Delray Beach and Boca Raton Real Estate and Homes for Sale

Watch as Jeff and Dave, the founders of YourDelrayBoca.com, give you their take on the local real estate market:

There is no more dynamic real estate market in the U.S. than Boca-Delray.

From oceanfront mansions and historic homes to picturesque country clubs and subdivisions the market is vibrant, the choices are endless and the neighborhoods varied depending on age range, price and taste. The area features everything from old Florida to the most modern downtown condo’s and townhomes.

You are sure to find exactly what you want in these two world-class cities.

Buying or selling in the Delray-Boca area and need a recommendation? We can help. Learn more here.

Remembering Bob Currie

Bob Currie

A number of years ago, I had lunch with a retired city employee who said something that resonated deeply with me.
She told me that while Delray was a wonderful town, we didn’t know how to say thank you to people who contributed greatly to our community.
I’m afraid that might be true.
So many good ones get away without formal recognition.
It’s not right and we should do something about it.
In fact, one of the reasons I write this blog and one of the reasons I invested in a community newspaper was to say thank you to special people who have enriched our community.
We lost Bob Currie last week and he was one of those special people. Very special.
Delray owes him a heaping debt of gratitude because his accomplishments are vast and his influence was widely felt.
If you like our public library, Bob is one of the people you should thank. He served on the library board for years and was dedicated to making sure we got a new one on West Atlantic.
He lived near the beach and was dedicated to the Beach Property Owners Association whose leadership adored and respected him.
He was passionate about Pineapple Grove and dedicated thousands of hours to the district, giving special attention to the design of projects in the neighborhood and to the gateway arch. I was with him the night it was first lit. We sat with half a dozen volunteers at a nearby restaurant and toasted the future—a future that people like Bob envisioned. He was a believer. A true believer in this town.
He was passionate about historic preservation and was immensely dedicated to the restoration and success of Old School Square.
He loved the “bones” of the place taking special delight in the Crest Theatre.
He loved the people who were similarly dedicated to Old School Square, especially founder Frances Bourque. He adored her and she loved him.
Bob gave so much of his time to the betterment of what I believe is Delray’s signature civic project.
Bob was a talented and experienced architect. His firm’s stamp can be found all over Delray and throughout South Florida and parts beyond.
Bob’s dad was an architect too and he was deeply devoted to the field.
He loved to paint, golf and travel.
He was smart, not afraid to argue for a position and earned his place as the dean of Delray’s architectural community.

Bob was a throwback to a time when dedicated volunteers made Delray Beach a very special place. They were long term players, deeply committed to Delray and able to work with others. They were interested in the big picture. Hence Bob’s interest in Pineapple Grove, the beach, OSS, the downtown and historic districts.
I miss those days.
Delray misses those days.
And Delray will miss Bob Currie.
He was a wonderful man. We were blessed that this is where he landed and that he decided to give his time and talents to Delray Beach.
Rest In Peace my friend.

Thank you….

Things We Loved In September

Stephanie Immelman is the new CEO of the Delray Chamber.

