Article Courtesy of The Palm Beach Post
By Mike Diamond
Published July 7, 2019
How hot is the
residential real estate market in parts of
western Palm Beach County?
Hot enough that builders are seeking zoning
changes to permit them to abandon already
approved commercial projects and convert
them into high-density residential
developments with limited commercial parts.
Jesse Saginor, a Florida Atlantic
University professor who monitors real estate trends in
South Florida, said the shift shows that builders can get a
greater return on their investment by going residential.
There is not much of a wait to find buyers, regardless of
the price point, for new homes in Palm Beach County, he
The latest example involves the vacant northwest corner of
Hypoluxo and Lyons roads in suburban Lake Worth. It may soon
be the site of Windsor Place, a 393-unit development that
calls for 157 townhomes, 236 rental units and 30,192 square
feet of commercial space, including a grocery store and a
In 2005, previous owners obtained approval for 115,078
square feet of commercial space that included a
41,000-square-foot anchor store along with 184 townhouses.
The new proposal seeks to more than double the number of
residential units and represents a significant decrease in
the amount of commercial space.
The parcel is one of the last remaining, sizeable,
undeveloped tracts west of Lake Worth Beach.
The future site of Windsor Place at Hypoluxo and
The development company behind the project is Hatzlacha
WP Holdings, founded by Charles M. Scardina, once a senior vice president of
Ansca Homes. Scardina was involved in a lengthy legal battle with his former
partners, which settled in late 2017. Shortly after that, he bought the
40-acre parcel for $15.2 million.
But Scardina now says in a report filed with the county that the initial
plan will result in “an improper use of the site” as there is too much other
commercial development in the area. The report noted the changes were
necessary because the original project “too closely mirrored” the adjacent
Town Commons shopping center on the east side of Lyons Road.
Earlier this year, another company owned by Scardina made similar arguments
for his Terra Nova project at Hagen Ranch Road and Atlantic Avenue west of
Scardina’s Principal Development Group proposed a change from a mostly
commercial project to one with 275 rental units and a drive-through
restaurant. A group of area homeowner associations banded together to create
the Common Sense Development Coalition to fight the plan on the grounds that
the residential density is too intense. Scardina is working with coalition
members to see if he can address their concerns.
And recently, another commercially approved project at Jog Road and Boynton
Beach Boulevard is undergoing a change as the new owners seek permission to
build an assisted living facility, which will reduce land devoted to
commercial uses by 4 acres.
Residential builder Alex Akel said there is little land left in Palm Beach
County to build homes. He said it is possible that residential builders may
even buy up existing shopping centers and convert them into project that
would include housing.
Much has been written about how the tax law changes have fueled a
luxury-home boom in South Florida but Saginor said the impact has been felt
across all price points. Saginor of FAU said there is just as much a demand
for homes between $300,000 and $800,000 as there are for luxury homes.
Additionally, with the rise of online shopping, brick and mortar stores are
in decline. Strip center stalwarts Toys R Us and Sports Authority are gone.
Booksellers, video stores and record shops are nearly extinct. Macy’s,
Sears, JCPenney and Office Depot are shrinking.
Windsor: rentals and grocery
Meanwhile, it is not clear whether Scardina will face the kind of fierce
opposition for Windsor Place that he faces at Terra Nova west of Delray
Beach. Plans call for Windsor Place to abut the 1,100-plus unit development
at Bellagaio, which is northwest of the proposed development. The project
calls for apartments in seven three-story buildings with each building
containing 32 or 34 units.
A 4-acre lake separates the two developments. Access will be from both Lyons
and Hypoluxo roads. The grocery store will be at the intersection. According
to the builder’s traffic study, the development will generate an additional
3,738 trips a day on the already heavily congested Hypoluxo-Lyons road
Pam Rothman, president of the Bellagio Homeowners Association, said Bellagio
and other area HOAs are in active discussions with the developer. She
declined further comment.
Repeated efforts to obtain comment from Scardina and his consultants were
unsuccessful. Scardina asked the county Planning Division on June 18 for
more time to submit detailed plans as he seeks the support of Bellagio and
other nearby developments — Valencia Shores, Savannah Estates and Villagio.
The zoning changes would result in:
A significant increase in housing density.
New zoning classifications for both residential and
commercial parts of the development.
Elimination of 59 guest parking spaces for the rental
If approved, the builder expects Windsor Place to be
completed in 2023.