Richard Siemens Founder of Siemens Group

For the first time in 20 years, a developer is looking to break ground in Boca West, a posh 1,400-acre residential community with 31 tennis courts, six restaurants and four championship golf courses designed by professional golfers Arnold Palmer, Jim Fazio and Pete Dye.

Siemens Group, the company behind the Polo Club Boca Raton, Harbour’s Edge and Gleneagles Country Club in Delray Beach, will create Akoya at Boca West, a $185 million condominium development set for delivery in fall 2015.

The 120-unit luxury project will stand on a 6.7-acre infill site between two golf courses. Its two- and three-bedroom units will range from 2,676 to 4,780 square feet. Prices range from $1.2 million to $2 million but will likely increase after the fall groundbreaking.

Richard Siemens, president and CEO of Boca Raton-based Siemens Group, says he’ll convert the site to a plush development offering white-gloves service, private elevators and dramatic architecture.

Why build this major project after a 20-year lull?

When you have no new development for such a long time, there’s a pent-up demand. Miami-Dade has had some new construction in the last six years, but in Palm Beach County there’s been nothing. Part of the reason is there was no way to get financing. Banks were stuck with inventory and weren’t making any condo loans. When developers first started building in Miami-Dade, everything was financed by the buyers. But there has always been demand. Condo sales have been pretty good, but the thing is all these units being sold were built nine, 10 years ago.

What factors did you consider when gauging demand and timing?

The distressed product is gone. Users and investors have bought it all up, and many of these older units have been converted to apartments. In the meantime, demand for condominiums doesn’t go away. It just gets pent up. There’s been no new condo construction in the wider Boca market for the last seven or eight years. When you have that long a period in which nothing was taking place, you have to look at why. Is it because there was no demand or because nothing was available? In this particular case, it was because nothing new was being made available.

So it’s time again for new product?

Yes, because you couldn’t build new product at distressed prices and make any money. But now, look at what GL Homes is doing in west Delray. They’re selling houses down there as fast as they can build them. Anybody who’s got product to put on the market is doing very well.

Who’s the target market for Akoya?

The thing is this: From an amenities point of view, Boca West probably has 300,000 square feet of amenities and one of the largest amenities packages in the whole country. At Akoya, we’re attracting buyers from country clubs that want great views, a sense of community and luxury amenities. The sales center has sold more than 10 units, with 10 to 15 more contracts out to attorneys for signing for clients from New York, New Jersey and Miami. Some are from Boca West or other area country clubs and waterfront properties. Buyers are typically older than 55. But it’s interesting to note that Boca West has seen increasingly younger buyers in the last two years. The average age is down about 17 percent from 75 to 62 years.

Tell me about Boca West Country Club.

Boca West is a development started in 1972 with thousands of residences, many of which were completed by 1990. In the last 20 or so years, nothing had been built because all the land that had been available had already been consumed. The site we’re using was a maintenance area for the golf courses. It’s about 6.7 acres that were no longer used and were just sitting there. Boca West Country Club finally decided to go ahead and sell it so that some new product could be developed there.

Where does work stand on the project?

The property is under contract. We executed the contract on July 1, 2013, then started the process of approvals to go forward with the construction. Financing is still being arranged, but we have quite a number of interested parties. We have all the development permits, and we’re working on other permits. Right now, we’ve cleared the property and are in the land-development phase. In the next few weeks, we’ll be improving the land, putting in drainage, doing soil stabilization and preparing it to receive the foundation. Then we’ll apply for permits this month, so keep making progress.

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