26 Nov EXCLUSIVE: Modica pays $8.3 million for Jupiter’s Rustic Inn site
Rustic Inn site is next to Modica’s Love Street parcel, where he plans to build shops, restaurants and offices.
Jupiter land mogul Charles Modica on Friday snapped up The Rustic Inn Crabhouse property for $8.3 million, more than doubling Modica’s land holdings on this section of A1A along the Jupiter Inlet.
The 3.7-acre Rustic Inn site, at 1065 State Road A1A, is just west of Modica’s 2-acre parcel on Love Street. There, Modica wants to build an outdoor marketplace featuring restaurants, offices and shops. The $30 million, 50,000-square-foot project has been three years in the making.
The project has been scaled back in size because of residents’ complaints about traffic and parking. But some residents still oppose development of the land.
For now, The Rustic Inn Crabhouse will continue to operate, Modica said in a brief interview Monday.
The Hobe Sound resident referred questions about future site plans to his attorney, Philippe Jeck, of Juno Beach. Jeck did not return a phone call or emails seeking comment.
+EXCLUSIVE: Modica pays $8.3 million for Jupiter’s Rustic Inn site photo
The view of the Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse from the Rustic Inn. (Photo by Liz Balmaseda)
The seller of The Rustic Inn Crabhouse property was the parent company of The Rustic Inn itself.
Ark Restaurants Corp. of New York is a publicly traded company that also owns the original Rustic Inn in Fort Lauderdale. The Rustic Inn Crabhouse is famous for its garlic crabs.
Ark bought the land for $5.2 million on Friday and then immediately flipped the site to Modica, earning Ark a cool $3 million in one day, according to Jeff Sussman, a Boca Raton restaurant broker who engineered the deal.
In its 2014 lease for the Jupiter site, Ark had a right of first refusal to buy the property if it was to be sold, Sussman said. The property went up for sale this summer, prompting Ark to exercise its right.
Bob Stewart, president of Ark Restaurant Corp., declined to comment Monday.
But a U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission filing confirmed the two transactions.
In addition to being a lucrative flip for Ark, the deal is a coup for Modica.
Modica now controls even more prime waterfront land along the Jupiter Inlet. Modica also owns the 10-acre Suni Sands mobile home park at 961 A1A, east of both Love Street and The Rustic Inn. Modica wants to build a “historic” inn and marketplace there.
Adding The Rustic Inn land to the adjacent Love Street parcel gives Modica greater flexibility in how he can develop the site, Sussman said.
In fact, Ark had wanted to buy the Jupiter property when it leased the former Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. two years ago, said Sussman, who handled the original lease.
But then-owner CNL APF Partners LP, an affiliate of GE Capital, wouldn’t sell because the Jupiter property was part of a larger real estate portfolio.
This summer, CNL sold the portfolio to SCFRC HW G LLC, which is affiliated with Stonebriar Commercial Finance of Plano, Texas. A Stonebriar official couldn’t be reached for comment.
SCFRC recorded the value of this property at $4.5 million, according to county property records. SCFRC then struck a deal to sell The Rustic Inn Crabhouse site to a Miami-based holding company for $5.2 million, Sussman said.
Both prices are well below the $8.4 million assessed value determined by the Palm Beach County Property Appraiser.
After Ark learned of the pending sale to the Miami firm, it notified SCFRC it had the right to buy the land at the same price. Sussman immediately began shopping the property for sale.
Other suitors were approached, but Modica was the obvious choice, Sussman said.
By Alexandra Clough – Palm Beach Post Staff Writer