Things We Loved In September

Bahamian Relief efforts. It was great to see the community response to Hurricane Dorian. The efforts were heartfelt and needed.
Boynton Beach will hereafter be known as the city of romance.
Elitesingles.com has named six South Florida cities to its most romantic cities list.
Boynton Beach tops the list with Boca landing at number 6 well ahead of number 17 West Palm Beach. No sign of Delray in the rankings….sigh.
The rankings are based on data compiled by more than 150,000 people who use the website.
Tech Power
South Florida Business Journal’s 2019 Tech Power List includes a bunch of local names. Here they are:
Joe Russo, who spearheads Palm Beach Tech and the 1909 incubator which has a location in Delray, Felecia Hatcher of Code Fever, Gregory Van Horn of Launch Potato, ShipMonk CEO Jan Bednar who went to FAU and got his start at FAU’s Tech Runway, Dan Cane of Boca’s Modernizing Medicine, Rob Flippo of Boca based Mobile Help, Boca’s Adam Rogers of Ultimate Software, Sam Zietz of Touchsuite and  Rhys Williams of Tech Runway were on the elite list. Very cool.
Food and Beverage
Vino Wine Bar in Boca.
Magnificent wine list, wonderful pastas and great apps.
Don’t miss the chicken piccata and the gnocchi.
The Tropical Salad at Papas Tapas…try it. You’ll love it.
I adore Five Spice. Just great tasting food.
Grand Luxe is always a fun time. Best fried pickles around.
Pizza Craft in Fort Lauderdale was a fun outing for me and my buddy Chuck Halberg. Great calamari, good thin pizza and very nice servers.
We are big fans of Baciami in Boynton Beach which is owned by the Pellegrini family who live in Delray. They also own Il Bacio and Prime.
If you venture north to their beautiful restaurant don’t miss the chicken rollatini, eggplant and if you really want to indulge they have the best NY style cheesecake which is homemade.
Interesting to see the legendary Tom’s Place BBQ open a store in the Boynton Beach Mall.
Beer Trade Company in Delray is underrated. It’s a relaxing hangout with good food and a vast array of beer choices. Some good ciders too.
Heartland Rock
We had a chance to catch the legendary BoDeans when they played the Broward Performing Arts Center last month.
The band, well known in the 80s and 90s, still sounds great.
They should have been bigger.
Check them out on Spotify. We recommend “Idaho”, “Still the Night”, “Stay On” and “Closer to Free” as a primer. If you love rock, this Wisconsin based band will hook you.
Enjoyed The Spy on Netflix.
The true story of Israeli spy Eli Cohen was riveting and featured a great performance by Sacha Baron Cohen in a very different role for him.
My dad had a book on Eli Cohen when I was a kid and I often found myself picking it up and delving into the story and photos. Don’t miss it.
Really pleased to see Boca based fitness drink Celsius take off.
It was an eventful month for the Nasdaq traded company. The company purchased Finland based Func Foods for $25mm and also introduced a BCAA line of drinks that will be out soon and available on Amazon and at fine retailers.
The company that I work for is the largest shareholder in Celsius and I’m a former COO of the company. We are very proud of their growth and their talented team. The future is very bright.
Congrats to The Arts Garage for their fine work and for being recognized by the School District for their art education efforts. Marjorie Waldo is a rock star.
This from the Delray Parks and Recreation Department:
“Sending a big congratulations to our one and only Senovain Stephens. Delray Beach born and raised, from living in Frog Alley to graduating from Atlantic High School, he knows Delray like the back of his hand. He started with us in 1993 and worked his way up the ladder earning him a promotion from Assistant Parks Superintendent to THE Parks Superintendent!  Congratulations Senovain!!”
Rock Star Energy Drink founder Russell Weiner is selling his Delray Beach home and it can be yours for only $36.5 million.
Sounds like a bargain.
The mansion does have six bedrooms, a 12 car garage, a tennis court and a pool with a water slide.
Weiner purchased the home for $11.6 million in 2009.
Now that’s appreciation.
Finally,
The Delray Chamber of Commerce announced that Stephanie Immelman has taken the permanent position of CEO.
Stephanie said, “I’m proud of what this new team and I have already accomplished the past four months. Our new hires, Angelica Vasquez and Kristopher Fisher, are already making waves, membership has increased dramatically, and the Chamber has re-engaged in a big way with the Delray community. We can’t wait to do more,”.
The selection of Ms. Immelman caps a search process focused on selecting a results-driven leader to drive change management, mission fulfillment, and operational outcomes to maximize the value the Chamber provides to its membership. The choice was made after the search committee considered the qualifications and experience of over 240 qualified applicants.
“After an extensive search for a new CEO of the Delray Beach Chamber of Commerce, we are pleased to have selected Stephanie Immelman,” said Bill Branning, Chairman. “Stephanie has an energetic leadership style. This combined with experience in non-profit and for-profit management positions makes Stephanie uniquely qualified to lead the Delray Chamber.”
You may know Stephanie Immelman as the former Executive Director of the Delray Beach Marketing Cooperative but she has extensive business experience at Fortune 500 companies both in the US and Europe. She has held senior marketing positions at Continental Airlines and AT&T and worked in the corporate finance department of Global Crossing focusing on international mergers and acquisitions.
We wish her well.
Have a great October.

The Magic Of BRIC

Boca Economic Development Director Jessica Del Vecchio, Body Details CEO Claudio Sorrentino and Celsius CEO John Fieldly talk business at the Boca Raton Innovation Campus.

 

It had been many years since I had visited the old IBM campus in Boca Raton.

I had forgotten how big it was and what a large role it had played in the economic life of Southern Palm Beach County.

At its height, more than 10,000 IBMers worked on the picturesque campus and down Congress Avenue in Delray in the Arbors buildings.
It was a remarkable era.

Those memories came flooding back when I attended an event last week at the site which is now known as BRIC for Boca Raton Innovation Campus.
Crocker Partners has poured millions of dollars into the campus and it looks magnificent.
The effort has been hugely successful attracting a slew of companies to the campus including Modernizing Medicine and Vitacost which is now owned by Kroger.
It’s impressive.

I was at BRIC to root for my friend John Fieldly, the CEO of Celsius, a company that my company is heavily invested in. John was on a panel of health care entrepreneurs which included the chief Medical Officer of MDVIP, the chief marketing officer of Vitacost and the CEO of Body Details, a high growth laser hair and skin rejuvenation company.

The panel discussion was moderated by Boca Economic Development Director Jessica Del Vecchio and she led a fascinating discussion on workplace culture, marketing, growth and where the health space is going.

Jessica is a rock star, truly a next level economic developer. Boca is very lucky to have her. Her small office gets big results. She knows how to sell Boca.

At the networking breakfast before the panel, I had a chance to catch up with another friend Pete Martinez, the former IBM site executive, who is now involved in several promising artificial intelligence companies.
Pete reminded me of the site’s legacy. Boca is where the PC was invented but it’s also the birthplace of tech that launched robotics, data analytics, AI and so much more. Boca IP can be found in cellphones, ATM’s and so many more pieces of our daily lives. It’s quite a legacy and it was cool to hear Pete’s pride in the legacy of the location.

It’s also cool to see BRIC and Crocker Partners extend that legacy.

Boca is remarkable when you think about it.
Sure you hear the knocks, but the city aspires, there’s a lot of business happening there, a lot of technology, education, finance and cutting edge medicine too.
The Boca Raton Innovation Campus and its event series is a welcome and needed addition to our local economy.
I can’t wait to go back. And I urge you to visit if you have a chance.

