One West Palm was meant to be a landmark development for a growing city, a mixed-use project in the sky with tall towers, breathtaking views and the best amenities for residents and businesses.

But nearly 3 and a half years after the start of construction of One West Palm, the apartment, office and hotel project remains unfinished. A tower is still a concrete shell without windows.

With no quick completion in sight, residents and property experts worry, does the unfinished complex become an iconic horror?

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In an interview Last Monday, Jeff Greene, the developer of One West Palm, reassured. He said construction of the complex was set to ramp up after delays caused by the coronavirus pandemic, as well as technical and labor issues.

Greene said windows are finally being installed in the east tower, a move that will allow interior work to begin once the floors are closed.

But he recognized the resort at 550 N. Quadrille Blvd. will take yet another year to complete.

Barring unexpected construction delays, fall 2023 is the targeted completion period, Greene said.

The construction site for the One West Palm development, at 550 N. Quadrille Blvd., is seen in downtown West Palm Beach, Fla., Wednesday, Sept. 21, 2022.

Construction experts aren’t so sure.

A late 2023 opening could be for the west apartment tower, which has windows and is undergoing interior work. But the state of the tower’s hull means completion could stretch into 2024, or beyond, others have said.

“It’s expected to take 18 months,” said Larry Zabik, founder of project management firm Zabik & Associates, who isn’t working on the project.

Zabik is the project manager on a number of commercial and residential construction projects in Palm Beach County, including Nautilus 220, a 24-story twin-tower condominium complex being built in Lake Park.

Zabik said once One West Palm’s fire safety system is up and running, Greene will be able to get a temporary occupancy certificate for the parts of the building that are complete.

The slow pace of One West Palm left city officials frustrated but with little influence.

While work is ongoing, the city cannot force the project to move any faster, said Rick Greene, director of city development services. “We would love to see it finished,” he said.

The slow progress of One West Palm is also frustrating for residents and businesses who have had to live in the shadow of the unsightly complex at a time when efforts continue to bolster the city’s image as an attractive destination.

“It’s a stain on all of us. Come on, Jeff. Finish the building,” said Andrew Goodman, a resident of the Waterview Tower on South Flagler Drive.

Goodman said the west view of her apartment faces One West Palm.

Greene pays $10 million for a former condo site in West Palm Beach

Greene is a Palm Beach billionaire who went on a land-buying spree in West Palm Beach after the 2007-08 recession.

Since then, he has developed selected sites.

He bought a former car dealership on South Dixie Highway and turned it into The Greene School, a private school for advanced children, grades kindergarten through ninth grade. He built a luxury apartment complex near The Palm Beach Outlets and a warehouse complex near Florida’s Turnpike.

He also purchased a number of other properties in West Palm Beach, many of which were parcels that were once intended for luxury residential condominiums.

A 3.3 acre property at 550 N. Quadrille Blvd. was one of those sites. In 2014, Greene paid $10 million for the previously planned 550Q condominiums.

In 2016, Greene won city approval to cross the 10-story height limits on the property, a move that would allow him to build 30-story towers and offer sweeping water views of the city. ‘Intracoastal Waterway and Atlantic Ocean.

In exchange for tall towers, Greene agreed to build offices and hotel rooms, which at the time city leaders believed were much needed downtown.

One West Palm is expected to have 328 apartments in one tower, 200,000 square feet of office space and a 201-room hotel in another tower. The resort is also expected to offer a number of amenities, including a daycare center, a 34,000-square-foot fitness center with a putting green, an upscale restaurant, and indoor and outdoor tennis courts.

Market prompts Greene to suspend West Palm Beach tower complex

Even as he planned One West Palm, Greene worried about the lukewarm office market. This caused him to delay construction.

His concerns were based on downtown West Palm Beach’s long history as a moving market, where tenants for new buildings typically come from older buildings and not from outside the area.

This trend began to change as the city matured and a 2017 federal tax law change eliminated the ability for people living outside of Florida to deduct state income taxes from their federal returns. Businesses in the Northeast began moving to states with no state or local taxes, including Florida.

Construction on the $250 million One West Palm finally began in May 2019, with completion originally scheduled for the first half of 2021.

The project kicked off around the same time a new office building dubbed 360 Rosemary began construction in The Square, the dining, shopping and entertainment district formerly known as CityPlace.

The One West Palm buildings quickly created a new landmark on the north side of downtown, away from the skyscrapers of the central business district.

But when the pandemic hit in March 2020 and working from home became the norm, Greene got nervous again and he halted construction on One West Palm.

Fearing that the office and hotel market would be deeply compromised, Greene also requested a zoning change that would allow him to build apartments where offices and hotel rooms had been planned. But the city wouldn’t budge on zoning change, noting that office space was a requirement for One West Palm’s extra-tall height.

The city urged Greene to be patient.

The towers remained vacant concrete skeletons until December 2020, when construction resumed amid a surprising pandemic-inspired migration of businesses to Florida from the crowded and cold climes of the Northeast.

At that time, Greene predicted the towers would be open by the summer of 2022. That didn’t happen.

Work progresses amid changing pandemic demand for real estate

In a recent interview, Greene said the window installer had “technical” issues with the east tower job. Interior work cannot begin until the building is sealed with windows.

Other work also needs to be done.

Greene acknowledged that he has yet to sign an agreement with a hotel operator.

Greene said he also felt uncertain about the economy even as he moved ahead with construction. With the fundraising of the American central bank interest rates in an effort to offset inflation, Greene said a recession is possible.

He’s also still uncertain about the demand for office space, which he thinks is overstated. Compared to office demand in Manhattan, “it’s a slow-moving city,” Greene said.

Meanwhile, just west of One West Palm, the 360 ​​Rosemary office building was completed last year. Tenants, including several financial companies, have moved in.

The developer of this tower, Related Cos., is already building another office skyscraper, One Flagler, near Flagler Drive. This month, The Related Cos. announced plans to build another office tower, this one near Brightline station on the north side of The Square.

Greene also has other projects in West Palm Beach that he wants to build, including residences on land he owns near Currie Park on the north end of town.

He remains optimistic that One West Palm’s amenities and views will allow it to be “competitive in a tough market.”

And Greene assured that when completed, One West Palm will be a historic property sought after by tenants. The views, he said, “are breathtaking.”

Still, he added, “I’ll be happy when it’s done.”

Alexandra Clough is a business reporter for the Palm Beach Post, part of the USA TODAY Florida Network. You can reach her at [email protected] Twitter: @acloughpbp. Help support our journalism. Subscribe today.