrayBeach.com/holidays.
All businesses are following CDC recommendations related to COVID, and masks are required in all stores and where social distancing is not possible, Simon said. She added that many merchants are promoting shopping by phone and providing pickup service. New businesses in town, as well as some that have moved to new locations, include Dereal Mystical, Vicki Soble Couture and Aqua Swimwear.
David Arm, president of the Lantana Chamber, reported that his staff is still working remotely.
Its next planned event? “We don’t have one,” he said. “We are waiting to see. We would like to get back to our luncheons and happy hours, and fingers crossed on our annual Fishing Derby in May.”
Lantana’s annual Winterfest, an event put on by the town in conjunction with the chamber, will be held as a drive-thru starting at 6 p.m. Dec. 5 at Lantana Sports Park.
Will tourists come down this season? “I own Lantana Fitness, and we have already seen a few of our seasonal members coming back, but not as many as usual,” Arm said.
New restaurants, he said, include Uncle Louie G Lantana, and Fire & Ice and Los Pancho’s Tacos and Tequila Bar in Lake Worth Beach.
“I’m proud and happy to say, in our chamber, not one restaurant has gone out of business,” Arm said.
People looking for skills in an economy impacted by COVID-19 will find scholarships and accelerated training opportunities at Palm Beach State College, thanks to a Florida Department of Education $1.3 million grant. Called “Get There,” the grant enables the college to invest in new equipment and technology for programs, hire additional faculty and advisers, and provide $250,000 in scholarships.
“During the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and time of economic uncertainty, we are gratified to be able to enhance our career program offerings and focus on helping adults in Palm Beach County earn a short-term certificate or credential,” said Roger Yohe, vice president of academic affairs at PBSC.
“Our goal is to help people get a job, keep a job or be promoted in a job, and this grant will help us do just that.”
Florida Atlantic University scientist Patrick Grant, Ph.D., has designed a compact portable sanitizing device for face masks and other items that can be used at home or at work, and it has received a provisional patent from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.
The new device uses a hanging rack and UV-C light that can sterilize up to six masks and other items simultaneously and quickly, killing bacteria, yeasts, mold spores and viruses. The device has been efficient against pathogens such as E. coli, which was eradicated in about one minute.
Grant anticipates that the cost of the device will be under $100 once it hits the market.
Bowlero, a national bowling operator with 300 centers, is hoping to open a new facility next year. The company is converting the vacant Strikes bowling alley into a bowling and entertainment venue offering blacklight bowling and arcade games, along with food and cocktails.
Roxanne Register and Jon Cashion of Katz & Associates represented the landlord, with Jeff Evans and Michael Silverman of The Comras Co. representing the tenant in a deal to bring Bowlero in a long-term lease for a 62,000-square-foot space at 21046 Commercial Trail, Boca Raton.
“We’re excited to help bring Bowlero to Boca because of the high-end entertainment factor and the sport of bowling. Bowlero will bring hometown leagues together and will attract national bowling events, which will bring economic benefits to our lovely city,” Register and Cashion said in a statement. “There are also still approximately five acres available for development adjacent to the new Bowlero.”
Seaside Builders, in collaboration with Richard Jones Architecture, has demolished the building at 1177 George Bush Blvd., Delray Beach, and plans to build 1177 Moderne, an enclave of 16 luxury residences, according to Seaside Builders’ website.
This follows the $5 million purchase in July of the 27,528-square-foot, five-story office building on 1.3 acres at the site.
Amenities will include water features, a resort-style pool, a barbecue area, sitting areas with fire pits, fitness center, private storage for each owner, a dog park with a pavilion, and two covered parking spaces per unit, as well as parking for guests.
Each residence will have a private cabana and a semi-private elevator, along with three bedrooms and 31/2 baths. Model outside-corner units will consist of 2,479 total square feet. Model B interior units will have 2,438 total square feet. Model C inside corner units will have 2,946 total square feet.
Prices will start at $1.795 million. The project is slated for completion in 2021. For more information, call 561-272-9958 or email email@example.com.
Florida investor and former financial media CEO Mason Slaine sold his 11,000-square-foot Intracoastal home with multi-yacht dockage at 850 Lake Drive, Boca Raton, to Jillian Avella, trustee of the Countryside Trust Agreement, for $12,025,000. The sale was recorded on Nov. 14.
Slaine bought the property in 2016 for $11.5 million. According to Realtor.com, Senada Adzem Schweitzer, an agent with Douglas Elliman, represented both buyer and seller in the transaction.
Property records show Slaine still owns a condominium at the Ocean Residences at Boca Beach Club.
A plethora of estates valued at $10 million or more in Royal Palm Yacht & Country Club have sold since late September. They include:
• Recorded on Sept. 28, billionaire building-supplies businesswoman Maggie Hardy-Knox bought a new home at 444 East Coconut Palm Road for $15.85 million. Sellers Bernard and Maggie Palmer bought the property in 2018 for $4.6 million, tore down the existing home, and built a new 9,735-square-foot, six-bedroom waterfront home, constructed by SRD Building Corp. David W. Roberts of Royal Palm Properties represented both sides of the deal.
• Recorded on Nov. 4, Jeffrey Baskies, as trustee of 160 Key Palm Trust, sold the estate at 160 Key Palm Road for $13.936 million to Stuart R. Morris, as trustee for 160 W. Key Palm Road Land Trust. David W. Roberts represented both sides in the deal. Built in 2020, the five-bedroom home has 11,275 square feet.
