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Ritz-Carlton Residences in Palm Beach Gardens Project Brings Spotlight to City

The luxury development is expected to be delivered in about two years.

Developer Daniel Catalfumo has worked on many projects since founding his company in 1978, but he found one of the most enticing opportunities practically next door to his house. He has lived for 21 years in the Harbor Isles community in Palm Beach Isles, tucked just off the Intracoastal Waterway, and is now developing the Ritz-Carlton Residences Palm Beach Gardens with longtime associate Joey Eichner.

“I live right down the street, so this is my backyard,” Catalfumo says. “It’s on PGA Boulevard and the Intracoastal. It is just the heartbeat of everything and, being so close to the inlet, we can leave our house and be to the inlet in 10 minutes and headed to The Bahamas.”

The Ritz-Carlton Residences will be an anchor in the Palm Beach Gardens Marina district, which is seeing investments in other waterfront properties east of The Gardens Mall.

The project is notable for how 14 acres were pieced together to enable a rare, ultra-luxurious, low-rise project on the Intracoastal in South Florida

“It almost killed me. I couldn’t do this again. It was extremely difficult,” Catalfumo says. “I was very patient. We had to annex property into the city of Palm Beach Garden. It changed all the zoning codes.”

It took him 3 1/2 years with work weeks that hit 90 hours, he says.

Madison Realty Capital provided a $340 million construction loan, announced in May 2023, so Catalfumo’s efforts are paying off.

Going vertical

The project is out of the ground and into vertical construction. It will have 106 units starting at $4.5 million, with three to five bedrooms and dens, arrayed in three seven-story buildings. It will offer owners a chance to have an estate-size home in a multifamily development with 20,000 square feet of indoor amenity space and 29 boat slips for lease.

Catalfumo calls the concept “homes in the sky” since the units go all the way from front to back rather than wrapping around a center core like most condos.

Residents can park in the garage underneath their units and take a private elevator up to their homes.

Residents will have a 95-foot lap pool with an infinity edge so they can watch the boats go by. Six cabanas by the pool will be available for residents to use, and another six with private bathrooms will be available for residents to purchase.

“It’s everything that you could think of if you were going to the highest resorts you wanted to, except you live there. You’re truly on vacation 24/7,” Catalfumo says.

About half of the buyers are locals. Many of them are moving out of 12,000- to 13,000-square-foot homes because their children are no longer there, they don’t want to renovate and don’t need so much space, Catalfumo says.

Instead of the hassles of managing a single-family home, the buyers will get the round-the-clock pampering that Ritz-Carlton is known for.

Catalfumo has known the property for about 35 years.  “I remember when Panama Hattie’s Bar & Grille was the place to pull your boat up on Sunday afternoon because they had like dollar drinks, so it was perfect.”

Catalfumo missed one opportunity to buy the site, but then struck a deal in November 2021 to buy it from investor Nicholas Mastroianni II, who had also bought two more adjacent sites. A 2014 Palm Beach Post article says Mastroianni faced opposition from nearby residents for a 160-room hotel and 150 condos rising 10 stories. By the time of the article, the plans changed to 146 hotel rooms and a condo building with 78 one and two-bedroom units.

The acreage for the Ritz project grew over time, says Eichner, who is an executive VP at Catalfumo Companies and the owner and president of Catalfumo Management and Development Group and Aaron Group Realty.

“We started out with only 6 1/2 acres, which grew to 8 1/2, so we designed our development for that; then we had 11 acres, and we designed our plans for the 11 acres—and all of a sudden it grew again to 14 acres. So, we’ve run out of room. There are properties to the south already developed and too costly at this point. We’ve maxed out and we’re glad to be able to accomplish what we did.”

Ritz-Carlton-Residence

As it stands now, the Ritz-Carlton Residences in Palm Beach Gardens project will have a much lower impact on traffic than earlier plans, which was one concern of residents since it will have 35% of the originally proposed number of units.

Eichner has been allied with Dan Catalfumo for 35 years. “When he retired 10 years ago, I spun off a couple of his companies and have been operating those. They still operate independently. Then he got bored, and I brought him back to work here and the Ritz Carlton is the result of our patience.”

Catalfumo knew he wanted to do a Ritz-branded project and had the experience doing so with the Ritz-Carlton condominium on Singer Island and the Ritz-Carlton on Donald Ross Road in Jupiter, which he says is the largest clubhouse golf community that Ritz-Carlton has ever branded. He did the Donald Ross Road project as a developer for a third party and it is now owned by former president Donald Trump and called Trump National Golf Club Jupiter.

Eventually, the new Ritz will be turned over to a condominium association, but Catalfumo is keeping the marina, which will be leased only to Ritz residents.

Marina District gets investments

Eichner says the city took the initiative to create a marina district north and south of PGA Boulevard on both sides of the Intracoastal. “The reason for doing so is because the waterway is becoming very private and this will help preserve the use of the waterway for the public for the future.” Zoning and density flexibility will help accomplish that goal.

The PGA Marina on the north side of PGA Boulevard is getting an $80 million overhaul by owner Port 32 Marinas, a Charleston company. The 50-year-old building that houses 200 boats will be reconstructed with two hurricane-proof buildings to hold 420 boats, which meets the city’s goal of providing more waterfront access to residents.

Catalfumo has struck up a partnership, so Ritz residents can store their boats there and have a boat valet deliver them to the day dock at their homes.

Lifestyle was given a tour of the Marina District on a sleek Barton & Gray Day Chaser 48. B&G, which is like NetJets for boating, has about 40 locations nationwide, including Jupiter, Palm Beach, Boca Raton, Fort Lauderdale, Miami Beach and Key Largo.

Among those aboard was Chris Cox, a broker associate with Douglas Elliman, who is handling the Ritz’s sales.

As we cruised by the site, she noted, “It took over a year for the site work here because there’s a two-story garage that’s going beneath all three buildings. They had to remove 38,000 cubic yards of dirt in order to put in those 207 sheet piles and then stabilize the soil.”

She says that much of the garages are covered by green space, which is a very different approach than putting a high rise on postage stamp lots.

She expects the units to be delivered in about two years. Sales have been brisk, with some floor plans in certain vertical stacks nearing sell-out.

Wall Street South meets suburbia

The Palm Beach Business Development Board’s success at creating “Wall Street South” appears to be spilling over beyond the Town of Palm Beach and West Palm Beach.

A March article in the New York Post proclaimed, “Wall Street South execs are moving north — but only a few miles. And they’re not alone, as many house hunters on this end of Florida look to the under-the-radar Palm Beach Gardens — just 12 miles north of Palm Beach, which offers more space and less of a hustle.”

“We’re seeing the influx of people from New York and there is very limited high-quality space to be purchased in West Palm Beach,” Catalfumo says. It’s about a 20-minute drive to downtown.

Of course, all those businesses moving to Wall Street South also need housing for workers.

Catalfumo certainly isn’t ignoring the need. His company has approval to build 1,016 apartments at PGA Station, the 37-acre master project southeast of I-95 and PGA Boulevard. Ten percent will be workforce housing. He expects to start 620 apartments in the park by early 2025 and then tear down a building to start 620 more later.

The park also has existing and future Class A office space, which could be attractive to relocating businesses.

When asked if he has anything else in the pipeline Catalfumo quipped, “Well, that’s $1.5 billion, so that’s enough for me.”

Photos by Larry Wood

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