Two reasons why $70 million Gulfstream Hotel project is a Go
The ripple effects of March’s election are still being felt in Lake Worth and, more specifically, the Gulfstream Hotel. This year, Hudson Holdings flirted with the idea of selling the historic hotel after promising to give it a $70 million facelift. That is no longer the case, according to Steven Michael, Hudson Holdings cofounder.
Michael points to the election that saw voters put two new city commissioners — Herman Robinson and Omari Hardy — in office as the reason why Hudson Holdings is no longer looking for a buyer. “That the public overwhelmingly voted in people who have a positive, longterm outlook for growth is telling you what the residents want,” Michael said. “This was a very pivotal election for that city. We feel a lot more comfortable and a lot more confident.”
The Delray Beach company, which specializes in restoring and preserving historic properties, is even more confident after an appeal over building heights to block the project was denied Friday, paving the way for Hudson Holdings to move forward.
“I’m very happy and it’s what I expected to happen,” Michael said. A request for an oral argument by Lynda Mahoney and Roseanne Malakates was thrown out of the Fourth District Court of Appeals in West Palm Beach. Attempts to reach Mahoney and Malakates were unsuccessful.
Demolishing the derelict structures on the neighboring property began Thursday, said Jeff Mustard, a Hudson Holdings spokesman. Hudson Holdings received permits for the work months ago, a move which had nothing to do with the court case, Mustard said. The lawsuit filed by former commissioner JoAnn Golden with Mahoney and Malakates was dismissed by a three judge panel in August. An appeal was filed shortly thereafter. The trio sued, saying the city was in violation of the city charter that states building heights can’t exceed 45 feet. The Gulfstream is 85 feet and a planned annex hotel is 65 feet. In a referendum four years ago, 55 percent of Lake Worth residents requested that the maximum height should not exceed 45 feet in the area a block away from the Intracoastal Waterway.
The city argued the vote became moot after the state Legislature took the power to vote on building heights away from residents. Golden was unavailable for comment. In January, The Palm Beach Post reported Hudson Holdings was exploring selling the site, claiming city officials hadn’t done enough to attract more investment to Lake Worth, a comment that gave many residents the thought that the company was ready to abandon the project. “I’m a longterm investor and we want to be part of a city that is moving forward,” Michael told The Post at the time. “It’s not just about our investment, it’s important that investors follow us and I feel that Lake Worth isn’t promoting that.” City Manger Michael Bornstein disputed that claim, saying, more than $100 million worth of new private investment is underway in Lake Worth.
Mayor Pam Triolo echoed those thoughts Tuesday. “Over $140 million in new investment in the community is a clear indicator we’re on the mend,” Triolo said. “We’re managing to do that with lower building heights, smart growth. We don’t want to be an overbuilt community. We want to maintain our small town charm, but we know that we need smart investment to help us reach our potential and it’s not about selling our souls.” Robinson, who repeatedly urged the project to move forward during his campaign, was pleased the appeal was thrown out. “Now there doesn’t seem to be any impediments other than normal difficulties of construction,” Robinson said.
When asked if he thought Hudson Holdings could make good on its promise, Robinson said he’s hopeful. Robinson has been one of many residents who have been critical about the company not maintaining the site properly. “You have to keep the site in decent condition,” he said. “It’s an ongoing construction project and it has to be maintained. Keeping something clean doesn’t cost that much.” The project includes transforming the 106room Gulfstream Hotel, built in 1925, into an 87 room hotel with a downstairs restaurant, a wine and spirits tasting room and a rooftop sky bar lounge. Phase two will be a five story hotel annex Michael plans to have branded by the Curio Collection, an upscale Hilton Hotel brand. The deal with Curio should be finalized in the next six months, Michael said.