Things We Loved In August

Things We Loved in August

Hawkers
Good to see a new restaurant coming to the long vacated space that used to house Sonoma on East Atlantic Avenue.
Hawkers, which features southeast Asian street food, looks awfully  interesting. Can’t wait to try it.
Coco Part 1
Some great photos on social media of Delray tennis sensation Coco Gauff and her family meeting Michelle Obama.
The meeting occurred after Coco competed in the Citi Open in Washington D.C. She won the doubles title with Caty McNally. Her first WTA title.  Pretty impressive. Oh and she made the cover of Teen Vogue too. Not to mention a cover story in USA Today and an appearance on Good Morning America. And a first grand slam singles win on the stadium court  at the U.S. Open.
 Not a bad month.
Mazel Tov
Congratulations to Dupree and Janay Jackson on their wedding. We wish this special couple health and happiness now and forever. They are doing great things in Delray.
Movies around town
We saw “Echo in The Canyon” at the Living Room Theater and it was in a word: wonderful.
The documentary , starring and executive produced by Jakob Dylan, is a loving look back at the amazing music produced by denizens of Laurel Canyon in Southern California in the 60s.
The Byrds, Buffalo Springfield, Beach Boys, Mamas and The Papas, The Association and Crosby Still Nash are among the musical giants celebrated in the film.
Interviews with Michelle Phillips, Brian Wilson, Tom Petty, Ringo Starr, Stephen Stills, Jackson Browne, Graham Nash, David Crosby, Roger McGuinn, Lou Adler and Eric Clapton add color to the timeless music covered by Dylan, Fiona Apple, Jade, Norah Jones, Beck and others.
It’s truly terrific. A can’t miss if you love classic rock.
Another cant miss is David Crosby: Remember My Name also at the Living Room.
Produced by Cameron Crowe (Almost Famous) Remember My Name is an unflinching look at Crosby’s life, loves, addictions and broken friendships. It’s powerful and honest but leaves you with more questions than answers.
We also saw The Art of Racing in the Rain. It was wonderful. But bring a box of tissues. You will need it. A must see for dog lovers and those who cherish a good story, well told.
Also outstanding: Blinded By The Light. The feel good movie of the summer.
Caridad
Kudos to the Caridad Center. The nonprofit’s “Back to School Bash” provided 1,000 Deserving Children with Much-Needed School Supplies.
Well done.
A Promising Debut & Other Restaurant Doings
We checked out the new Elisabetta’s on Atlantic Avenue and it was worth the wait.
Located in the former space occupied by the classic 32 East, Elisabetta’s is an Italian restaurant with a huge menu, two bars, a gorgeous terrace, great pasta and truly special pizza.
The restaurant is very beautiful, the build out is really something to see.
We continue to be impressed by the Driftwood on US 1 in Boynton Beach.
Excellent service and an innovative menu makes for a very good experience.
The short rib is as good as I’ve ever had.
Check it out. Don’t miss the yuca tots, they are delicious.
 
ER Bradley’s remains a favorite. 
The West Palm Beach staple is always fun and we like that it’s dog friendly. 
The Impossible Burger is on the menu and the pretzel bread is always a treat. 
We wish Rick Jankee smooth sailing upon his retirement from Delray’s legendary Sail Inn.
Rick sold the sail after 30 years of running one of Delray’s favorite local bars.
So many memories. So many good times. Thanks Rick!
Brule is such a special restaurant. Despite the construction across the street, it was crowded when we went to enjoy a recent lunch.
The chicken parm panini, truffle fries, greens and chicken meatballs are just out of this world.
Welcome to the Ave!
The Wine Room opened this month. Haven’t been over there yet, but the photos online look great and they run a great store in Winter Park.
We had a great happy hour/ dinner with friends at the always wonderful Papas Tapas. With construction on The Ray closing off one lane of traffic it’s important we support the businesses affected on Pineapple Grove.
More Coco.
Coco Gauff is not just showing athletic prowess she’s showing class and leadership too.
The budding tennis star surprised students at The Village Academy on the first day of school with an impromptu visit.
Very cool move.
Boca Eco Dev
Boca keeps landing  new business headquarters.
FlexShoppers will expand by 200 jobs as it consolidates locations under one roof.
Jessica Del Vecchio, Boca‘s Economic development director is a rockstar.
Happy Birthday Bill
Finally, happy birthday to Bill Branning.
Bill who chairs our chamber of commerce has been an invaluable contributor to Delray chairing Old School Square, serving on city advisory boards and on the CRA while running a great local business- BSA Corp.
We were thrilled to celebrate his birthday with friends and family.
Have a great month and stay safe during Dorian.

Assessing iPic

The story of iPic in Delray is a long and complicated one.

So let’s sit for a spell and unpack a little of it because it’s important to try and understand.

The CRA board chose iPic over three other proposals in August 2013. That was six years ago.

Ipic’s winning bid promised a theater and office space on land that once housed the library and the Chamber of Commerce.

But the history of that RFP goes back even further than 2013.

I was on the commission in the early 2000s when we moved forward with a complicated transaction to move the chamber and library and free up the land for redevelopment. The goal was to give the chamber and library new and better facilities replacing what had become dilapidated buildings.

Both of those goals were achieved—with the chamber occupying beautiful space under the Old School Square Parking Garage and the library occupying larger space on West Atlantic Avenue. The library’s board believed that the library would better serve the needs of the community on West Atlantic.

We agreed.

It was not an easy decision and it was not without controversy either.

I remember hearing from residents who didn’t want the library to move to the West Atlantic corridor. One citizen put it bluntly: “why would you put the library out there with those people?”

Yep, that was said.

It just made us want to move it more.

Still, the transaction was a complicated one since the Chamber had a lot of years left on a very sweet lease and there were a lot of moving parts and entities involved.

But it got done, because that was an era where people were able to work together. I sure miss those days.

