The Ocean City Lumber Co. property in Delray Beach, with its distinctive water tower and historical train depot, owed much of its preservation to Janet and Tim Onnen, who sold it in August. The original lumber company’s history dates to 1920. Photo provided
By Christine Davis
The distinctive water tower in downtown Delray Beach marks the charming Ocean City Lumber Co. property, which sold for $30 million in a deal recorded on Aug. 8.
Owned and developed by Janet and Tim Onnen, the 48,474-square-foot mixed-use complex was sold to Delray Trio LLC and is managed by Nader Ohebshalom, Babak Ebrahmizadeh and a trust in the name of Isaac S. Ohebshalom, all executives at Gatsby FL.
Representing both sides were Laura Allen and Cecelia Boone, of Southdale Properties Inc.’s commercial division, who brokered the off-market property on behalf of the Onnens. The 2.5-acre site is on the south side of Northeast First Street, from Railroad Avenue to Northeast Second Avenue.
For the Onnens, Ocean City Lumber Co. has been part of their lives since the 1980s. For Delray Beach, it has a history that spans from 1920.
Janet and Tim moved to Florida from Iowa to operate her father’s business, Meisner Electric, in 1983. Soon after, the Onnens decided to move the Meisner offices closer to the center of town.
They started by buying two properties — one where the old Sundy Feed Store used to be, and a window and screen repair shop, which was once part of the Ocean City Lumber Co.’s operation. Then the couple added the lumberyard to their portfolio when the owner defaulted and it went to auction in 1992.
A history buff who was involved with the Delray Beach Historical Society, Janet Onnen became intrigued with the stories of Ocean City Lumber Co.
“I kept its name, because it had historical significance to me,” she said. One bit of folklore that she had heard about: “It was considered a decent place for a husband to hang out, rather than the brothels and bars Delray had at the time,” she said.
Another tidbit she shared: “I found in the old records that the lumberyard was essentially a bank in the early days. When people wanted to build their home or business, the lumber company would lend them the money. The lumberyard was where they could go to make their American dream happen. It financed Delray in the early days for regular people.”
And that makes sense, in a way. In 1920, the lumberyard was started by three partners, Fred Benson, a local bank chairman, J.C. Keen, who ran the company, and attorney C.Y. Byrd.
In 1993, the Onnens added the final parcel of land, an FPL property, and then they replatted their properties.
“We redeveloped it using the same building footprint mostly, with architect George Brewer, between 1993 and 1996,” Janet Onnen said. “With Tim and I in construction, George being a young fun-loving architect, and our great construction team, it was a great project, and by 1996, we started leasing out space. At one time, a water tower was on the lumberyard property, and that’s how we came to build the water tower.”
They added a dilapidated 1896-era Florida East Coast railway station that had been moved west to Sims Road but was originally located across the FEC tracks diagonally from its current location. The railway station is owned by the Delray Beach Historical Society.
After years of involvement with the property and many memories — including sheltering friends and employees at their site during hurricanes — the Onnens are moving on to the next phase of their lives.
“I’m divesting of my responsibilities. I want to do some traveling and sit back and watch the world go by,” she said, adding that her husband is looking forward to that plan, too. “It’s a great location with great tenants and I hope that everything works out for both the tenants and the new buyers.”
Current tenants include the Bru’s Room, PurLife Fitness Center, Ramen Lab, Bond Street Salon, and Coco Sushi Lounge and Bar.
Related Group, a Coconut Grove real estate company headed by Jorge Pérez and Jon Paul Pérez, paid $48 million for an apartment complex that is restricted to low-income senior residents, according to public records dated July 22.
The Boynton Bay community, on the southwest corner of Northeast Fourth Street and Northeast 20th Avenue in Boynton Beach, was bought from Boynton Bay Ltd., an affiliate of Delray Beach-based affordable senior housing developer Auburn Communities, managed by Brian Hinners.
KeyBank provided a mortgage in the same amount as the purchase price.
Related Group also signed an agreement with the Florida Housing Finance Corp., a state Legislature-created authority that in part oversees various financing options for affordable housing. The 240-unit Boynton Bay complex was constructed in 1991 on 21.4 acres. It last traded in 2009 for $21.1 million. Related Group’s Related Urban Development Group focuses on building affordable housing.
