Palm Beach and West Palm Beach may be connected by three bridges, but historically the two neighborhoods have remained worlds apart. “West Palm Beach was desolate with many empty lots—even into the 1990s,” says real estate agent Chris Leavitt. “It was a place you didn’t go.” This bias, however, has been lifted thanks to Palm Beach’s severely limited acreage, the vastly improved transportation in West Palm Beach, and a spate of high-end retailers and developers who are migrating across the bridge. The largest new West Palm development is the Bristol, a just-completed 25-story waterfront condominium project containing 69 units priced between $5 million and $40 million, more than 70 percent of which were sold prior to completion.
Owners of these spacious dwellings, which average 4,100 square feet, have access to an on-site beauty suite, air-conditioned garages, a club lounge, and a catering kitchen. But Leavitt believes the unobstructed views of the Intracoastal Waterway, Atlantic Ocean, and Palm Beach Island are the best features of all. “You can’t build past eight stories on Palm Beach Island,” he says. “In West Palm, you not only get the views, but you also get these amazing high ceilings. It’s like a beacon in the sky.”
Even the less-lofty existing single-family homes are feeling the upward momentum, he notes. “While not quite yet at Palm Beach levels, prices have started rising dramatically in the past few years. Ten to 15 years ago, no one could have imagined this.” Investment hunters, take note.