Florida Crystals, a Newcomer to Multifamily Development, is Sweet on Delray Deal

The swift growth in demand for multifamily living in recent years has spurred many experienced multifamily developers to announce plans to develop new projects. That same demand is now tempting would-be housing developers whose renown was built outside the multifamily industry.

Delray Beach, Fla.—The swift growth in demand for multifamily living in recent years has spurred many experienced multifamily developers to announce plans to develop new projects. That same demand is now tempting would-be housing developers whose renown was built outside the multifamily industry.

One prime example is the recent announcement by Florida Crystals, a long-established West Palm Beach-based sugar producer, of its intention to begin multifamily development. The company, which has not before developed housing, recently purchased for nearly $10 million a 33.1-acre site in western Delray Beach.

Its plans are to build apartment homes east of the Florida Turnpike and north of Atlantic Ave. in the upscale Florida community.

The site is in an area distinguished by gated communities, golf course country clubs and high-end resorts. It is also conveniently located to the well-heeled community of Boca Raton, the oceanfront enclave of Boynton Beach and the many other municipalities that make up Florida’s Gold Coast.

Troy Ballard, lead broker for Atlanta-based ARA’s newly-established South Florida Land Division in Boca Raton, reports Florida Crystals plans to construct almost 400 multifamily units on the land, formerly owned by Atlantic Associates, an affiliate of Sunrise, Fla.-based GL Homes. The community is expected to be built in two phases, and will be called Atlantic Commons.

This apartment development is likely to be the first of a number of South Florida projects for Florida Crystals. Pepe Fanjul Jr., vice president of Florida Crystals’ parent Fanjul Corp., and member of the Fanjul family that began producing sugar in Cuba more than 150 years ago, has said his company plans to develop multifamily properties as a way to fully participate in the Sunshine State’s growth. It is also looking to invest in commercial and industrial property nationwide.

Adding to the appeal of the Atlantic Commons site is its location less than a mile from Delray Marketplace, a lifestyle shopping center scheduled to celebrate its grand opening March 22 and 23.

The 258,000-square-foot shopping center, whose construction commenced in late 2011, is anchored by a Publix supermarket. In addition, it will feature a Frank Theatres CineBowl and Grill, Burt & Max’s Grille, Chico’s, Jos. A. Bank, Charming Charlie, Republic of Couture and White House|Black Market, among other retail and dining options.

The Florida Crystals purchase is the second closing in two months for ARA’s South Florida Land Division. It comes on the heels of the sale of a 2.42-acre Midtown Plantation property earmarked for development of 227 housing units.