Nora, West Palm Beach's newest planned dining and entertainment district, is starting to rise.

On May 31, an official groundbreaking will take place to transform a run-down part of the city, just north of the downtown, into a zone that evokes Miami's hip Wynwood warehouse district.

When completed, Nora is expected to cost nearly $1 billion to develop, said Ned Grace, co-founder and managing partner of NDT Development in West Palm Beach and a Nora co-developer.

NDT, co-founded by Grace and Damien Barr, is a developer of the White Elephant Hotel (the former Bradley Park Hotel) on Palm Beach as well as an owner of the One Clearlake Centre office building. The Nora Venture also includes Place Projects, an early developer of Miami's Wynwood, and Wheelock Street Capital.

Work soon will begin on Nora's first phase, the transformation of old warehouses along North Railroad Avenue into a space for restaurants, offices, stores and gyms to create the district's Main Street. Completion is slated for the end of 2024.

Developers recently shared new details with The Palm Beach Post about the Nora district. Nora is short for North Railroad Avenue, the district's western boundary.


Nora stretches from Seventh Street north to Palm Beach Lakes Boulevard. The newly created city district encompasses 40 acres, of which the Nora development group owns between 13 to 15 acres.

In addition to outlining construction timelines, developers also revealed plans for the creation of a new private club for West Palm Beach, a space where club members can gather for coffee, meals or cocktails to talk business or just socialize.


Nora will include rehabbing 9 old structures and building 4 new ones

Some 13 buildings will make up the 154,000 square feet planned for the core commercial portion of Nora, a phase expected to cost $123 million. Of the 13 buildings, nine are rehabs of old structures, and four will be new construction, Barr said.

Renderings show a low-scale grid of landscaped sidewalks, punctuated by buildings that blend the area's vintage architecture into a new contemporary vibe.

Nora will include the following elements:

  • Up to 13 restaurants will take up about one-third of the space along North Railroad. They will range from fine dining to a neighborhood coffee shop to a lunchtime spot. Mexican, Italian, sushi, Mediterranean and American fare are all in the mix. You won't see chain restaurants here, Grace said. Instead, look for experienced regional operations, some of which will be chef-driven.
  • Retail stores will take up another one-third of the space. Look for boutique fitness operators as well as a mini-department store or other shops.
  • Urban offices on buildings that have second and third floors. Already, Nora's developers are fielding inquiries from professional-office users, including architects, to medical providers.

Some five years ago, when Nora's investors started assembling land for the district, Grace said the hope was to be able to fill the project with some great tenants.

The ambitious venture to transform a run-down part of the city into a lively destination follows the city's explosive growth in demand for offices and residences. The coronavirus pandemic dramatically accelerated what had already been a steady boom in corporate relocations and home sales to West Palm Beach.

"Now Nora's developers have more demand for space than they expected, and the restaurant operators are not only great tenants, (but) the exact tenants we want," he said.

Then there's the social club, details of which still are being worked out.

Nora will include a social club, which West Palm Beach no longer has

Grace said the idea is to create a place where club members can meet anytime for coffee, dining or cocktails, rent out conference rooms or partake in programming or events.

"West Palm Beach doesn't have a real social club," Grace said. "With the way people work today, they want to meet for coffee, work on their laptop, or have a business lunch. That's what we're trying to solve but it extends into wellness, too. We want to offer an amenity for people who care about wellness, care about work and care about fun."

Although neighboring Palm Beach is filled with private social clubs, West Palm Beach's stalwart private clubs disappeared nearly a decade ago when the Governors Club atop a tower at the Phillips Point office complex was turned into office space.

A similar fate killed off a host of private clubs that once occupied the top floor of the Northbridge Centre office tower.

A five-story hotel with a signature restaurant will be coming later

Nora's second stage will see the construction of a five-story hotel.

Between 175 and 200 rooms are planned for the hotel, which will be built on 4.5 acres between 10th and 11 streets, along North Railroad. The hotel will feature a signature restaurant and a 25,000-square-foot roof on the property's north side.

Richard Born and Ira Drukier of BD Hotels, along with acclaimed hotelier Sean MacPherson, are joining the Nora partnership to develop the hotel and hospitality district.

These hoteliers are behind some of New York City’s notable hotels including The Bowery, The Jane, The Ludlow and The Mercer. BD Hotels is the largest independent operator of hotels in New York.

Plans are in the works to also build a 600-unit apartment complex with both market and workforce housing rental rates, Grace said.

The goal is to start construction on the hotel and apartments in 2024, with the completion of both set for 2026.

Within three years, Nora won't just be a destination. "It will be a complete neighborhood," Grace said.

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