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Downtown Palm Bay? Developer building Aqua housing-retail complex on R.J. Conlan Blvd.

PALM BAY — Platted as a sprawling residential community by General Development Corp., Palm Bay lacks a historic downtown found in traditional Space Coast cities like Melbourne, Cocoa and Titusville.

Palm Bay planners are targeting Robert J. Conlan Boulevard as a future “downtown district” for developers to build urban-style construction.

And Thursday morning, a groundbreaking ceremony occurred for the Aqua housing-retail complex at the curving northern end of the industrial roadway.

“The plans for this area are going to be phenomenal. And Palm Bay is seriously growing like gangbusters,” said Nancy Peltonen, president and chief executive officer of the Greater Palm Bay Chamber of Commerce

Describing Palm Bay’s potential downtown district, Peltonen displayed an conceptual rendering of pedestrian-friendly brownstone buildings and angled parking along Robert J. Conlan Boulevard, near Palm Bay Road.

Land clearing started in July for Aqua. The project includes:

• 320 apartments surrounding a lake, ranging from studios to one-, two- and three-bedroom units

Vertical construction should start next week, and crews may complete the five-building complex by January 2020, said Andrew Steel, Northshore Development chief investment officer.

•  Five commercial buildings, fronting Robert J. Conlan Boulevard

“We’ll look to local retailers, coffee shops, restaurants, breweries. It’ll be next to a fantastic dog park,” Steel told the crowd.

Commercial construction may start in the third or fourth quarter of 2019, Steel said, wrapping up by summer 2020.

This conceptual rendering depicts brownstone buildings and angled parking along Robert J. Conlan Boulevard in "downtown" Palm Bay.

The 24-acre site was purchased for $1.1 million in July 2016 by Franz Hanning, CEO of Orlando-based Northshore Development. Hanning is former president and CEO of Wyndham Vacation Ownership.

In terms of development, Hanning likened Palm Bay with “an empty canvas” where little has occurred the past 30 years. Aqua lies near to Harris Corp.’s Technology Center, Renesis (which acquired Intersil Corp. last year), and Raytheon’s future facility on U.S.

“I’ve never been more excited about a place than Palm Bay. I think even the people that live here don’t really understand or realize what ‘s going to hopefully happen,” Hanning said.

In September, the Palm Bay City Council enacted a six-month moratorium on all applications for development orders, development permits and building permits within the proposed Robert J. Conlan Boulevard downtown district. City Hall staffers plan to prepare new design and zoning guidelines during the moratorium. 

Palm Bay Mayor William Capote compared Aqua with “the birth of a child” in creating a downtown district. In recent years, he said most people thought he was crazy when he talked about redeveloping this older area of the city.

“I know you are taking a risk on this vision. But I will tell you: Other people are going to follow you here. And you’re going to see that Northshore is going to be mentioned as one of those catalysts that made this happen, this corridor here,” Capote said during the ceremony.

“So I want to thank you for taking the risk in Palm Bay — because some other people wouldn’t,” Capote said.

Some of Palm Bay’s highest-profile development busts the past few years have centered near the site. The previous owner of the Aqua property — a different Orlando developer — floated visions in spring 2016 of building a convention center, two hotels and an arena hosting a Southern Professional Hockey League expansion franchise. That never left the drawing board.

Three years ago, just to the east on U.S. 1, Oakridge Global Energy Solutions announced plans to launch a lithium-battery plant boasting 1,000 high-paying jobs by the end of 2018. Gov. Rick Scott visited Palm Bay for the high-profile jobs announcement — but the project fell through.

Defense contracting giant Raytheon is now remodeling the building, with plans to staff hundreds of employees.

Lincoln Property Co. will manage the Aqua four-story apartment complex. Based in Dallas, the firm bills itself as the nation’s second-largest multi-family property manager, overseeing 124 residential communities with more than 33,000 units.  

Neale is the South Brevard watchdog reporter at FLORIDA TODAY.

Contact Neale at 321-242-3638


Twitter: @RickNeale1

Vice President Of Development

Adam Frocione

Mr. Frocione has a track record of more than eight years of diverse experience in institutional real estate investment management and development and has successfully completed more than $2 billion in transactions across sectors and risk / return profiles during his career. He is responsible for sourcing, underwriting, negotiating, due diligence, and closing of commercial investments and developments across the firm. He is a graduate of Stetson University with degrees in finance and applied statistics.

Director Of Acquisitions And NSD Partners

Blake A. Maher

He provides a broad range of financial and management coordination through the entire development cycle. Prior to joining NSD, Blake worked as an analyst in the Property Finance division of Doral Bank. He was responsible for analyzing potential debt investments across multiple asset classes for a national real estate platform. His primary responsibilities included cash flow analysis, debt memorandum creation and market research. He is a graduate of the University of Florida with a background in Finance and Economics, as well as a graduate of Crummer School of Business at Rollins College where he obtained his Masters in Business Administration.

Director Of Finance

James Shulterbrond

Mr. Shulterbrondt is an accounting and finance professional with over 12 years of experience in the real estate industry. Throughout his career he has served in various accounting roles of property management and construction with a unique expertise in the sectors of multifamily housing, office, and retail. His success has been primarily due to his professionalism and excellent work ethics. Mr. Shulterbrondt holds a Master of Finance degree from Webster University.

Executive Vice President Of Development

Miguel Reynaldos

Miguel A. Reynaldos has more than 30 years of commercial real estate experience, encompassing development and project management, design management, construction administration, entitlements, regulatory compliance and consulting. His diverse real estate background includes managing the development process, both as owner and on a consulting basis as owner’s representative and project types including industrial, office, educational, public facilities, multi-family residential, as well as, specialized expertise in data centers.

Chief Administrative Officer

Carol Chang

Ms. Chang has 25 years of experience providing administrative support to C-Suite professionals at prominent organizations such as Wyndham Vacation Ownership, Golf Channel, and Orlando Magic. She is best known for her professionalism, integrity, and strong work ethic.

SteelChief Investment/Financial Officer And Partner

Andrew R.

Mr. Steel has 15 years of experience managing and negotiating complex transactions in the hospitality, office and residential real estate sectors. He has participated in over $5 billion of successful real estate transactions and brings a strong background of financial expertise. Mr. Steel has worked with the top-tier of real estate development teams throughout his career including Margaritaville Holdings, The Related Group and The Carlton Group. Mr. Steel has also been a successful fintech entrepreneur with the founding of one of the first real estate fintech platforms and he brings a unique vision for creative structuring and strategic financial planning for long term success with the Northshore Development platform. Mr. Steel holds an MBA degree from Rollins College with concentrations in real estate finance and economics.

Chief Executive Officer & Managing Member

Franz Hanning

Franz S. Hanning served as President and Chief Executive Officer. Wyndham Vacation Ownership since their separation from Cendant in July 2006. Mr. Hanning was responsible for the world’s largest developer and marketer of flexible, points-based vacation ownership products. The company’s five primary consumer brands – CLUB WYNDHAM©, WorldMark© by Wyndham, Wyndham Vocation Resorts Asia Pacific. Shell Vacations Club and Margaritaville Vacation Club@ -together comprise more than 200 resort properties, representing approximately 24,000 vacation ownership units and serving more than 900,000 owner families worldwide. After retiring from Wyndham Vocation Ownership in December; 2016, Hanning formed Northshore Development to manage his property holdings in Palm Bar, Florida. He owns Palm City Investments FH, LLC which owns the 24 acres property in Palm Bay. Specialists in Commercial Real Estate Development, Investment, and Branding.