|By Jeff Ostrowski, The Palm Beach Post, Fla.
Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News
Oct. 7, 2005 - The owner of two high-profile hotels in Palm Beach County has paid top dollar for a third property, the beachfront Palm Beach Hilton.
West Palm Beach-based Ceebraid-Signal Corp. said Thursday that it paid $42 million for the 134-room oceanfront hotel at 2842 S. Ocean Blvd.
The deal's price tag of more than $313,000 per room makes it a particularly rich one, real estate experts said.
Ceebraid-Signal and its partner, New York-based Investcorp, plan to turn the building into a condo-hotel, a newly popular type of ownership that lets individual investors buy condominium units in hotel buildings with concierges, pools and fitness centers.
When they're not using the units, condo owners can rent them out as hotel rooms. Condo-hotels offer real estate-mad Baby Boomers an easy way to own investment properties, said real estate consultant Jack McCabe of Deerfield Beach.
"Condo-hotels are a big trend right now," McCabe said. "Baby Boomers really like the amenities and services they get, as opposed to just having a condo unit."
Ceebraid-Signal in July paid $13 million for the 106-room GulfStream Hotel in Lake Worth, and it paid $18 million in 2002 for the Brazilian Court in Palm Beach.
Ceebraid-Signal and Investcorp plan to convert the GulfStream into a condo-hotel, and the developer has sold most of the units at the Brazilian Court for prices ranging from $400,000 to $2 million, Ceebraid-Signal spokeswoman Rosalind Sedacca said.
The Palm Beach Hilton, built in 1980, sits just north of the Lake Worth municipal beach and just south of the Four Seasons hotel. Rates go as high as $649 a night in tourist season.
Ceebraid-Signal ended the hotel's franchise deal with Hilton and renamed the property the Ocean Club Beach Resort. The Ocean Club and the GulfStream will continue to operate as hotels through the upcoming tourist season, Sedacca said.
The company plans to begin renovations on the former Hilton property next spring, refashioning the building to include 119 units ranging from 350 to 750 square feet. It's unclear how much the units will cost, Sedacca said.
Ceebraid-Signal is pursuing other condo-hotel deals in Palm Beach and Broward counties, although Sedacca wouldn't divulge details.
The Palm Beach Hilton deal is the latest in a wave of conversions of apartments and hotels into condos, a phenomenon that's causing tourism officials to sweat a bit.
"That means there are not as many hotel rooms available for tourists to use, and frankly we could really use them," said Charles Lehmann, head of the county's Tourist Development Council. "But hey -- it beats them turning it strictly into a condo."
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