Once the deal was struck,  an RFP was issued and awarded to a group that envisioned a mixed use project and a hotel. But the Great Recession hit and the deal never got off the ground. Eventually, the CRA issued a new RFP and that led to the iPic deal.

It should be noted that CRA staff liked the iPic bid, but did not rank it first. There was another theater concept—an European style theater if I remember correctly—that they ranked ahead of iPic.

But once the Boca-based iPic was chosen, the CRA staff embraced the concept and worked to make it happen.

The proposal sparked controversy—as so many projects do—over concerns about traffic, design and parking. Those are the usual bugaboos—all understandable.

Mix in personalities, ancient feuds, politics, misinformation and the difficulty of getting things done and it took nearly six years from awarding the RFP to opening night. When iPic won the deal the expected opening date was 2016—it took twice that long.

It seems like the entire town showed up for the grand opening party which may have been the best party Delray has ever seen.

The reviews were mostly glowing—the building was next level beautiful, with living walls of plants, striking art work and plush seating.

The office space—still in the process of being leased—is also beautiful and much needed in our downtown to complement and diversify our abundance of food and beverage options.

Since then, I’ve been to iPic twice. Most of my friends have gone as well— a time or two.

We tend to agree—it’s a good experience but very expensive and not something we see ourselves doing regularly and many of us are movie fans who go frequently.

That said, I supported iPic and hoped the concept would succeed creating a new use downtown and adding jobs to our city since there were promises—albeit sometimes vague ones– to move their corporate headquarters here. It’s important for cities to be business friendly and to have good economies. That doesn’t mean compromising your ethics, selling your soul or offering back breaking incentives. But it does mean hanging an “open for business” sign at your City Hall and being reasonable. It also means welcoming debate.

That said,  I and many others were disappointed in the tone of the debate surrounding iPic.

And while I sympathized with the views and concerns of opponents, I thought more than a few crossed the line with personal attacks on those who supported the project. I also thought some elected officials pushed it by supporting the use but adding costly conditions (outside the scope of the RFP) making it more difficult to succeed.

I felt so bad about the treatment, that I invited iPic CEO Hamid Hashemi to lunch to tell him that despite the vitriol Delray was a nice place and many people wished him and his company success.

So when the news broke last week that iPic missed an interest payment on over $200 million in debt and may have to consider bankruptcy it stirred a lot of emotions. This week, bankruptcy became the path and iPic will operate as usual until it either restructures or is sold.

There was the usual chorus of “I told you so’s” and a slew of people wishing the company ill will which I think is wrong.

Do we really want to see a company fail? Do we want to see an empty building in the heart of our downtown? Do we want to see iPic staff lose their jobs because management loaded the company up with debt?

I don’t think so.

You know who should be mad?
iPic shareholders who have seen their stock plummet.

The retired teachers who depend on their Alabama pension fund also have a right to be angry and concerned since they funded a large chunk of that debt.

And yes, citizens of Delray are justified in feeling disappointed. Our downtown’s real estate is precious. It’s not a good feeling to see a high profile project threatened.

The initial financial blogs quoted iPic as saying sales dipped as a result of the government shut down earlier this year. That really doesn’t pass the smell test.

Round two explanations made more sense: iPic was a trendsetter but other chains are loading up on the luxury too—often at lower ticket prices. So there’s competition in an industry being disrupted by streaming services. Add crushing debt to that equation and all the innovation in the world or the biggest rooftop bar won’t save you.

Still, many people in this community supported the downtown iPic. I did.

While pricey, we liked the idea of another use in the downtown and we liked the idea of Class A office space and a corporate headquarters too.

We liked that iPic offered corporate event space, special events and unique programming through partnerships with entities such as Netflix. We trusted their projections and studies that showed that this market could support an iPic so close to the Mizner Park location.

We liked that business publications were featuring the company and that it was able to go public and was considered an innovator in its space.

So seeing it fall into bankruptcy is no reason to celebrate.

This is where strong communities come together and make lemonade out of lemons. I hope and trust we will do just that.

So what can we learn from this?

iPic Delray has not struggled because of parking or traffic woes.

The local theater was not challenged because downtown Delray isn’t strong enough to support the use.

Clearly, the business model is deeply flawed.

But other chains are managing to figure it out.

Living Room Theater at FAU regularly sells out offering offbeat, independent and foreign fare.

Alamo Drafthouse and other innovative chains seem to be doing well and drawing crowds.

I hope iPic finds a good strong buyer with solid vision and a healthy balance sheet. I also hope the Alabama teachers don’t get crushed in the process. That one might be tough…

It would be great if the Class A office space that was built gets leased and brings much needed jobs to our city.

Regardless, whatever happens we should find ways to work together to pick up the pieces and make this a success somehow, someway. That’s what strong towns do.

What a concept, huh?

 

 

 

Unhappy New Yorkers

High Taxes.

Lousy weather.

Outrageous cost of living.

Those are the first three lines you see when you click on the website http://www.unhappynewyorkers.com .

There’s testimonials from New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo extolling Florida’s tax advantages and a quote from AOC’s mom saying she moved to the Sunshine State to save money on her property tax bills.

The website is actually a clever marketing piece for Downtown Doral as well as a smack down of the Empire State.

There’s even a downloadable “resignation” letter that goes like this: Dear (Family Member or Friend’s Name):

 

New York is no longer for me. After careful thought and consideration, I’ve officially decided to leave the Big Apple to move to the true apple of my eye: Downtown Doral in Florida.

