Portico site in Sunrise
Portico site in Sunrise ()

A West Palm Beach developer has completed a landmark $15.4 million land deal in Sunrise, paying $2.3 million per acre in an area popping with interest from large-scale developers.

The Richman Group of Florida acquired the 6.9-acre multifamily development site, gaining control of land adjacent to Metropica, one of the biggest projects proposed for South Florida.

The newly acquired parcel between the Sawgrass Expressway and Sawgrass Mills is within walking distance of a 40-acre corporate complex proposed by American Express.

“I’m not aware of any price per acre in Sunrise that exceeds this value,” said Troy Ballard, senior vice president of ARA’s South Florida land division, who brokered the deal. “Quite simply, it’s an exceptional site.”

Richman, which has developed more than 19,000 residential units, appears poised to take advantage of the surrounding retail and office developments springing up around it. Ballard said the sale was in the works for about two years.

The group has county and city approval to build Portico, a 417-unit apartment complex with four-, five-, and six-story buildings and a parking garage at the southwest corner of Northwest 136th Avenue and 21st Street. Construction is expected to start in June, and the development is set to open in August 2015.

“There are very few submarkets in South Florida that can truly command mid-rise development” west of I-95, Ballard said. “Mid-rise is higher density, so in order to make sense it requires all the other supporting pieces, like strong retail and quality office.”

Sunrise has key regional employment drivers with office and corporate parks plus attractions, like the state’s largest mall and the BB&T Center, an indoor arena that’s home to the Florida Panthers of the National Hockey League. It also benefits for infrastructure investments like the $1.2 billion express lane project on I-595 that speeds up east-west commutes.

The city has attracted corporate giants willing to invest millions in its real estate market. In December, American Express completed a $21.5 million deal with Flagler Development Group to acquire the land for an office development that would host more than 3,000 employees.

An even bigger project got the go-ahead from the Sunrise City Commission this month. The commission approved the design blueprint of Metropica, a proposed $1 billion development with entitlements for 2,400 residential units, 650,000 square feet of office space and 485,000 square feet of other commercial space.

“Sunrise is firing on all cylinders,” Ballard said. “The quantity of retail and the quality of office in a western location like this is unusual. Sunrise provides amenities that are typically found in urban environments and usually don’t exist outside the central core.”

Ballard was lead adviser, representing the seller, Aventura-based K-Group Holdings Inc., in the transaction. ARA principals Avery Klann and Marc deBaptiste also worked the deal, with ARA identifying the Richman Group as the potential buyer.