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BOCA RATON — South Florida just saw its biggest office deal of the year with a huge investment into an office campus in Boca Raton — a gem of land that could be transformed into a destination with 1,000 new residences, as well as stores, restaurants and a hotel.
The $320 million agreement, finalized just few days ago, highlights how the Boca Raton Innovation Campus, where IBM developers long ago invented the personal computer, has stood out in value and for its redevelopment potential.
“The sum is a staggering amount,” said Boca Raton City Councilman Andy Thomson. “It shows that the property in Boca is very, very valuable.”
DRA Advisors, of New York, entered into a special warranty deed for the Boca Raton Innovation Campus, also known as BRIC, investing $320 million, according to Palm Beach County Court records. The 123-acre site is owned by Boca Raton-based CP Group and situated just west of Interstate 95 between Yamato Road and Spanish River Boulevard.
Online property sales tracker The Real Deal, which first reported on the agreement, noted DRA Advisors is becoming a new partner. CP Group recently pitched a new proposal to Boca Raton city officials to turn the site into a destination that offers 1,000 residences, as well as restaurants, stores and a hotel.
Angelo Bianco, managing partner of CP Group, said it’s “way too premature” to say what kind of housing will be a fit for the site. It will depend on what the City Council wants and what the market demands, he told the South Florida Sun Sentinel on Tuesday.
He said the addition of DRA Advisors is a recapitalization of the deed, not a sale of the property. DRA Advisors would be joining as an investor and CP Group would remain as a manager and operator of the site, Bianco said. He analogized it to a train ride: “The train came into the station, some passengers got off, some new ones got on, but the destination is the same.”
A representative for DRA Advisors couldn’t be reached for comment this week.
Tere Blanca, founder and CEO of Blanca Commercial Real Estate, said this style of development is becoming increasingly popular across South Florida, comparing it to that of FAT Village, near the Brightline station in Fort Lauderdale. FAT Village, which used to be comprised of warehouses, has been transformed into a multi-use arts district with a high-rise apartment, hotel, garage and ground-floor restaurants and retail space.
“It’s not unusual for companies like CP Group to seek and procure recapitalization of their assets and staying active as an owner/operator,” Blanca said.
Christina Jolley, vice president and director of business development at Blanca’s firm, likened it to anyone eager to make improvements in their home. “Just like you would redo your kitchen to make the experience in your home better, these office owners are all going to make the experience at the office that much better by providing beautiful outdoor areas and restaurants and other amenities,” Jolley said.
Thomson, the city councilman, called the Boca Raton Innovation Campus a one-of-a-kind piece of land that has many distinctions.
“It’s historic. It’s huge. It’s centrally located next to a couple I-95 interchanges, and it has huge potential,” he said. “Generally speaking, Boca’s a good place to be.”
Now, the campus leases office space to about 35 tenants, including tech and medical companies, grocery chains, insurance companies and consulting firms.
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City officials recently raised questions and concerns about the proposed redevelopment, including increased traffic and the addition of residential units on a commercial site. If the city were to approve the plan proposed by CP Group, it would bring:
- 1.7 million square feet for offices — which includes the existing space.
- 50,000 square feet for restaurants.
- 76,000 square feet for general commercial use.
- A 40,000-square-foot grocery store.
- 60,000 square feet for medical offices.
- A 2,100-seat civic center.
- A 130-room hotel.
“As far as I know, they’re continuing to seek that kind of redevelopment opportunity,” Thomson said. “The city had an appetite for that. … So I believe that that will continue with [DRA Advisors].”
The developers will bring more details to the city over the coming months in an effort to ease the concerns raised by City Council.
Correction: An earlier version of this news article misstated the terms of a business agreement for the Boca Raton Innovation Campus. DRA Advisors, of New York, entered into a special warranty deed for the property and is joining as an investor, with CP Group remaining as a manager and operator of the site, according to Angelo Bianco, managing partner of CP Group.