• Recorded on Nov. 2, John F. and Joan Inganamort sold their seven-bedroom, 17,169-square-foot home at 378 E. Alexander Palm Road to New Jersey-based HomeBridge Financial Services CEO Peter Norden and his wife, Barbara, for $12.95 million. It was listed and sold by David W. Roberts. The Inganamorts paid $925,000 for the property in 1981 and built a home that they completed in 1997, records show.
• Recorded on Nov. 4, Adam and Samara Cohen, managing partner and co-portfolio manager, respectively, at Caspian Capital LP, purchased a home for $12 million at 151 W. Alexander Palm Road. The property, purchased through M.Y.N. Investments LLC, was originally bought by Nadav Houri in 2017. Highlights of the five-bedroom, 8,904-square-foot home include 120 feet of water frontage, a 600-bottle wine room, a putting green and rooftop viewing deck. The home was listed and sold by David W. Roberts.
• Recorded on Oct. 28, Janet Vargas, trustee of the CC Coconut Land Trust, sold a five-bedroom, 8,266-square-foot home at 239 W. Coconut Palm Road to Berenberg Bank managing partner Riehmer Hendrik for $10.6 million. CC Coconut bought the property in August 2018 for $10.2 million. According to Realtor.com, the seller was represented by Senada Adzem Schweitzer, and the buyer was represented by Miles V Brookins, EXP Realty, LLC.
The Opal Grand Oceanfront Resort & Spa is to open early next year in the former Delray Beach Marriott. ABOVE: The renovated lobby features a circular skylight, flanked by water walls, living green walls and swinging chairs. BELOW: The Spanish Mediterranean look is gone, replaced by a more contemporary American-Caribbean aesthetic.
The Delray Beach Marriott, at 10 N. Ocean Blvd., is nearly transformed into the new Opal Grand Oceanfront Resort & Spa, with scheduled completion early in 2021. Featuring an American/Caribbean laid-back aesthetic and contemporary amenities, it will have 277 large guest rooms that will include 89 suites; more than 30,000 square feet of meeting and event space; a restaurant, and a spa.
“The new Opal Grand is a signature Opal Collection property,” said Mark Walsh, of Ocean Properties Hotels & Resorts. “The renovation and rebranding will make the landmark hotel one of the best in South Florida — offering all the amenities, services and the newest technology, creating a new standard of hospitality as we welcome guests to Delray Beach. Opal Grand will set the bar for all other hotels to reach for.”
For more information or reservations, visit www.opalgrand.com or call 866-240-6316.
The Invading Sea, a Florida editorial board collaborative, secured a one-year, $50,000 grant from the Environmental Defense Fund to raise awareness about climate-change threats, with a focus on engaging the business community.
Started in May 2018 by the editorial boards of the South Florida Sun Sentinel, Miami Herald and The Palm Beach Post, with assistance from WLRN Public Media, the project has expanded to encompass 25 editorial boards, representing almost every Florida newspaper, including The Coastal Star.
Besides publishing shared editorials, the Invading Sea has published and syndicated more than 400 viewpoints from Florida politicians, academics, business leaders, neighborhood groups, activists, scientists and young people.
The media collaborative plans to produce a weekly “Voices of Business” feature as well as webinars highlighting businesspeople who want to see a plan for reducing the state’s climate risk and protecting its economy.
“We applaud how the Invading Sea has engaged the people of Florida on climate change and support its desire to better engage business leaders on the challenges coming our way,” said Dawn Shirreffs, Florida director of the Environmental Defense Fund.
The state’s real estate and tourism businesses in particular face serious challenges in the decades ahead from increased flooding, said Tom O’Hara, editor of the Invading Sea. He said that unless state leaders take steps to reduce or control flooding, insurance costs will rise, property values will fall, and banks may stop issuing 30-year mortgages.
On a positive note, climate change has generated business opportunities as governments and individuals spend money to respond to the threats. For information, contact O’Hara at firstname.lastname@example.org.
On Nov. 20, employees of Boca Raton-based Pebb Capital, a real estate and private equity investment firm, took part in an event at Pine Grove Elementary School in Delray Beach to plant pine trees and live oaks.
When the company received site approval for its Sundy Village mixed-use project from the city, Pebb Capital agreed to remove and relocate a number of trees, but they weren’t in good enough condition, said Jim Boyce, Pebb Capital’s director of development.
“So rather than relocate 35 trees, we got together with Community Greening and the city to plant about 220 trees around Delray Beach,” he said.
Some of the trees had already been planted, and on Nov. 20, 50 more were planted at the school.
The trees will go in city rights of way, public parks and at schools, as well as in some neighborhoods. “There’s a big emphasis on the need for trees in lower income neighborhoods where there isn’t a great tree canopy,” Boyce said.
“Overall benefits to planting trees include better air quality, water filtration, and soil stabilization, in addition to their aesthetic beauty and the shade they provide.”
Sundy Village, a seven-acre project at 20 W. Atlantic Ave., is under development in the area surrounding the Sundy House, and will contain dining and retail venues as well as office space.
Pebb Capital acquired the property for $40 million in October 2019, and Sundy Village, which will be developed in phases, is expected to be completed in 2024.
Send business news to Christine Davis at email@example.com.