 

This may not come as a surprise to you–I’m not the only New Yorker who agrees with Mayor Cuomo that Florida is an attractive option for those unhappy with the change in the tax law. In fact, many of our friends and neighbors have already made the move to Florida. I know you won’t question my decision as it’s no secret that New York has the most expensive properties in the nation, our taxes are becoming more burdensome and Mother Nature has only grown more relentless.

 

With the money I will save on taxes and cost of living, I can stop dreaming about paradise and actually live in it. I’ve found a luxurious, urban home at Downtown Doral just steps from some of the best schools, eateries and boutiques in South Florida. Plus, I’m just minutes from the white-sand beaches of Miami. I’m ready to welcome the warm climate, diverse culture and engaging lifestyle of Doral without feeling like all my money is going to taxes!

 

Please continue to stay in touch, and when you’re ready to find tax relief, you can join me in Downtown Doral. Just visit DowntownDoral.com to help you find your new dream home.”

 

Brilliant.

And mostly true, I suppose; although July and August in Florida is no picnic.

Still, as a native and proud New Yorker I’m not sure how I’m supposed to feel about a website trashing my ancestral homeland.

Thirty-two years ago last week I made the move to Florida driving a 1978 Toyota that was spitting water out of the air conditioner. I drove that Corolla 24 hours to my best friend’s parent’s condo in the Inverrary section of Lauderhill.

There was no doubt in my mind that I had found paradise. Of course, my definition of paradise in 1987 was a pool, a tennis court, bagel shops everywhere, a beach, sunshine and a job writing for a newspaper covering Delray Beach and Boca Raton. Come to think of it, that definition still works.

I would later live—albeit briefly—downwind from a landfill in Coconut Creek next to a guy named “Ace” who told me not to feed the turkey vultures that hovered over our condo quad. (I hadn’t intended to).

By 1988 I made my way to Delray Beach where I have been ever since.

I don’t regret leaving New York, but there are times when I do miss it, even though I doubt I would ever move back. If I did win the lottery I would consider a home on Long Island and would definitely spring for a Manhattan condo—something overlooking Central Park with season tickets to the Yankees and Mets and a box at the U.S. Open.

All of this is to say that New York is not so bad. It’s actually pretty wonderful and believe it or not there are a lot of friendly people there too and yes a few who may have missed charm school including the poor guy who went viral a few weeks back after losing it at a bagel shop. (Google it, its wild).

Still, as a fan of clever and edgy marketing, I applaud unhappynewyorkers.com. Downtown Doral looks interesting despite the traffic, heat and distance from those white sandy beaches.

As noted in an earlier blog, demographers are expecting that Florida will be getting more than its fair share of northeast transplants as the tail end of the Baby Boom roars toward retirement.

I know that has some people worried, but not me.

One thing you learn growing up in New York is how to roll with whatever life hands you.

 

 

 

It’s Simple Math

Ken Gronbach is often asked by Fortune 100 companies to predict the future. He does through the power of demography.

There’s a tsumani coming to Florida and we are not prepared for it.

Those were the startling words we heard last week from a well-known demographer at Leadership Florida’s annual meeting at the Grand Floridian in Orlando.

The “tsunami” refers to a wave of people who will be heading to the Sunshine State in the coming years to seek tax relief, better weather and quality of life, according to demographer Ken Gronbach, an expert who is often hired by Fortune 100 companies to predict trends based on population and other factors that drive sales and lifestyle decisions.

Grombach is bullish on Florida but he also cautions that the state has no idea what’s about to happen and is deficient in a number of areas including housing. We just don’t have enough to serve the needs of the people who will be seeking a new life in Florida.

Interestingly, it’s not the “millennials” who will be driving growth but the tail end of the baby boom generation —those born between the late 50s and 1964 that will be fueling the growth.

“You don’t need a crystal ball,” Gronbach told Leadership Florida, a non-profit that consists of community leaders from throughout the state. “It’s simple math. We can predict people’s behavior based on their age and by looking at the Census we can know the size of the market that’s coming.”
So what does that mean?
Well…

Florida’s will explode (with people)

Bigotry will end (future generations are free of bias)

China, Japan and Russia have big demographic problems that they cannot avoid.

China’s economy will implode (their one-child policy was a big blunder)

Europe will be forever changed (immigration will change its character)

Funerals will double (the party will end for boomers)

Marijuana will be bigger than wheat (Cheech and Chong were right)

“We can accurately forecast what’s next based on the rise and fall of populations,” he says. “But it’s often missed by smart people who don’t recognize the power of demography.”

Now this may sound a little depressing, but if you see Gronbach he’ll tell you that’s it not.

“I can’t see a single number that worries me,” he says talking about the United States. “We won’t run out of food or room…the future is bright.”
In fact, one of his most provocative statements is that he does not foresee a recession anytime within the next 20 years because of population growth and trends.

But, if you’re someone who is disturbed by growth, Florida may not be the place for you.

In fact, in our own little world we are seeing some interesting growth trends. According to the Census, Boca has reached a milestone of 100,000 people and Delray is now around 70,000 people. Both cities have experienced double digit growth since the last Census in 2010, Boca at about 18 percent and Delray at about 14 percent.

And according to Gronbach we have only just begun.

“I live in Florida half the time—and if you go in-season the elderly in Florida range from 75- to 95-years-old. Boomers right now are 54 to 73, so they aren’t even there yet.”

But they are just off shore and they are descending on Florida “like locusts.”

Let’s let Mr. Gronbach explain: “What is going to happen is you have a tsunami offshore because the people, the generation right in front of the boomers, which is called the “silent generation,” they were born 1925 to 1944 and there are just over 50 million of them that were born in the U.S., with no immigration during their start up and even during their tenure. That would further have complemented their generation. But, instead, they are tiny, the smallest generation of the last 100 years.

