One Flagler – To Build or Not to Build

One Flagler – To Build or Not to Build

Over the next few weeks and months, the City of West Palm Beach City Commission will be faced with a decision of whether or not to allow the building of Related Group’s One Flagler tower on the site of the Church of Christ Scientist reading room.

Over the years Related Group has done a lot for West Palm Beach, and I would agree with their statement that “One Flagler is a big, bold idea for West Palm Beach.” The proposed building will be a spectacular addition to our skyline.

I’ve sat through a few of Related Group’s presentations of One Flagler and have read countless discussions online. There are a lot of points made on both sides of the argument, and you can read the pros and cons on the One Flagler website and the PreserveWPB facebook page.

I want to address a few topics that I see misrepresented on both sides.

  1. Will One Flagler fulfill our need for Class A office space?
  2. What about the traffic?
  3. Is the financial future of West Palm Beach in jeopardy?
  4. Is this the only option for the preservation of the Church?

West Palm Beach & the Need for Class A Office Space

A good place to start is the story of my company, SMArtX Advisory Services (formerly known as HedgeCo/HedgeCoVest). The firm was started with the two founders in a single office in the Darth Vader building. When I came on board the team had grown to seven and had some beautiful space in a double loft unit on the top floor of the 101 Clematis building. This was unique space, with a view of the waterfront and the old City Library.

In 2007 we purchased the 4500 sqft space above Ultima Gym, which was our office for 10 years (and the birthplace of @aGuyonClematis) until the end of last year when we moved back to the Waterfront to a beautiful space on the 7th floor of the Citizen’s Building. We have fantastic views, modern space, and we pay $17 – $20 sqft.

The view from Citizen’s Building

Thanks to our business in the financial industry doing very well, we are looking to expand. One Clearlake at 250 South Australian has four empty floors and is leasing space at $30 – $40 sqft.

 

Northbridge Center (aka Darth Vader Building) has space for least at $30 – $35 per sqft. Now that’s not technically “Class A” but it has the added amenity of being just upstairs from the Butcher Shop, so I’m throwing it in the list of possible targets for our relocation.

CityPlace Tower has 20,000 sq/ft available at $40 – $47 per sqft.

I can’t see any scenario where we would pay the $65 – $75 for space at One Flagler.

But that’s okay. I understand that One Flagler is not really meant for growing West Palm Beach-based companies like ours. This is a world class building and is designed for corporate relocation of companies who are willing to pay Manhattan prices for West Palm Beach office space.

Class A Office Space or Fulfillment of Flagler Financial District?

One of the key points to the argument for One Flagler is the need for “Class A Office Space”. In a presentation for One Flagler the example of Mercedes Benz was given. The company was moving its USA headquarters from New Jersey and viewed West Palm Beach as a possible target for their relocation. According to the pitch, due to the lack of Class A office space, they passed on our city (but then went on to build their own 200,000 sqft building outside of Atlanta).

Understanding the target tenants for One Flagler is key to deciding whether or not One Flagler will actually fulfill our need for Class A office space. When the next “Mercedes Benz” comes to West Palm Beach looking for Class A office space, will they pick One Flagler?

I think the City and Related Group understand that this building is even too “boutique” for companies looking for “Class A” office space. They have started referring to this building as “Class A+” (seriously).

Over the years there have been many discussions as to what it would take to encourage corporate relocation. The Business Development Board founded a Hedge Fund Task Force to identify things the city would need to create to encourage corporate relocation. On this list was Class A office space and better schools.

The Flagler Financial District was launched in 2016 with the stated goal of helping attract these businesses to our downtown area.

Flagler Financial District Website

I’m going to put forward that this building is NOT being built to answer the need for general Class A office space, this building is being built to fulfill the vision of the “Flagler Financial District”. As Mayor Jeri Muoio said at the launch, “We can be the financial capital of South Florida,” and with One Flagler, we will be well on our way to fulfilling her vision.

