Palm Beach Is Getting Crowded
And That’s Good For Business

Allen Aldridge

Palm Beach is making room for more residents and businesses. The U.S. Census Bureau revealed that the county was home to 1.44 million people as of mid-2016; The University of Florida’s Bureau of Economic and Business Research says that the population will reach 1.5 million sometime after 2020.

Some forecasts are even more aggressive. The Palm Beaches and Treasure Coast could see a 25 percent to 35 percent increase in population in the next decade, according to Dr. Jerry Parrish, the chief economist at the Florida Chamber Foundation.

The Palm Beaches and Treasure Coast could see a 25 percent to 35 percent increase in population in the next decade

As a result, Palm Beach County may no longer be trailing behind Miami-Dade County and Greater Fort Lauderdale when it comes to commercial real estate — and developers are taking notice.

“The medical center has replaced the golf course as the anchor amenity,” Parrish said. “That’s great because people can tell their kids and grandkids I’m fine. I’m a golf cart ride away from a medical center in case I need something.” He added that a quarter million jobs would need to be filled.

What a difference a decade makes. During the Great Recession, Palm Beach County lost residents, as did the state of Florida in general. In fact, it was the first time the state’s population went into a reversal since the 1940s.

Palm Beach and Broward counties’ office markets reported growing rents and declining vacancies in the first quarter of 2018, while the office market in Miami-Dade showed marginally higher vacancies. Overall rents rose slightly in Palm Beach County – up 1.5 percent to $31.57 per square foot from $31.07 per square foot a year ago. The vacancy rate also fell to 14.7 percent from 15.6 percent. In downtown West Palm Beach, Class A trophy buildings are now more than 95 percent occupied.

Another spark for increasing population: escape from the high-tax states, like New York and California. Due to the new tax laws, residents of those states can no longer deduct state and local income taxes from their federal taxes, which makes Florida look even more attractive than it already is.

“We’re starting to see interest again from a lot of out-of-state buyers,” Jeffrey Levine, president-elect of the Realtors of the Palm Beaches and Greater Fort Lauderdale and a broker in West Palm Beach told The Palm Beach Post. “Florida becomes very attractive with the new tax laws.”

KBS owns two properties in Palm Beach:

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Emerald View at Vista Center
   2054 & 2056 Vista Parkway

This two-building, 139,471-square-foot office center is located in West Palm Beach and located adjacent to the Emerald Dunes Golf Club. It’s situated within Vista Center, a 500-acre master-planned business park which is a mixed-use development of office, flex and industrial buildings. Developed in 2007, it’s the only suburban property in the market built to exceed hurricane code requirements. It offers 100 percent back-up power for 25 days of “business as usual” continuous operation.

The property is located off Florida’s Turnpike, which is a widely used toll road in the West Palm Beach central business district. Access to the property is also available from Jog Road, which is a major north/south thoroughfare that parallels the Turnpike to the west. Interstate 95, the West Palm Beach CBD and the West Palm Beach International Airport are all in close proximity to the property.

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The Financial Center at the Gardens
   3801 PGA Boulevard

This ten-story Class A office property features a soaring atrium, beautifully renovated lobbies and common areas, 100 percent structured parking, manned security and a new cafe and wine lounge. It’s home to some of the area’s most prestigious tenants, including Morgan Stanley, UBS, Bankrate, and JP Morgan Chase. The property is located within walking distance to numerous amenities at Downtown at the Gardens, a high-end shopping and dining destination. Also nearby: The Gardens Mall, a regionally renowned shopping experience.


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Allen Aldridge is a senior vice president for KBS, overseeing 3.5 million square feet of office space in the southwest region of the United States.