Monday, February 25, 2013

Kolter in deal to buy Briger tract in Palm Beach Gardens

The push for this land purchase will not go unnoticed

 Below is an article from the Palm Beach Post highlighting the push to close a deal selling off Briger to Kolter Group Co. Nothing below acknowledges the long term resistance to this project such as the administrative challenge against the SFWMD's environmental resource permit,  the court challenge against the District Court of Appeals, the tree sit/forest occupation and the countless banners, signs and protests which have been held.  Kolter is a multifaceted developer investment corporation that can purchase and develop properties for the upper middle and upper class throughout Florida and other eastern states. Kolter's motive in this purchase is profit over native habitat. Don't let Kolter pave over the Briger Forest!


February 25, 2013

By Alexandra Clough

Palm Beach Post Staff Writer
The Kolter Group Co. is under contract to buy the prized Briger tract in Palm Beach Gardens, according to a Palm Beach County official and several real estate sources. The deal, although not yet complete, is a big step forward in developing a prime tract set aside for a biotech research hub, an idea that first attracted the Scripps Research Institute to Florida.

The nearly 700-acre property is across the street from Scripps Florida on Donald Ross Road in the Abacoa development and is the largest piece of undeveloped land along Interstate 95 in Palm Beach County.

If Kolter closes on the deal, it is likely to get to work quickly on development, said Peter Reed, a principal with Commercial Florida Realty Services in Boca Raton. “This will help restart the market efforts of attracting other like-minded life science companies that want to cluster around there,” Reed said.
In 2010, the Briger tract was approved for 4 million square feet of biotech space.
In addition, the property is zoned for 1.2 million in office space, 500,000 square feet of retail and a 300-room hotel. Briger also is approved for plenty of housing, including 700 apartments, 1,400 multifamily homes and 600 single-family homes. The development would amount to about 170 acres for Scripps and bio-tech spin-offs, plus 500 acres for an Abacoa-like setup of shops, offices, a hotel and homes.
The approvals were obtained in 2010, but nothing has happened on the site until now.
“We think it’s great,” Shannon LaRocque, Palm Beach County assistant administrator said of the proposed Kolter purchase. “It’s critical to get a development partner and Kolter is a good one.”
A Kolter executive declined to comment. The Lester family, which owns the Briger tract, did not return a phone call seeking comment.

But several real estate sources said the deal is in the due diligence stage and a closing could come soon.
While no one knows the purchase price, estimates of $100 million — or more — seem likely, real estate pros say. One developer said the price could be as high as $125 million to $150 million.
Reed said Kolter is a smart choice. “Kolter is a known developer who comes without any question on their ability to perform, so you want that type of horsepower,” Reed said.

Kolter built One City Plaza and Two City Place condos in downtown West Palm Beach, has built Hyatt Place hotels in West Palm Beach and Delray Beach, and is building a luxury condominium in Gulfstream. It also is set to start building a luxury high-rise in North Palm Beach. Kolter has built several multifamily communities.

Real estate experts said the Kolter purchase would change the landscape of Palm Beach Gardens.
“Wow,” said Rebel Cook of Rebel Cook Real Estate in Jupiter. “I think it’s an amazing piece and will just add more economic growth to the area,” added Cook, who also serves as president of the Economic Forum, a Palm Beach County business group.
Richard M. Rendina, chairman of The Rendina Cos. of Jupiter, agreed that the in-town land is very important.

“The Briger tract is a great piece of entitled dirt,” Rendina said.
Before Scripps and the entitlements were in place at Briger, Rendina said his father, the late Bruce Rendina, tried to buy the property from the Lester family. Bruce Rendina was instrumental in bringing Scripps to Abacoa, which he helped develop.

Rendina said his company and Abacoa would be great neighbors. Additionally, if Kolter wanted a partner to develop the commercial, medical or biotech components, “we would be interested in joining forces,” said Rendina, whose company builds medical office buildings nationwide.

