By Jane Smith
The stalled Atlantic Crossing project sold in mid-June to partner Edwards Cos., of Ohio, for $38.5 million.
The nearly 9-acre property, which sits at the prominent corner of Federal Highway and Atlantic Avenue in downtown Delray Beach, was sold in two transactions by a partnership controlled by Carl DeSantis, a real estate investor.
“We are making this additional investment because this is a unique site. Redeveloping two city blocks is a rare opportunity to create a distinctly Delray environment that will benefit the entire community,” said Edwards Cos. President Jeff Edwards. “We’re committed for the long term and are eager to get underway.”
The eastern side, which houses the aging 78,768-square-foot Atlantic Plaza retail/office complex, sold for $22.7 million.
Through a partnership, DeSantis, of Delray Beach, lent $16.5 million to Edwards that under the terms of the agreement can increase to $33 million. The four Edwards executives personally guaranteed the loan.
The mostly vacant western side sold for $15.8 million. Edwards was able to secure a $16 million loan from First Financial Bank of Hamilton, Ohio.
“As I grow older, I have realized that there is still much I want to accomplish, but only a finite amount of time in which to do so,” DeSantis said in a prepared statement. “We have decided to sell Atlantic Crossing to the Edwards Cos., so that we can focus on these opportunities and new ones that we are vetting on a weekly basis.”
The statement also said that although DeSantis is an active real estate investor, he is not a developer and “certainly not of large projects that take many years to complete. It’s simply not our forte.”
The sale translates to more than $4 million per acre, which real estate consultant Jack McCabe said was the going rate for vacant land in downtown Delray Beach.
“Delray’s won the All America City title twice — that’s very prestigious,” McCabe said. “Some of the old-timers are worried about the traffic, but the area is ripe for redevelopment.”
The sale is subject to the outcome of a $25 million lawsuit, originally filed by the developers in Palm Beach County Circuit Court and now in federal court with an October jury trial date. The complaint has been amended four times.
The developers sued the city in June 2015 claiming Delray Beach has not certified its site plan that was approved in November 2013 and affirmed by a previous City Commission in January 2014.
The court recently granted the developers approval to depose 16 individuals, exceeding the limit by six. Mayor Cary Glickstein will be deposed, although Commissioners Shelly Petrolia and Mitch Katz will not.
The city filed a counterclaim on June 24, requesting the release from escrow of two alleys and parts of Northeast Seventh Avenue.
When finished, Atlantic Crossing will contain 343 luxury condos and apartments plus 39,394 square feet of restaurants, 37,642 square feet of shops and 83,462 square feet of office space.
By Jane Smith