What About the Traffic?

The people who are against this project make a big deal about the traffic that it will generate. The Related Group has done a good job at explaining that this is not a normal office building and will not have the same impact that a regular office building of its size will have.

The church and reading room currently creates almost NO traffic. So to make an argument for One Flagler, you would have to create a scenario where the historic church was knocked down and a developer built a building “by right”. In this hypothetical scenario, a developer could, by right, build a 5 story office building with 300,000 sqft of space.

The two options as displayed on the One Flagler website

A bit of searching on Google and I see that an office building expects to generate around 25 trips KSF (per 1000 sqft) of office space. Related Group uses 36 trips KSF to explain that a 300,000 sqft building could generate 11,095 trips per day, whereas One Flagler will only create 8.25 KSF trips to get them to their promised 2266 trips per day.

Because, as explained above, this is not a regular Class A office building, I accept Related Group’s explanation on the traffic impact this will have.

Office Buildings: 25 – 35 trips KSF
One Flagler: 8.25 trips KSF

Let’s extrapolate this a bit further. If there are only 8.25 trips per 1000 sqft, and everyone comes and goes once a day (people could probably walk to Cityplace for lunch), we’re talking about 4.1 people per 1000 sqft. And with 274,000 sqft we have a total of 1,123 people who work at One Flagler.

The bridge issue.

The one item that the Related Group has touted as a possible solution is changing the timing of the bridge during peak hours. Related is proposing to open the bridges every hour instead of twice an hour. In their presentation, they frame this argument as, and I’m paraphrasing, “We open the bridge every half hour to let multi-million yachts go through.”

This is a total misrepresentation of the boat traffic on the Intracostal. Yes, multi-million dollar boats need to have the bridge open to pass through, but the vast majority of the traffic through the Intracoastal that require the bridge to open are boats that probably cost as much or less than many of your cars.

I have many friends in the sailing community and know many people who make the trip from up north each year. The ability to navigate through the Intracoastal waterways via a small sailing vessel with bridges that open on a frequent schedule powers a ton of marine industry in South Florida.

Access through our waterway and the scheduling of the bridges is done in coordination between the Coast Guard and FDOT. Related Group can say what they want, but it is very presumptuous for any developer or even municipality to think that they can change this and hold up Intracoastal boat traffic to favor their plans for building.

Is the Financial Future of West Palm Beach in Jeopardy?

One of the most disturbing arguments for One Flagler was made by Western Community resident, John Mike, in Related’s full page ad in the Sunday paper.

“Our city requires growth if we are to pay for necessary services without raising property taxes, and this world class building proposal by Related Cos. would add millions to our tax base each year.”

For West Palm Beach to remain a healthy city we need to learn how to balance our budget.

Please do not accept the argument that the city is in such poor financial state that the city needs to rely on new development to “pay for necessary services”.

This is not a financial plan; it’s a Ponzi scheme.

Is this the Only Option for the Preservation of the Church?

The preservation of this church is an important part of Related Group’s One Flagler pitch. Unfortunately, it is pitched as a binary option. The two options, as described in the promotional material are: Build One Flagler, or destroy the Church.

This building has huge historical significance, and despite the alarming story Related tells to make their argument for the development of One Flagler, there is no scenario where this building is demolished. I am not just making this up.

With the parishioners of the Church of Christ Scientist quickly dwindling, cities around the country are being faced with what to do with these beautiful buildings. Guess what? They are not being destroyed, instead cities, individuals and foundations are finding creative uses for them.

Wikipedia has a list of 97 former Christian Science churches, and what they have been turned into. Other churches, temples and synagogues, public and private libraries, music halls, professional offices, retirement homes, bed and breakfasts, condos, and theaters.

These beautiful churches have huge intrinsic value, they are not knocked down.

