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Related Group Gets Approval for 360 Rentals in Lantana (Update)

Apartments Would Help Jump-Start Stalled Water Tower Commons
January 31, 2018

The Related Group of Miami expects to start construction on 360 apartments at Water Tower Commons in July.
Courtesy of The Related Group

The long-stalled Water Tower Commons in Lantana, FL finally appears to be moving forward after the town council approved a plan for The Related Group of Miami to build 360 apartments at the mixed-used development whose delays have frustrated elected officials, business owners and residents.

Council members in the small central Palm Beach County community voted 4-1, with Mayor Dave Stewart dissenting, to allow 14 three-story buildings at the 73-acre project just east of Interstate 95 at 1199 Lantana Road.

Master developer Lantana Development, an entity tied to homebuilder Ken Endelson of Boca Raton, FL, is planning 200,000 square feet of commercial space and up to 1,100 residential units at the former site of a state-run tuberculosis hospital.

"Related is a quality developer, and they are bringing new energy to the project," Mike Langolf, project manager for Lantana Development, told CoStar News.

The developer originally announced that the first phase of Water Tower Commons would be ready by the end of 2017, but construction hasn't yet started. Officials say the project has stalled due to challenges in retail leasing, though Related says it expects to break ground in July and finish construction within 18 months. Monthly rents have not yet been announced.

"Honestly, we think it's a no-brainer," said Max Cruz, Related's development manager for Water Tower Commons.

Related, led by Jorge Perez, is one of the largest multifamily builders in the country. A decade ago, the firm built another project in Lantana: The Moorings, a condo along the Intracoastal Waterway about a mile from Water Tower Commons. Perez did not respond to requests for comment.

  Related News: Water Tower Commons Developer Talking to Related Group, Others on Taking Role in Stalled ProjectNOVEMBER 20, 2017  |  PAUL OWERS

Related is the second developer that Lantana Development wanted to bring into the fold. The Richman Group of Connecticut previously was scheduled to build the apartments, but Lantana town council members rejected the site plan over parking concerns.

The mayor was the only council member who opposed Related's proposal, expressing concerns about a design that he said doesn't meet his vision for what is expected to be a gateway project into the town.

Stewart has publicly maintained his support for Water Tower Commons, and he insists he will continue do so and remain positive. But he told the developer he's getting frustrated that the most significant project in Lantana's history has languished for more than two years.

"I'm disappointed it's taken so long," Stewart said.

Brick and mortar merchants have struggled in recent years with the advent of online shopping. Sears, JC Penny, Macy's and other retailers have closed stores and curtailed expansion plans.

"This project, unfortunately, has been delayed by challenges that are way beyond Mr. Endelson's control, which is what's occurring in the commercial real estate market at this time," Ken Tuma, a planner for the developer, told council members.

With the upheaval in the retail sector, the delays at Water Tower Commons might be a blessing in disguise, explained Tuma. "It gives us time to figure out who the right tenants are for it," he said.

The only announced tenant at Water Tower Commons was a Walmart grocery store, but the retail giant has since pulled out of the project, Langolf said. Getting a replacement anchor is a priority because smaller retailers want to see an anchor before they commit, he said.

"Obviously, that's put us back," Langolf said. "We want a great grocery-anchored shopping center, so we're searching for a new grocer."

Meanwhile, David Arm, owner of Lantana Fitness and president of the Lantana Chamber of Commerce, said the status of Water Tower Commons is a popular topic at his gym and around the town.

"This is a project that has to be done," he said. "This is the future of Lantana we're talking about here."

Editor's Note: The news story was updated from an earlier version to include additional commentary on the project provided to CoStar News.

Paul Owers, South Florida Market Reporter  CoStar Group   
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