Panama Hattie’s transformed: Developer Dan Catalfumo puts on the Ritz

Intracoastal Waterway site to be home to 106 condos priced as high as $7.2 million; and now it sports a Palm Beach Gardens address.

Dan Catalfumo

Recessed LED lighting casts a warm glow on the cream-colored porcelain flooring. Earth tones dominate the walls, sofas and chairs.

Step into the rarefied air of the newest condo project rising in north county and designers hope you’ll feel as if you’re entering an upscale living room.

But this Ritz-Carlton Residences Palm Beach Gardens — 106 condos to be built at the former Panama Hattie’s site — is more resort hotel than condo commons.

NOTE: This story also is being published today on Stet, a new weekly newsletter covering Palm Beach County. Joel Engelhardt is one of three founding partners at Stet, which aims to provide news and context you won’t find anywhere else. To get the Stet newsletter delivered straight to your inbox, click here: Once you get there, we’ll even explain what Stet is.

A resident heading to the infinity-edged swimming pool can pause at the Ritz-managed event kitchen, liquor bar, coffee bar, library and game room or take a shot outdoors on the practice putting green. Get tired of lounging and head over to the fitness studio or drop by the relaxation room at the wellness spa.

There’s an outdoor pickleball court, a waterfront fire pit and a dog park. A few of the 29 marina berths on the Intracoastal Waterway will be available to the public but most will be reserved for residents. 

Panama Hattie's
Then: The rickety old dock, in October 2021, at the long vacant Panama Hattie’s site. (Joel Engelhardt photo)
Now: The new sea wall and 11-acre future home of the Ritz-Carlton Residences Palm Beach Gardens, as of Feb. 10, 2023. (Joel Engelhardt photo)

This is developer Dan Catalfumo’s transformation of the Panama Hattie’s restaurant and rum bar, torn down in 2014 and the subject of one previous failed development attempt.

Catalfumo shelled out $33 million for the property in 2021 and another $11.75 million to expand the site by 2 acres to the south. He financed the moves with $34 million in loans

In August 2022, he spent another $14.2 million to take sole control of the marina from the original developer, a company headed by Nicholas Mastroianni II, developer of Jupiter’s Harbourside. 

Then he struck a deal with luxury hotel brand Ritz-Carlton, which will manage everything except the marina. Catalfumo, who will retain control of the marina, developed the 2700 North Ocean condo towers on Singer Island, which Ritz-Carlton began managing in 2010.

The Palm Beach Gardens Residences qualified for Ritz management as “estate residences,” with none of the 10 models clocking in at less than 2,700 square feet.  

Gardens approves annexation, eight more condos

Panama Hatties

Catalfumo ushered his plan through the Palm Beach County Commission, increasing the previous project’s 70 units to 98. He demolished the rickety wooden dock dating to Panama Hattie’s days and chopped off 45 feet of land to expand the marina, making space for 75-foot yachts.

All along he promised Palm Beach Gardens something it wanted very much: For the property facing the Waterway Cafe to be annexed into the city.

It all came together Jan. 12, with the city annexing the 11 acres.

“A man’s word is a man’s word,” Catalfumo told the City Council. “We shook hands and said we were coming in and we have.”

Less than a month later, the City Council approved another eight condos, raising the total to 106. The council allowed the three residential buildings, all perched above a two-deck parking garage, to reach seven stories.

A city staff report concluded the eight extra condos “will have minimal impact on the surrounding traffic network above what was approved and mitigated through the county.”

The site will offer 394 parking spaces, including 367 in the two-deck garage underneath the buildings. 

Residents opposing the original project worried about traffic backups tied to openings of the PGA Boulevard drawbridge. A southbound right-turn lane and northbound left-turn lane must be built on Ellison Wilson Road at the site driveway but no added lanes are required at PGA Boulevard.

Catalfumo Companies
Workers pour sea wall at Ritz-Carlton Residences Palm Beach Gardens. (Screenshot from Catalfumo Cos. video)

5,000-square-foot condo tops $7 million

The new sea wall is in place and excavation on the sharply sloping site is expected to begin this year, with completion slated for summer 2025.

The slope runs from 31 feet at Ellison Wilson Road to about 5 feet at the Intracoastal. That means first-floor units are 19 feet above the Intracoastal and condos from the fifth floor and up get a glimpse of the ocean, 1.5 miles to the east. 

What construction will bring is condos priced from $4.2 million to $7.2 million, with the largest, a five-bedroom, 4½-bath option topping 5,000 square feet. That could mean a half-billion-dollar boost to the city’s property tax base.

Buyers can kick the porcelain tires and check out the Sub-Zero refrigerator and wall-mounted floating vanities at a full-size bedroom, bathroom and kitchen on display at the sales gallery. Agents from Douglas Elliman walk buyers through the property using a full-scale model and wall-sized screen synched to an iPad. 

The sales gallery at 4001 Design Center Drive, next to Catalfumo Cos. headquarters at PGA Station, has its grand opening on Feb. 16.

Catalfumo promises to rely on local labor, with 80-85 percent of the 300 to 400 construction jobs going to residents of Palm Beach County. 

Architects SpinaOrourke + Partners of West Palm Beach and landscape architects 2GHO of Jupiter are both local. Suffolk Construction, a national company with offices in West Palm Beach, will be the general contractor. Interior designs are being handled by The Decorators Unlimited of Palm Beach Gardens.

NOTE: This story also is being published today on Stet, a new weekly newsletter covering Palm Beach County. Joel Engelhardt is one of three founding partners at Stet, which aims to provide news and context you won’t find anywhere else. To get the Stet newsletter delivered straight to your inbox, click here: Once you get there, we’ll even explain what Stet is.

© 2023 Joel Engelhardt. All rights reserved.

Author: Joel Engelhardt

Joel Engelhardt is an award-winning newspaper reporter and editor based in Palm Beach Gardens. He spent more than 40 years in the newspaper business, including 28 years at The Palm Beach Post. As a reporter, he covered countywide growth, the 2000 election and the birth of Cityplace in West Palm Beach. As an editor, he oversaw probes into the opioid scourge, private prisons, police-involved shootings and more. For seven years, he worked on the paper’s editorial board. Joel left The Post in December 2020. He and his wife, Donna, have lived together in Palm Beach Gardens since 1992.

2 thoughts on “Panama Hattie’s transformed: Developer Dan Catalfumo puts on the Ritz”

  1. This development is nothing to be proud of. Again, Catafumo becomes part of turning Palm Beach Gardens into “little Miami”. The lost wild life, more traffic and disappearing land all for the almighty buck. When will it be enough?!

  2. Horrible planning! So much traffic there already! Plus, Panama Hattie’s and Rum Bar were amazing local landmarks! Something low key and similar should be there!

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