Sources confirm that Citadel employees will work at the former Neiman Marcus building on Worth Ave., with Griffin relocating the bulk of his Chicago financial empire to Miami.
Billionaire hedge-fund manager Ken Griffin is planning to open a satellite office of his Citadel financial empire in Palm Beach on an upper floor of the former Neiman Marcus building on Worth Avenue, sources familiar with the plans have confirmed for the Palm Beach Daily News. Griffin already owns the largest estate in Palm Beach.
Griffin spokesman Zia Ahmed declined to comment on the planned office, and the timeframe for opening it remains unclear.
Plans for the Worth Avenue building were first reported Thursday by Bloomberg, which said the office would house Citadel employees who live in Palm Beach. The Palm Beach Daily News confirmed the Bloomberg report.
The building at 151 Worth Ave. changed hands, vacant, in early May for a recorded $78 million. But sources say Griffin will not be using the office personally. He instead is relocating his Chicago-based financial business to downtown Miami. He also has moved his family there, although he maintains ownership of his 25-acre estate on the South End of Palm Beach. Griffin assembled the Palm Beach estate over nearly seven years at a cost topping $450 million and recently won the town’s approval to build a mansion for his mother there.
Griffin’s Citadel Securities had Florida operations in Palm Beach during pandemic
The Worth Avenue office would likely house employees of the hedge-fund company Citadel and Citadel Securities, Griffin’s other financial firm, sources confirmed. During the coronavirus pandemic, Griffin operated a temporary Palm Beach trading floor for Citadel Securities by leasing out the Four Seasons Palm Beach Ocean Resort for a year beginning in April 2020.
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Building changed hands in May: Former Neiman Marcus building sells for $78 million in Palm Beach, deed shows
When the Neiman Marcus building sold via a deed recorded May 6, the talk in Palm Beach real estate circles was that Griffin was tied to the deal, but the Palm Beach Daily News has been unable to confirm if he has an ownership stake in the property.
The deed shows a Delaware-registered limited liability company, 151 Worth Holding LLC, bought the building, which had been empty since Neiman Marcus closed the department store in September 2020. Public records link 151 Worth Holding LLC to a man named Jeffrey Camp, whom the Palm Beach Daily News has been unable to reach for comment. Because of Delaware’s strict corporate privacy laws, no other information about the buyer’s side of the sale has been readily available in public records.
With an underground parking garage the three-story building has 48,578 square feet of space. It occupies a lot of about an acre in the ocean block of the Avenue.
The seller in May was Wilson 151 Worth LLC, a Delaware company managed by O’Connor Real Estate Advisors LLC. Those entities are affiliated with New York City-based O’Connor Capital Partners, a real estate investment, development and management firm. The O’Connor companies also have an office in Palm Beach.
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William O’Connor, CEO of O’Connor Capital Partners and O’Connor Group, said at the time said confidentiality agreements prevented him from discussing the buyer or details of the transaction. The sale included a vacant lot behind the building at 151 Peruvian Ave.
“We had a variety of groups looking at (the building) for a variety of uses,” he said when the building sold.
Bloomberg reported Thursday that plans for the building include a restaurant and storefronts on the ground floor.
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The O’Connor-affiliated company bought the building and empty lot for a recorded $40 million in 2014. That sale was recorded simultaneously with the company’s $106 million purchase of the shopping plaza across the street — today known as The Esplanade — at 150 Worth Ave.
Late last month, Griffin earned the Palm Beach Architectural Commission’s approval for the design of an oceanfront mansion he plans to build for his mother, Catherine Gratz Griffin, and guests on about 8 acres of his sea-to-lake estate. The property off South Ocean Boulevard is about a mile south of former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago club.
On Wednesday, the Palm Beach Town Council approved the location of a 500-kilowatt generator on the north west side of the estate during a site-plan review of the property.
Griffin’s net worth is estimated by Forbes at $25.4 billion. He was born in Daytona Beach and attended high school in Boca Raton. In 2018, he became the lead donor for the Norton Museum of Art’s expansion project after making a $20 million donation to the institution in West Palm Beach.
This is a developing story. Check back for updates.
Darrell Hofheinz is a USA TODAY Network of Florida journalist who writes about Palm Beach real estate in his weekly “Beyond the Hedges” column. He welcomes tips about real estate news on the island. Email firstname.lastname@example.org, call (561) 820-3831 or tweet @PBDN_Hofheinz. Help support our journalism. Subscribe today.