Alba breaks ground in West Palm Beach
West Palm Beach’s renaissance continues, with developers eyeing the city for high-end properties. Savanna Fund is readying Olara, a 275-unit residences with prices starting at $2 million. And Related has four residential projects underway in the city, including 575 Rosemary, a 21-story mixed-use development slated for completion in 2024.
The latest arrival is Alba Palm Beach, which had its groundbreaking on August 10. Designed by WPB firm Spina O’Rourke + Partners for BGI Companies and Blue Road Group, Alba will offer a total of 55 residences on North Flagler Drive, including four two- and three-story townhomes with plunge pools and unobstructed views of the Intracoastal Waterway. Residents will have access to 25,000 square feet of top-of-the-line amenities, as well as a one-year complimentary membership to the Palm Beach Yacht Club.
“Our vision for this rare piece of land began years ago,” Alba principal developer Kenneth Baboun said in a statement. “And we believe it was the catalyst for the neighborhood’s healthy condo market we see today.”
Pricing at the Alba begins at $3 million, with penthouses going for $25 million.
Apartment conversions boom on the horizon
The trend in apartment conversions is still going strong, though the market has seen a slight dip: According to data from RentCafe’s parent company, Yardi Matrix, 10,090 apartments were flipped from other uses in 2022, down from 11,422 in 2021. Completed projects declined, but the number in the pipeline keeps growing: Some 122,000 converted units have been announced, with 45,000, or 37%, being adapted from former office buildings. The remainder are mostly from hotels (23%) and factories (14%).
Architect Steven Paynter, who analyzes the adaptive reuse sector, said the pandemic slowed down completion on many projects. “I believe there will be a huge boom in the next year and the year after, in terms of project starts, and from 2024 to 2027 in terms of project completions,” Paynter told RentCafe.
The top city for conversions is New York, with 2,609 apartments on the way, according to the report. One of the largest is 25 Water Street, the former offices of the Daily News and JPMorgan Chase, which is being converted into 1,300 apartments. Dallas landed in the top five with 1,500 apartment conversions. This summer, Pacific Elm Properties completed the transformation of a dozen floors in the Santander Tower in downtown Dallas into 228 one- and two-bedroom rentals. The development, called Peridot, also includes a swimming pool, two restaurants, and a private club on the 48th floor.
The adaptive-reuse trend is also good news for the environment: According to a study published by the National Bureau of Economic Research, flipping old buildings could decrease greenhouse gas emissions by 80% in 2050.
Patrice Frey, former sustainability director for the National Historic Preservation Fund, told NPR that conceiving of buildings as having more than one life “has to be integrated into everything we construct into the future.”
“Because we’ve got to be designing for centuries, not for decades,” Frey added.