From Crack USA to Wall Street South, West Palm Beach has come a long way baby

The terrace of an oceanfront penthouse follows the curve of the condominium building at 100 Royal Palm Way in Palm Beach.

Welcome to The Dirt! I’m real estate reporter Kimberly Miller with the latest developments in the sizzling market.

In 1989, West Palm Beach was such a cauldron of drugs and crime that HBO’s documentary Crack USA: County Under Siege featured the city and its, um, challenges.

But, whoa, what a difference a few decades and a few developers make.

Last week, the Palm Beach County Commission OK’d a donation of $42 million worth of downtown land for a new University of Florida graduate school. CityPlace was built and renamed Rosemary Square then renamed the Square. Brightline speeds folks from Miami to West Palm Beach lightning fast when it’s not colliding with some poor soul on the tracks. (I mean seriously, what’s that all about?)

And now West Palm Beach has been nicknamed “Wall Street South” after a bounty of New York financial firms decided to put down roots where drug dens once stood.

Palm Beach Post senior business reporter Alexandra Clough is the expert in the city’s latest renaissance so don’t miss her story outlining last week’s historic vote and the speedbumps that may still be in the way.

The Gators are coming to West Palm  with unicorns, rainbows and tech

This Aug. 24, 2021 photo shows Datura Street, left and Evernia Street, right, in West Palm Beach, Fla.

While the new campus in West Palm Beach seems idyllic with graduate programs in finance, technology and law, there is still a little teeny question about billionaire Jeff Greene’s donation of 5 acres of land.

I don’t know about you but when I hear him say he “hopes we come to terms but there are no guarantees,” I wonder how peachy keen perfect the whole shebang is.

New home slump? What new home slump?

Homes under construction, next to a completed home, in the Windgate subdivision in Avenir, in Palm Beach Gardens, Wednesday, January 26, 2022.

While home builders nationwide might be feeling the pinch of higher interest rates, higher inflation, higher insurance costs and a wonky stock market, South Florida developers say they are still happy campers with buyers eager to move to the Sunshine State.

Reporting this story was challenging because finding statewide numbers on new home sales is like finding the Arc of the Covenant but no Harrison Ford or adventure travel vacation for perks. Still, you’ll get the idea that permits for new homes are up, but not as up as they were in 2020 and 2021. Things that make you go hmmm.

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From sketchy vacant lot to luxury living with new restaurants and retail

The new Common Grounds coffee shop is located at the CasaMara plaza in West Palm Beach.

The CasaMara luxury apartment complex rose like a phoenix from the rubble of crumbling deserted buildings and sketchy happenings in the bushes along South Dixie Highway. I know this because I walk by it on my way to work and you don’t want to know what I saw happening in the bushes.

Now, there’s a Common Grounds coffee shop, and seven new retailers and restaurants. It’s an exciting addition to the South Dixie corridor and makes for a much more pleasant walk to work.

Trophy Palm Beach condo sells lickety-split during dog days of summer

Listed at $15 million and under contract, Penthouse 1 at 100 Royal Palm Way has 5,870 square feet of living space, inside an on its oceanfront balcony.

A penthouse condominium with world-class views of the beach and The Breakers went under contract in less than a month for a whopping $15 million. That may be no biggie during season, but in summer, it’s quite a feat.

Luxury real estate reporter Darrell Hofheinz has the details, including a description of the condo, which was marketed not just as a home to hang your hat, but as a “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”

Some housing markets peaked this summer and then there’s Palm Beach County

Home sales and home prices slipped in July in Palm Beach County but that doesn’t mean the housing market has peaked as I explain totally coherently in this story about a Florida Atlantic University study released last week.

Instead, South Florida is moving up in the ranks of overvalued markets as others sink. Find out which ones are deflating in my attempt to explain what housing economics told me when I’m not a housing economist nor do I play one on TV.  And I didn’t stay at a Holiday Inn Express.

Live lightly.

Kimberly Miller is a veteran journalist for The Palm Beach Post, part of the USA Today Network of Florida. She covers real estate and how growth affects South Florida’s environment. If you have news tips, please send them to

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This article originally appeared on Palm Beach Post: West Palm Beach went from Crack USA to Gator Nation and Wall Street South

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