Check out these amazing apartments built inside a Christ Scientist Church. Or the Internet Archive, which preserves an archive of the entire internet inside a preserved Christ Scientist Church. Or, my favorite, “Town Hall Seattle” which is “is used by dozens of organizations for their concerts, lectures, meetings, and performances.”

Please watch this video and be inspired about the possibilities this space has.

I for one would rather see the private or not-for-profit sector preserve and find a new use for this church as opposed to it being preserved in perpetuity as a mausoleum to a church which has no parishioners.

 

Conclusion

If you made it this far, I appreciate it. As with all big decisions like this, there are so many nuances it makes it almost impossible to get the whole picture from one source. I hope this article either helps to answer questions, or gives you questions to ask next time you’re having this discussion.

West Palm Beach has a bright future, and I am not one to say that one specific event or development project will derail the course of the future of this great City. However, the slippery slope of allowing exceptions to our City Master Plan is something that should be a concern to the City leaders as well as the citizenry.

I believe our City leaders need to take a stand regarding the development of this City. Yes, we are a growing city, but we have a master plan and there is plenty of money to be made developing within it. We should focus on the development of our city as a whole by building Class A and “Class A+” office space where it is already zoned.

Thanks for listening.

 

 

Top 9 local news stories for the week of 7/7 – 7/14

1. The Best of the Palm Beaches: The Winners You Selected

Jupiter Mag We’ve been polling Jupiter Magazine and The Palm Beacher readers since fall on everything from their favorite beaches to the best brunch spots. The tallies are in! Everyone knows Palm Beach County has a lot to offer. But now, we present the definitive guide to the best of the best.

2. Wacky Wednesday Trivia starting at the Waterfront

aGuyonClematis Calling all trivia champs… the City of West Palm Beach is inviting the public to test their knowledge and enjoy a fun-filled evening of trivia at Aesop’s Tables. Every Wednesday evening during Summer in Paradise, beginning July 12 through August 30, 2017, from 8:00 to 10:00 p.m., the City will reward those who know the most about random facts related to history, pop culture, science and more. In addition to trivia host Duane Hamilton, table hosts will also be on hand to help facilitate lively discussions, encourage participation and unite the community.

“This year’s Summer in Paradise is all about community, and we think adding Wacky Wednesday Trivia Nights will certainly bring people together,” said Mary Pinak, Community Events Manager for the City of West Palm Beach Department of Parks and Recreation. “Residents and visitors can enjoy the artwork on Aesop’s Tables while testing their range of knowledge on a variety of topics.”

3. Testa’s restaurant in Palm Beach to close after July 15

Palm Beach Daily News Testa’s Restaurant says it’s closing its doors after the evening of July 15 to make way for demolition and redevelopment of the 1.3-acre site on Royal Poinciana Way.

“We knew this day would come and it is with great sadness that we must say goodbye for now,” Tom Testa said in an email Thursday.

4. Palm Beach approves marathon running onto the island

Palm Beach Daily News Runners will be allowed to cross onto the island this winter as part of the Palm Beaches Marathon. But, they’ll get a lake view instead of an ocean view.

The Palm Beach Town Council broke from tradition Wednesday in voting 3-2 to grant a permit that allows half marathon and full marathon runners to enter the island over the Flagler Memorial Bridge, run south down the Lake Trail and leave over the Royal Park Bridge. The races are scheduled for Dec. 3.

5. Palm Beach Tech strives to connect tech entrepreneurs, start-ups

Palm Beach Post In a 1920s West Palm Beach building that boasts an adjacent carriage house with a crank elevator, Joe Russo envisions a hub for technology entrepreneurship.

Russo is the executive director of Palm Beach Tech, a non-profit that is part co-location workspace, part trade association. It was founded two years ago with the goal of bringing together tech entrepreneurs and start-ups.

6. Why is West Palm considering paying $100K to lure two new companies?

Palm Beach Post The city is considering dishing out about $100,000 to entice two unidentified firms to move in, one in aerospace/aviation, the other in life sciences.