Indeed, Cook said medical office space remains in demand. That will likely increase if an admistrative law judge recommends to the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration that it approve a $120 million, 80-bed teaching and research medical center on the Scripps part of the Briger property.
LaRocque said the judge’s decision, which is not binding to the agency, appears imminent.
The agency previously approved the project, but nearby hospitals, such as Jupiter Medical Center, appealed the decision, saying a new hospital is not needed.

Palm Beach County purchased 40 acres on the Briger site to allow Scripps to expand, and the Lester family donated 30 acres, LaRocque said. These 70 acres sit inside the part of the Briger parcel allocated for biotech development.

LaRocque said the teaching facility, a joint venture between Scripps and hospital giant Tenet, is not a hospital in the classic sense, but is an academic medical center for teaching and drug discovery, in collaboration with Scripps and Florida Atlantic University. The hospital, now known as the Florida Regional Medical Center, would feature 80 beds and collaborate with FAU’s new medical school.

Plans are afoot to redo the old Home Depot Expo building in Boynton Beach.
Retail broker Dan Lynch, of Atlantic Retail Properties, said the property’s new buyer is considering subdividing the 90,000 square foot space into two or three spaces. The property was sold to Boynton Expo Investors LLC for $5.1 million by Home Depot last year.
Lynch said he’s talking to a number of “junior” anchors that would be complementary to the Home Depot next door.
Making the space more attractive are plans to raise elevations on the back of the building so it is more visible from Interstate 95, Lynch said.
Alexandra Clough writes about the economy, real estate and the law. Contact her at

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Eagle Training Center Landbroker pleads Guilty to 6 counts of Fraud

In 2009, PBCEC and Everglades Earth First! helped in the victory against the Eagle Creek Military training center in Highlands County. Just recently, Greg Eagle, the person who spearheaded the training center was found to have committed a $19million loan scandal leading in a class action lawsuit against him and his pleading of guilty to 6 counts of Fraud. Read below from WINK for more details:

FORT MYERS, Fla. - Cape Coral realtor Greg Eagle has pleaded guilty to six federal counts of fraud after authorities say he forged documents and cost his investors millions of dollars. Each of the six charges carries a maximum of thirty years in federal prison.

This story begins more than twenty years ago and includes bad financial bets, falsified documents and millions of dollars that were lost.

In June of 1990, 52 investors bought a 101 acre property along Pine Island Road in Cape Coral for nearly $3 million. It was called the Pine Island 101 Land Trust.

Attorney Mark Trank is representing the 52 investors in a separate class-action lawsuit.

"It is good news, we've been waiting for this news for quite a long time," Trank said.

"This was a scheme that (Eagle) engaged in and as result the 50 plus investors in the Pine Island Trust have lost their investment and in many cases people have lost their life savings," said Trank.

In November of 2011, WINK News first introduced you to Dr. Charles Curtis, one of the investors.

"I'm sure it's affecting a lot of people and we would like to know how something like this can happen."

Curtis and other investors came together to buy the land, as they could buy more as a group than individually. Greg Eagle was put in charge of the land trust.

The investors were expecting a big payday when they would eventually sell the land. But that payday never came.

According to his plea deal in federal court, Eagle forged the documents on the trust to take out a $17 million mortgage in order to fund another project. He thought it was a can't-lost deal that would bring a homeland security training facility to Florida. But he did lose. The project fell through and Eagle never paid the loan.

The bank that issued the loan, First National Bank of Pennsylvania, filed for foreclosure on the property.

Curtis and other investors received a letter in the spring of 2011 from Eagle, saying "there is no excuse for what I have done with mortgaging the property for $17 million."

Eagle has also agreed to forfeit all his assets immediately and pay his 52 victims restitution. Though it's not clear how much they'll get, as Eagle lost nearly $40 million when the Homeland Security project fell through.

Meanwhile, Trank expects the class-action lawsuit to go to trial this year. He hopes his investors will at least be able to hold onto the property, which is worth millions.