So people ask me, what is going to be influenced by the boomers? And, I say whatever is going to happen, whatever these people consume, whatever senior citizens consume, be it health care or elder care or death care [i.e., funeral homes, etc.], or cruises or whatever, will be dramatically enhanced by the boomer generation of 80 million people. They are right offshore. It is coming, people have been lulled into thinking that it has already hit, and it has not. The boomers will change anything and everything. It does not matter, there are so many of them it will be a case of rising tides lift all boats.”

According to Gronbach, we will be 25 million housing units short in the United States as the children of Boomers begin to move out of their parents homes.

Not part of his presentation– but certainly a factor– were the changes recently made to the tax code which limits the deduction of state and local taxes on our federal income tax. States such as New York, New Jersey, California and Connecticut are seeing an exodus of tax burdened residents to places such as Florida and Texas.

It is estimated that luxury properties in Florida cost a third less than comparable properties in New York, a stat that savvy developers are beginning to explore and exploit.

Ultimately, Gronbach’s presentation is a very positive one for the United States especially as we ramp up our competition with China, whose one child policy he describes as the single greatest demographic blunder of all time because it has created an aging society that cannot take of its young or old.

But like everything, growth has its plusses and minuses, especially if we don’t prepare.

At some point, we have to address traffic and congestion issues, infrastructure, climate change (mysteriously absent from his presentation) and a host of other concerns. We also have to address land use and have an intelligent conversation about how to limit sprawl which creates traffic and burdens our fragile environment.

Still, Gronbach’s “math” makes for intriguing discussion. We ignore the numbers at our own peril. It’s simple math.

 

 

 

Mayoral Trends

Mayors wrestle with everything from scooters to cannabis.

Every year, many— if not most— mayors give a “State of the City” address.

And each year, the National League of Cities studies what they’re saying and compiles the results into what they call a “State of The Cities” report (very creative).

The report ranks and discusses ten main topic areas that mayors are excited or worried about. It’s an interesting list and while economic development and infrastructure continue to be top priorities for cities, mayors are increasingly exhibiting leadership on newer issues—such as scooters, social media and marijuana.

Below is a list of the top 10 “movers” this year and some comments from a has-been who has been out of the game for 12 plus years.

Economic Development: Opportunity Zones

In 2019, 74 percent of  state of the city speeches gave significant coverage to economic development — meaning a mayor or city manager provided concrete details on a plan, impact or goal related to growing the local economy. Of the 74 percent, 17 percent talked about opportunity zones. While some mayors are discussing what opportunity zones are and how to take advantage of them, others are moving ahead with opportunity zone policies.

Comment: Economic development has always been a hot topic, but opportunity zones are new. I think the zones are great public policy, but the powers that be missed some obvious zones (Congress Avenue, downtown Lake Worth) while blessing some areas that are already blessed.

Infrastructure: Ridesharing

Cities are becoming “smarter”, with new mobility services such as “dockless” bikes, ride sharing and scooters emerging in communities across the country. Mayors are recognizing that if you want to ditch your car in favor of a bike to get to work, you should, and now you can in many cities, towns and villages across the nation.

Comment: We never heard or ridesharing, Uber or Lyft in my day. We did know about carpooling. And bike lanes were a huge topic back in the day.

Health & Human Services: Recreational Marijuana

Communities are approving marijuana use at bars and cafes (really) and are expecting to accrue large financial benefits. From tax receipts to the diminishment of unsafe underground economies, cities are prepared to capitalize on this newly-regulated industry. Coverage of the recreational marijuana subtopic increased from two speeches in 2018 to seven speeches in 2019, an increase of 250 percent. In 2019, 46 percent of speeches significantly covered health and human services, and 10 percent of those provided concrete details regarding recreational marijuana, ranging from changing zoning codes to filing lawsuits against cannabis regulation.

Comment: Not sure we saw the legalization movement coming in the early to mid -2000s. And we thought CBD stood for Central Business District.

Energy & Environment: Solar Power

Advancing solar power is one of the many steps that cities are taking to fight climate change. Local governments are fostering solar energy growth by supplying government buildings and traffic systems with solar energy, embracing community solar power initiatives and reducing the energy burden for low-income households.

Comment: LED lights were just emerging as an option and LEED was gaining popularity. But sea level rise wasn’t on the radar screen.

Budgets & Management: Intergovernmental Relations

Cities are continuing to voice their concerns about the relationship between local and upper levels of government, particularly state overreach and fiscal constraints.

Comment: Mayors have always feared Tallahassee and Washington too. Home rule has always been a hot topic and while we would have welcomed help, we were happy if we weren’t bulldozed by mandates and wacky policy.

 

Housing: Blight and Elimination

In recent years, cities have implemented blight elimination measures, which include rehabilitating or demolishing vacant and abandoned properties to revitalize and strengthen neighborhoods.

Comment: Always a popular topic and focus. We did fear the elimination of Community Development Block Grants which pay for neighborhood rehab projects etc.

Public Safety: Education and Initiatives

Across the United States, more local police and fire departments are engaging with residents to increase education and awareness on public safety issues, ultimately building community trust.

Comment: A perennial. We called it community oriented policing and civic engagement.

Demographics: Civic Engagement

Mayors have consistently encouraged residents to engage in civic activities and provided their constituents with important opportunities that can impact their city’s future. In 2019, some mayors also specifically discussed plans regarding the political participation process and municipal election reform.