City commission votes are scheduled for July 17 for “Project Falcon” and “Project Cell,” respectively.

7. Escape South Florida Traffic: Take the Train

Wall Street Journal features the Brightline connection between West Palm Beach and Miami.

8. Just In: Brightline hopes to woo commuters with Park-Line apartments

Palm Beach Post The residential tower rising next to Brightline’s station in downtown West Palm Beach will be part of a new real estate brand run by the private rail venture’s parent company, Florida East Coast Industries.

The Park-Line brand will offer 290 rental units at the 24-story building currently under construction just west of Brightline’s train station in West Palm Beach, officials announced Wednesday.

9. Immobility study? West Palm explores how to ease parking crunch

West Palm Beatt As a next step in West Palm Beach’s mobility study, city planners are reaching out to merchants and other downtown groups for their ideas on easing downtown parking problems.

According to the Mayor’s Office, city planners recently met to discuss availability and affordability of parking downtown. They are evaluating policy changes to manage demand, especially during events and tourist season.

Wacky Wednesday Trivia starting at the Waterfront Tomorrow

Wacky Wednesday Trivia starting at the Waterfront Tomorrow

Calling all trivia champs… the City of West Palm Beach is inviting the public to test their knowledge and enjoy a fun-filled evening of trivia at Aesop’s Tables. Every Wednesday evening during Summer in Paradise, beginning July 12 through August 30, 2017, from 8:00 to 10:00 p.m., the City will reward those who know the most about random facts related to history, pop culture, science and more. In addition to trivia host Duane Hamilton, table hosts will also be on hand to help facilitate lively discussions, encourage participation and unite the community.

“This year’s Summer in Paradise is all about community, and we think adding Wacky Wednesday Trivia Nights will certainly bring people together,” said Mary Pinak, Community Events Manager for the City of West Palm Beach Department of Parks and Recreation. “Residents and visitors can enjoy the artwork on Aesop’s Tables while testing their range of knowledge on a variety of topics.”

Prizes include Downtown WPB merchant gift certificates – $100 for the first place winner and $50 and $25 for the second and third place winner, respectively. Additional Summer in Paradise branded prizes will also be randomly given out. There will be free popcorn for participants who work up an appetite matching wits with one another and beer, wine and soda will be available for purchase.

Table hosts include:

  • July 19 – Habitat for Humanity, Amy Brand
  • July 26 – Rebecca Peterson
  • August 9 – Children Seen and Heard, Esther Joseph
  • August 16 – Rebecca Peterson
  • August 23 – Habitat for Humanity, Amy Brand
  • August 30 – Take Heed Theatre

Aesop’s Tables is a whimsical art installation of 25 painted picnic tables, with each one depicting one of Aesop’s fables. A direct tie to Mayor Jeri Muoio’s pledge declaring West Palm Beach as a City of Kindness, the storybook setting provides an opportunity for all to connect, explore local art, share their own stories and enjoy family-friendly activities on the West Palm Beach waterfront. Aesop’s Tables is presented by the City of West Palm Beach Art in Public Places and celebrates the talents of local artists. The tables feature depictions of “The Jay and the Peacock,” “Tortoise and the Hare,” “The Lion and the Mouse,” and more.

7 top stories from West Palm Beach for the week of 7/3 – 7/7

1.  The 20 best restaurants in Palm Beach County right now

Palm Beach Post: Here’s a current snapshot of Palm Beach County restaurants we’re loving best at the moment. Next month, the snapshot might be different. This list, which is organized by city, includes only restaurants we have visited.

 

2. Dining out? Restaurants in Palm Beach offer sweet summer deals

Palm Beach Daily News: Dining out on the town is a bargain these days — at least relative to high season — so if you hunger for sales, now is the time for a feast.

As restaurants seek to lure diners during the off-season and thank year-round patrons after winter residents’ exit, deals abound. They range from lunch and dinner prix-fixe menus to meal discounts, bring-your-own-wine nights, $1 oysters and more.