The Delray Beach Housing Authority and AffordableHousing.com conducted their annual children’s backpack giveaway on Aug. 4, inside the Delray Beach Housing Authority. Six hundred backpacks with school supplies were given away.
“We are so glad to have the support of AffordableHousing.com every year. And this year certainly is going to be one of the most important years for kids of all ages to get back to school and back into a routine,” said Charmaine Jackson, executive assistant at the Delray Beach Housing Authority.
Airbnb shared findings from the North American Digital Nomad Index that Delray Beach has been named a top-earning destination for hosts with long-term stays. Demonstrating a pandemic-era trend, the report also found that 1 in 5 guests used Airbnb to work remotely while traveling in 2021, and that hosts in the U.S. earned a combined total of $2 billion from long-term stays alone. The report comes just months after Airbnb co-founder and CEO Brian Chesky told the company’s employees that they could work from anywhere.
The Arthur and Emalie Gutterman Family Center for Holocaust and Human Rights Education at Florida Atlantic University recently announced the Gutterman Family Outstanding Holocaust Educator Awards for 2022.
The awards recognize educators who have exemplified through their teaching a positive impact on their schools and the wider community in the field of Holocaust, genocide and human rights education.
Among those recipients was Boca Raton High School teacher Maureen Carter, a resident of Boynton Beach, who has been involved in Holocaust education for more than 25 years. The Gutterman Center will recognize her and two other educators on Nov. 7 at the annual awards dinner honoring outstanding Holocaust educators. The awards enable recipients to participate in an educator field study at Holocaust sites in Poland and Israel. The field study trip should occur in early summer 2023.
Todd Jackson, president of Fox Public Insurance Adjusters Inc., received the Recognition Award from the Boynton Beach Professionals. The award is the result of a review process and is voted on by the management team of the Boynton Beach Professionals leads group. Awards are presented on an every-other-month basis.
John Campanola, chairman of the group, said: “This award was created to honor the member who has done the most for the group and the Boynton Beach community. Todd has been tirelessly working to promote the group and all of its members. He is an ardent networker throughout Palm Beach County and especially Boynton Beach.”
For information on the Boynton Beach Professionals leads group, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Flavor Palm Beach is back throughout September, with more than 60 of Palm Beach County’s bistros, diners and restaurants added to its list. It also has a new CEO, Kerri Paizzi, a 20-year restaurant and marketing professional who has helped launch a new mobile app for Flavor.
At select eateries from Tequesta to Boca Raton, customers can enjoy prix fixe menus for three-course meals for lunch and dinner, with prices ranging from $35 to $65. This year’s most renowned celebrity chef is Michelin Star and James Beard Foundation Award winner Daniel Boulud, who owns Café Boulud in Palm Beach.
To participate in Flavor Palm Beach, simply make a reservation, visit the restaurant and enjoy the menu. For more information, visit flavorpb.com.
Boca magazine was named the Magazine of the Year and Best Overall Magazine at the 2022 Florida Magazine Association’s Charlie awards on Aug. 5, in Ponte Vedra Beach.
Boca magazine, produced by JES Media since 1981, also won top awards in several categories, including Best Overall Writing; First Place, In-Depth Reporting; Best Custom Publication, and Best Advertising for a Client.
Boca magazine received silver awards for Best Feature and the “Women in Business” advertising section. Finally, it received a bronze award for Worth Avenue in Best Custom Publication.
The Boca Raton Historical Society and the Schmidt Boca Raton History Museum are seeking nominations for this year’s Walk of Recognition. The honor serves as a permanent memorial to individuals and local institutions whose public service has helped build the city and enriched the lives of residents.
The Walk of Recognition is located in Mizner Plaza at Royal Palm Place. A ceremony and reception for honorees will begin at 6 p.m. Nov. 29 at the Addison, 2 E. Camino Real in Boca Raton. Tickets are $85 per person.
For tickets or more details, call 561-395-6766, ext. 106 or see www.bocahistory.org.
On Sept. 24, the Boynton Beach-based nonprofit Feeding South Florida, a hunger-relief organization, will host its annual Outrun Hunger 5K in celebration of Hunger Action Month. It will take place at Okeeheelee Park, 7715 Forest Hill Blvd., West Palm Beach. Cost to participate starts at $20. To register visit www.feedingsouthflorida.org/outrunhungerpbc.
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