West Palm Beach, FL (PRWEB) December 28, 2012
As the nation looks for answers to avoid the fiscal cliff and revive the economy, organizations and districts like Florida’s West Palm Beach Downtown Development Authority (DDA) are addressing their fiscal issues at a local level, leading to increased optimism and jump-starts for the regional economy in 2013. With more than 25 new retailers and restaurants that opened in Downtown West Palm Beach in 2012, a number of successful small businesses in the city’s Downtown district have reinvested in larger projects in the area set to open in 2013, prompted by incentives from the DDA.
Most recently, the DDA’s business incentive grants initiated the sale and restoration of two large-scale commercial developments downtown: the former Halsey & Griffith building and the former Florida Public Utilities building. These grants are designed for property owners and landlords, expanding businesses, or those relocating within the DDA district to make modifications to existing Downtown buildings to raise the overall property value or bring the property up to proper building codes.
In addition to driving the local economy, the recent grants given highlight the DDA’s efforts to revive the area surrounding the downtown’s main street, Clematis Street. By encouraging major tenant improvements and significant enhancements to existing commercial spaces, the grants are positioned to attract a strategic mix of retailers to these neighboring streets.
“The DDA’s incentive programs have multifaceted benefits. We know a thriving business community drives job creation and retention, but it also improves the quality of life for our residents and visitors by activating a larger area of Downtown,” said DDA Executive Director Raphael Clemente. “These programs have helped encourage development and private investment in the areas of Downtown that fall just outside of the Clematis District, and it’s a bonus to see the redevelopment bring some of our historic buildings back to their former glory.”
Built in the early 1920s, the revitalization of the former Halsey & Griffith building will lead to the new headquarters for Forte Interactive, a web development and technology company that had outgrown its previous downtown space. Forte received a $100,000 grant from the DDA to purchase and transform the historic property into a creative, modern working environment with an urban twist behind the antique façade.
Beginning in 2013, Forte will occupy two of the three floors of the building that also includes a carriage house in the back, which features one of South Florida’s few remaining hand-operated elevators. Forte is working with another downtown business, REG Architects, to ensure the integrity of the main structure remains true. Space is still available for lease for two retail locations on the street level.
Another property targeted for redevelopment is the former Florida Public Utilities building, recently purchased by Linton-Jog Associates, Inc. (LIA). It is now undergoing extensive renovations totaling approximately $1.5 million, including a $200,000 business incentive grant from the DDA. The building features 20,000 square feet of office space and 10,000 square feet of active retail. A law firm and a high-end graphic print shop have both leased space in the building. The principals of LIA, John Hoecker and Kent Wilmering, are familiar with the market with nearly 35 years of commercial development in the area, as they redeveloped and still own a fully leased, 50,000-square-foot office building nearby.
Through the incentive program, the DDA encourages major tenant improvements necessary for subdividing ground floor spaces and attracting retailers, as well as for significant enhancements to life safety systems, and improvements that enable upper floors of existing commercial buildings to be used by offices, theaters and other places of assembly. In addition to business incentive grants, the DDA also offers other assistance, such as façade improvement grants, grand opening assistance and more.
The DDA is an independent taxing district with a mission to promote and enhance a safe, vibrant Downtown for residents, businesses and visitors through the strategic development of economic, social and cultural opportunities. For more information about Downtown West Palm Beach and its incentive programs, contact the DDA at (561) 833-8873 or visit westpalmbeachdda.com.