 

3. New West Palm brewery to include 12,000-bottle wine vault, Tuscan food

Palm Beach Post: You could argue that if every Crossfit gym converted into a craft beer brewery, there’d be a lot less pain and a lot more gain in the city, and less weight to lift, if maybe more around the hips.

We’ll get to see if that proves true, as West Palm Beach Brewery & Wine Vault, under construction downtown at 332 Evernia St., is scheduled to open Oct. 1.

 

4. Why is it so hard to develop West Palm Beach’s most visible site?

Palm Beach Post: From the world’s tallest building to a high-end medical campus, a digital animation studio and a financial tower of undulating glass topped with a spire, the site at the confluence of Okeechobee Boulevard and Dixie Highway has stirred developers’ imaginations with concepts ambitious and unusual.

 

5. What’s in PBC’s $4.5B budget?
Eye on PBC blog: Palm Beach County staff members have put their final touches on a $4.5 billion budget, which commissioners are now mulling in advance of Tuesday’s meeting, when they will set property tax rates.

 

6. See which new store just opened at CityPlace
Malled blog: Natuzzi Italia has opened a 9,000-square-foot store at CityPlace in West Palm Beach, a move that signals the shopping, dining and entertainment center continues to boost its home furnishings offerings.

 

7. West Palm Beach Bike Revolution Takes Off
City of West Palm Beach: The City of West Palm Beach will soon release a Bike Master Plan designed to make it easier for cyclists to ride from one end of town to the other, and all points in between. Many residents are already riding their bikes to work, especially those who live and work in downtown West Palm Beach.

 

Best Home in West Palm Beach Photo Contest!

Best Home in West Palm Beach Photo Contest!

Things get quiet in the summer time… so over the next few weeks we will amuse ourselves (and get to know each other a bit better) with the first ever aGuyonClematis Home Photo Contest.

There will be prizes for:

  1. Best House
  2. Most Creative Picture
  3. Best Picture

The pictures will be voted on by readers of aGuyonCleamtis

Note: If you’re a business and want to donate a prize (gift certificate, etc.) please email me!

A few simple rules:

  1. You have to have taken the picture
  2. The home has to be within the city of West Palm Beach

Email pictures to aaron@aguyonclematis.com TODAY add the subject like “PHOTO CONTEST”

You can submit pictures of mobile homes, like this one of Sandy’s beautiful little Airstream parked on the waterfront

You can submit pictures of your condos, yes those are beautiful condos on the top of the Esparante Building

You can submit pictures of your home all dressed up

Or… you can submit pictures of your home going on vacation

Note: This house is not going on vacation, it’s the Stambaugh Cottage from Palm Beach which was homeless for three years, before moving to North Carolina #TrueStory

Father’s Day Events around Downtown

Father’s Day Events around Downtown

Dad’s Day at Dorrian’s
215 Clematis St

Only at Dorrian’s does Daddy-O get free bottomless bacon and a big ole’ Bloody Mary with any brunch entree on Father’s Day… and that’s on top of our regular June brunch special of a free kids brunch with the purchase of any adults brunch entree, as well as live acoustic entertainment by Tony Silver and a kids activity corner complete with crafts, coloring and kids movies. What else does the big guys need on his special day (we’re sure he has a list…)

Father’s Day Weekend at The Butcher Shop

Friday, June 16- Sunday, June 18

Live Music All Weekend Long!

  • Friday, June 16: “Spred the Dub” 10PM-1AM
  • Saturday, June 17: DJ Rey “Chilly Willy” 9PM- 1AM
  • Sunday, June 18: Cecil Anno of “Tank Tops & Flip Flops” 1PM-4PM

Fathers Day Sunday Food & Drink Special: “Tomahawk” Bone-In Ribeye for Two with Sweet Florida Corn and Loaded Mashed Potato $99. Plus One Complimentary Draft Beer & Our Gift to Dad: $10 Gift Card (for use on the next visit.) Also featuring the Dewar’s at 12 on Father’s Day Sunday. For more information call (561) 812-2336. The Butcher Shop is located at 209 6th Street.

