West Palm Beach, Boca Raton and other communities in Palm Beach County are no longer just for grandparents and the very rich. The combination of remote work, the shifting scores of financial companies from the Northeast to South Florida and new high-speed train service has transformed the area into the place to be for working professionals and their families but will remain separate from the amenity-rich condominium community.
“West Palm Beach was dormant for decades,” reports Kenneth Baboun, the developer of one of the luxury condominium towers under construction there. “In the past few years, the city has done an amazing job improving the infrastructure so that people are finally able to move here. We’ve had a huge expansion of office buildings and downtown is filled with new restaurants.”
Baboun, the managing member of BGI Companies, purchased a 1.7-acre lot on the Intercoastal Waterway in West Palm Beach and is building Alba Palm Beach, with 55 luxury condominiums in a 22-floor tower, including four two- and three-story townhouses for the families moving there. His team recently broke ground and started building a seawall, but 40% of the units are already sold. Prices begin at $2.3 million in the tower and go up to $7.5 million, depending on size and location.
“I’m really selling a lifestyle on the water,” Baboun remarks. “We will have a dock with eight boat slips for sale and a storage room exclusively to store water toys, including paddle boards. Residents can grab their boards in the early morning and glide along the Intracoastal before work.” The property, he adds, will have everything from cabanas to a bocce ball court, and the pool will have decks for lounging from sunrise to sunset. Inside amenities include a spa, fitness center, private dining room and a fully equipped conference room. Each residence will feature glass-framed terraces with summer kitchens and most will have water views.
Buyers include people downsizing from estate homes on Palm Beach Island, professionals who moved to Miami during COVID-19 and now want a less-urban lifestyle and people from the Northeast with two or three other homes, Baboun says.
Scott and Jen Posavitz fit into that last category. Jen reveals, “We recently sold our apartment in Manhattan and moved to our home in the Hamptons. We were searching the internet for a two-bedroom home on the water in the Palm Beach area, but we wanted new construction and most of the buildings we saw were old. When we found Alba, our decision was almost instantaneous. We reserved a unit on the 16th floor with a view of Palm Beach and the ocean, then went down to visit.”
“We were blown away by the design and love the huge terrace and outdoor kitchen,” Scott says. “We don’t own a boat, but we might be tempted because our purchase comes with a one-year membership to the local yacht club. We snorkel and I’m a certified scuba diver, so I’m eager to try out the watersports.”
Jen notes, “My grandmother moved to this area when I was a kid. I’m surprised at how young the people are who live there now.”
A five-year-old high-speed train line with neon-yellow cars that zips from Miami to West Palm Beach and now to Orlando is transforming Palm Beach County. Towns that once housed retirees, tourists and the workers who serve them are now also attracting employees from Miami’s burgeoning financial district.
“It’s a game changer,” says Kenneth Baboun, a developer who is building a luxury condominium tower, Alba, in West Palm Beach. “Many of the busi- nesses moving to Miami are from the Northeast and their employees are used to commuting to work. I live in West Palm myself, but our headquarters are in Miami, and I take the train four or five times a week. I spend five minutes walking from my house to the station and another five minutes walking to my office in Miami.”
“The trains are as clean as they can be and taking them is a white-glove experience, like traveling first class on trains in Europe. If you buy a premium ticket and live within five miles of the station, they’ll even send someone to pick you up,” he adds. Premium class also includes larger seats and admis- sion to a premium lounge with com- plimentary drinks and snacks.
QUICK AND EASY
The trip from West Palm Beach to Miami takes an hour and 20 min-
utes, and tickets for the round trip on Monday, October 30, began at $29 for Smart Class and $47 for Premium if you left at 5 a.m., but rose to $54 and $69 for a train at 7 a.m. Like an airline, ticket costs go up on popular days and times, but passengers can lock in con- sistent fares by purchasing monthly passes, which are also available for parking garages at most stations.
Sometimes tickets for popular times sell out, Baboun reveals. “I also use the train to attend sporting events in Miami, but I always buy my ticket in advance,” he says. “If you wait until the day of the game, they may all be gone.” Shuttles to and from major sporting events and concerts may also be provided.