PALM BEACH GARDENS — A long-empty site that was once the home of Panama Hattie’s Seafood House and Rum Bar off PGA Boulevard is slated to become nearly 100 waterfront condominiums.
Involved in the plan are two well-known figures in Northern Palm Beach County’s development scene: Prolific builder Dan Catalfumo and Harbourside Place developer Nicholas Mastroianni III.
Catalfumo said his company has purchased the former Panama Hattie’s site from Mastroianni and added four parcels directly south to bring the total property size to 11 acres.
That sale is not yet reflected in public records, but Catalfumo said he’s moving forward “full throttle” with his plan for 96 waterfront condominiums and a 23-slip marina.
Three, eight-story luxury condo buildings will sit on the site if the application is approved. All the condos will be three- and four-bedroom units, according to the plans.
The project’s name will be PGA Waterfront.
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Past tension over Panama Hattie’s site
The project site, technically located in unincorporated Palm Beach County, has seen its fair share of drama since Panama Hattie’s closed in fall 2014.
Mastroianni faced criticism from neighbors and community members for demolishing the restaurant, and within two years, Palm Beach Gardens sued Palm Beach County over its approval for 70 condos originally submitted by Mastroianni.
The city argued the county denied officials their rights by publishing an inadequate meeting notice and limiting speaking time when deliberating on zoning changes.
City staff also wanted assurances that the site would have a designated right-turn lane for drivers headed east. They aired concerns about access for Palm Beach Gardens Fire Rescue.
Palm Beach County Fire Rescue would be the first to respond to an emergency at the future condos, but the Gardens’ Station 62 is next in line to respond, The Palm Beach Post reported.
In 2016, a circuit court judge declined to review a lower court’s ruling in favor of the county’s case for the condominiums.
But shortly after that resolution in 2018, Mastroianni and his father became embroiled in the first of two lawsuits from Chinese EB-5 investors involved in the Harbourside Place project. Investors accused Mastroianni of defrauding them of thousands of dollars.
In the meantime, the Panama Hattie’s site sat empty.
But in 2019, Catalfumo came back onto the real estate development scene when he and partner Bob Rawe bought the PGA Station site, just east of Interstate 95 and south of PGA Boulevard. Catalfumo got approval last week for nearly 400 apartments and an eight-story office building on that site.
For now, the PGA Waterfront condominium plan is in the early stages. A Nov. 9 development review meeting where the plan was slated for review by Palm Beach County was canceled.