Father’s Day at Avocado Grill

Sunday, June 18

Fathers, get ready for incredible specials created just for you at Avocado Grill this Father’s Day! Known for smaller plates of the freshest, locally-sourced ingredients, we’ve got heartier appetites in mind for this holiday. Join us for our regular brunch and dinner menus as well as five special dishes sure to satisfy every craving. Specials will be available for both brunch and dinner. Reservations are suggested. Join us between 11 a.m. – 9:30 p.m. For more information, call (561) 623-0822. Avocado Grill is located at 125 Datura St.

Father’s Day Brunch at Pistache

On June 18th, 11am – 2:30pm,

We take a moment to thank our fathers. 3-Course Prix Fixe Menu, $65 per person, with a complimentary drink for all dads! For more information, visit www.pistachewpb.com. Pistache is located at 101 N Clematis St.

CUPCAKE EXTRAVAGANZA Father’s Day: Hooked on Dad Hand Print Painting

Uptown Art

Join us at 11 a.m. for Cupcake Extravaganza! Each registration will include one bundtlet from Nothing Bundt Cakes. This class will be held at 510 Evernia Street.

Choose your own colors. This class will last between 1 1/2 and 2 1/2 hours. Reservations are highly recommended. Once you arrive to the studio, seating is first come first serve, so please arrive early for check in. Ages 5-12 are welcome if accompanied by an adult. This will be taught on a 16 x 20 canvas. All of our classes are BYOB, so feel free to bring your favorite drinks and food! Cost is $25.

Uptown art is located at 510 Evernia Street. For more information, visit: http://www.uptownart.com/.

Celebrate Dad with Father’s Day Brunch Buffet at The Regional
651 Okeechobee Blvd
Sunday, June 18

Thank dad this year with our Father’s Day Brunch Buffet. Sunday, June 18th from 11:00-3:00. $65 per person. For more information, call (561) 557-6460. The Regional is located at 651 Okeechobee Blvd, West Palm Beach, FL 33401.

Dad’s Burger & Beer Special at Revolutions
477 S Rosemary Ave
Sunday, June 18

Dads enjoy a FREE Domestic Draft or Well Cocktail with purchase of Any Signature or Platinum Burger. 1⁄2 OFF Domestic Drafts ALL DAY. For more information, call (561) 203-6188 or visit www.westpalmbeach.revolutionsbowl.com. Revolutions Bowling. Bar. Grille. Is located at 477 S. Rosemary Ave, West Palm Beach, FL 33401.

Burger Recipe Contest

Share your Best Burger Creation! Submit your original burger recipe to marketing@frankcompanies.com. Contest runs now through 6/27. Enter to Win a $100 Gift Card! For more information, call (561) 203-6188 or visit www.westpalmbeach.revolutionsbowl.com. Revolutions Bowling. Bar. Grille. Is located at 477 S. Rosemary Ave, West Palm Beach, FL 33401.

 

Father’s Day Car Show at CityPlace

Sunday, June 18
Free

Celebrate Dad as you stroll through CityPlace and see a showcase of cars. Supercars, Hot Rods, Muscle, Race, Vintage, Exotic, Electric and more. Enjoy great shopping, dining and entertainment specials. Live music by the Sierra Band. For more information, visit www.CityPlace.com. CityPlace is located at 700 S. Rosemary Ave, West Palm Beach, FL 33401.

Father’s Day at Copper Blues

Sunday, June 18

From 2 -6 p.m. we will be grilling turkey legs and burgers outside! Free flight of beer for all fathers. At 8 p.m. enjoy live music by Erik O’Neill Duo. For more information, call 561-404-4101. Copper Blues is located at 550 Rosemary Ave, West Palm Beach, FL 33401.

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