Comment: We were there for the hanging chads and the 2000 election so….election integrity and voting were always important concerns. We also were big on visions, charrettes, neighborhood dinners, advisory board recognition, town halls and forming neighborhood associations.

Education: School Outcomes

Both in 2018 and 2019, mayors discussed plans to achieve higher high school graduation rates. In 2019, mayors also announced school programs designed to address issues affecting student performance, such as chronic absenteeism and childhood trauma.

Comment: Education was a huge concern and focus.

Government Data & Technology: Social Media

More local governments are using social media to address pertinent issues within their communities and increase communication with their residents.

Comment: Social media didn’t exist, we didn’t even have a consolidated website when I was first elected in 2000. Technology was on our minds, we wanted online bill pay etc., and added streaming coverage of meetings but it was a simpler time. If someone said 3G to us, we assumed they meant the deli on West Atlantic. P.S. 3G’s has great pastrami.

 

The Importance of Civility

 

“It is the willingness to listen. The thing I fear most is the absence of civility; I don’t fear the argument.” –Leon Botstein, President Bard College.

I saw that quote a few weeks back while on a business trip and it resonated with me because I think Mr. Botstein nailed so much of what’s wrong today.

I don’t think we are willing to listen anymore—certainly not to anyone that we disagree with. We seem to want to assign bad motives to those on the other side of an issue and make a beeline toward the yelling.

Like the President of Bard College, I fear the absence of civility because if we aren’t civil what’s left other than a spiral to violence?

We are at a precipice in America. And we best be careful. Because when you dance on a cliff you might find yourself slipping into an abyss that’s not so easy to climb out from.

So as I wandered the hallways of the Las Vegas Convention Center marveling at the elaborate exhibits at the International Council of Shopping Centers—the new retailers, the cutting edge technologies, the new and wildly creative food and beverage concepts and the dizzying array of deal making—I couldn’t help but feel both excited and worried.

On so many levels, the future looks bright.

The bar is being raised everywhere you look in business and technology.

Is it all good?

No.

We went to a local Walmart when I came home and we watched everyone struggle to scan their own items and I thought “you know I don’t work here, this isn’t efficient and where the heck is the cashier?”

But a lot is good….the plant based burgers that taste like the real thing, the marvelous places design is taking us, the amount of computing power we walk around with when we carry our cell phones and we always carry our phones don’t we?

But the worrisome part is the human part. How we relate to each other.

When we were in Vegas my hometown went to war—at least on Facebook– over a proposal by iPic to add a rooftop restaurant/bar to their new location in downtown Delray.

I can argue both sides of the issue and I see where both sides have some good points. So a good debate/argument would have been fine. One where we listen, one where we decide what’s best for Delray. But on social media that’s not how things play out.

While there were some good arguments articulated, there were a raft of disturbing comments as well.

In the spirit of Jimmy Kimmel’s “mean tweets” segment— in which celebrities read aloud comments made by online trolls—

I’ll share a few. With some commentary of course.

“It’s all about developers BUYING Commissioners!”

 (Comment: there’s no evidence of bribery and if there please alert the authorities.  iPic is not a developer and this is a tired argument used whenever someone proposes a project. I especially love it when someone who lives in a project that was protested when it was proposed makes this argument. I can’t help but think, if the commissioners of their day had listened, you might not live here.)

“I pic (sic) can go to hell in a handbag. They can’t cry over spilled milk. Bieng (sic) underhanded got them no where, and good! (Comment: the logic is almost bad as the syntax).

“So glad I left Delray….when the Yankees took over…”

(Comment: I’ve seen this tired trope a few hundred times, sometimes New Yorkers are used instead of Yanks, but as a New Yorker I get the not so veiled message: this place was Eden before the New Yorkers came here and ruined it. Not only is that a horribly flawed argument, it’s often made by people who are in business as if Yankees don’t buy homes, cars, furniture, meals, financial products etc. There’s one realtor I will never do business with because he just loves to insult New Yorkers. Now that I know what he thinks of me, I figure there are many other good realtors who may appreciate my business and referrals. Is that petty? Maybe. But if I was his broker, he’d be out the door in a New York minute).

I can go on and honestly this last spasm of nasty wasn’t as bad as some others that I have seen. It’s why I use Facebook to share pictures of dogs and my blog—while avoiding the various groups and pages that feed the divide rather than foster debate. For the record, I was texted “screen shots” of the quotes I shared until I begged the sender to stop. I got the drift.

Bottom line: there has got to be a better way.
Because I don’t think the current way is really working here or elsewhere We don’t seem happy as a nation, we don’t seem to be solving problems (as a society) and we don’t seem to be united on much these days.

As a former elected official, I wrestled with some similar challenges. But it seems social media has taken it to a new level of mean.

The commission’s I served on tried to find ways to connect and to foster respectful debate. Sometimes I think we did and sometimes we fell short.

We urged the chamber of commerce to get involved, we tried to create a safe environment at city meetings, charrettes, town halls etc. and we tried to introduce neighbors to each other through “neighborhood dinners.”

Was everybody happy?
Not on your life. (And I have the emails to prove it).

But we tried, and we also understood that you can’t make everyone happy. You have to make decisions and that means some people will walk away fuming. It goes with the territory.

But most of us on the dais, endeavored to raise the level of debate, to keep it fact-based and to do what we felt was best for the long term good of the community. Ultimately, it’s up to the voters and history to decide whether leaders at any level succeed.

But ultimately, it is about civility. The ability to work with our fellow citizens is essential to a healthy and sustainable democracy. Community begins to fall apart when civility crumbles.

Let’s not fear the argument. Let’s fear the absence of civility.

 

 

 

Things We Loved in May

Great documentary with a guest appearance by Delray’s own Max Weinberg.

Things We Loved in May

 

It was great to see Boca Raton based Mela Artisans featured in Florida Trend Magazine in May. The company specializes in selling handmade goods made in India online and in stores such as Home Goods and TJ Maxx.

Keep an eye on this growing company.

 

FAU’s College of Engineering and Computer Science earned a $652,820 grant from the National Science Foundation to establish an Artificial Intelligence and Deep Learning Laboratory. That’s good news for FAU as the Lab is said to be a first of its kind grant for the National Science Foundation proof of the university’s growing reputation in cutting edge fields of research.

 

 

Over 64 of tomorrow’s stars converged on the Delray Beach Swim & Tennis Club May 4-6 for the United States Tennis Association Boys and Girls 18 and under championship.

 

The PIM Open features rising stars who come to Delray for three days of top notch competition.

 

The event provides a boost to the local economy just when we need it, putting heads in beds at hotels and exposing Delray to players, families, coaches, college scouts etc.

 

Tennis is an important industry in Delray and we should grow it,  not litigate it.

 

 

 

 

We wish The EJS Project a happy one year anniversary and congratulate them on a great mini- documentary that was released in May. Check out the organization here: https://www.ejsproject.org/

 

We were honored to attend the 100th anniversary celebrations Plastridge Insurance at the Delray Marriott. Please see our blog about Plastridge and the legacy of the Lynch family here. We were also thrilled to see Plastridge win the “Business of the Century Award” from the Boca Chamber at a gala luncheon at the Boca Resort.

Plastridge Chair Tom Lynch told the capacity crowd that the key to success is to balance business with family life and to find time to take care of your health along the way. Tom is a terrific role model.

Congrats to fellow honorees Sal Saldana GM of Town Center at Boca Raton named Business Leader of the Year & Roxana Scaffidi of Florida Accounting & Advisers who was named Small Business Leader of the Year.

 

We were thrilled to see Frances Bourque get an honorary degree from the University of Florida in May. Please see our tribute here http://yourdelrayboca.com/our-frances-a-most-distinguished-citizen/

 

 

Speaking of Plastridge, CEO Connor Lynch was honored by Sun-Sentinel with a Next Excalibur Award.

 

Lynch, 38,  was not only honored he is the first winner of the Next Excalibur Award, which recognizes the next generation of leaders whose voices will contribute to the growth and sustainability of business and civic life in Palm Beach and Broward counties. Connor was selected by a committee of previous Excalibur award winners. His father was an Excalibur winner in 2000.

How cool is that!

 

Restaurant fare

 

Crazy Mike’s has crazy good wings.

Timpano on Las Olas has awesome food.

Da Best on Dixie and Yamato is a great sandwich shop.

Okeechobee Steakhouse: a classic with a fun bar scene, great service and truly great food. A true gem.

We tried Duck Donuts in Boca and it was awfully good. Just delicious.

The penne with mushrooms at Sardinia—defies description.

Don’t miss the plum wine at Sushi Thai in Delray and we are loving the Bee Hive in Boca.

Also, if you visit iPic Delray check out the pizza. It’s delish.

Last but never least, Ziree never fails in the taste and service department. Highly recommend you visit.

 

Thanks Chuck

Kudos to our friend Chuck Halberg who does so much for the community.

Chuck, a longtime Arts Garage patron, donated the roughly $40,000 worth of improvements that will add a classroom, an improved box office, a bar and administrative offices.

Viva Las Vegas

I attended my first International Council of Shopping Centers convention in Las Vegas this month.

In a word, it was overwhelming. More than 30,000 attendees, miles of booths and exhibits and some interesting seminars on the future of retail and shopping center design.

One takeaway: while we read about the “retail apocalypse” bricks and mortar still has some life left. Sure things are changing and we have to pay attention and adapt, but 91 percent of retail sales still take place in a physical store. We’ll revisit some of these subjects in upcoming blogs.

 

The 2019 Boca Raton Bowl will be televised on ABC on a Saturday afternoon instead of ESPN on a Tuesday night. The game will be played in FAU Stadium and the date is Dec. 21. Time is 3:30. Very cool. Mark your calendars.

 

Movies:

 

We caught Booksmart at Cinemark. Wonderful directorial debut from Olivia Wilde. The film has a chance to become a classic of the coming of age genre.

Finally, saw Vice on a cross country flight. Powerful. Christian Bale just may be the best actor of his generation.

We also caught a special showing of Asbury Park: Riot, Redemption, Rock N’ Roll at the new iPic. Wonderful documentary chronicling the rise, fall and rise again of a seaside city. We’ll have more in an upcoming blog. Highly recommend you go if you love cities, rock music and New Jersey.

 

Books:

 

I finished two books in May and recommend both. Palaces for the People by Eric Klinenberg is a beautifully written book about the public realm and the best defense of public libraries I’ve ever seen.

Love the title. And the sentiment.

Investments in libraries, parks, community centers, art, culture etc.,  are essential keys to happiness and strong communities. It’s a good message for our troubled times.

 

Thanks to Kate Volman I read Matthew Kelly’s book on creating a winning and happy culture, the Culture Solution.

 

A must read for business, government, academics and non-profit leaders who care about creating winning cultures. And if you don’t care…well you aren’t really a leader.

Until next month. Thanks for reading.