BY LAUREN FISHER | THE PALM BEACH POST | JULY 9, 2019
Century-old structure transformed into sleek business spaces
LAKE WORTH BEACH — The Hummingbird Hotel is looking a bit different these days.
In fact, the historic structure has taken on a new identity. Like many aspects of Lake Worth Beach, it’s changing with the times. And after a grueling renovation, it’s been reborn as Emerge LW, a 23-space office building with amenities fit for the modern professional.
“We wanted to offer cool stuff — stuff that you see in New York,” co-owner Ray Maranges said. “And stuff that you normally don’t see in South Florida, and certainly don’t see in Lake Worth. And we do it at a very competitive price compared to anybody.”
Still, relics of the hotel’s past remain. The tables in the office lounge are made from salvaged pieces of Dade County pine, a prized, hardy lumber that once fortified the Hummingbird.
The blueprints for the structure lean against the wall in the lounge, nestled in a terra cotta block the builders found in a pile of sand. These blocks, typical of many 1920s-era structures in South Florida, were reinforced with concrete during the renovation.
But transforming the nearly 100-year-old hotel into a collection of sleek, modern office spaces was no easy undertaking.
“Everything was a challenge,” Maranges said. “There was nothing salvageable in here.”
Maranges and his building partner, Richard Cruz, acquired the property in 2017 for $500,000. The previous owner floated the idea of adding another floor and putting in a rooftop pool, but ended up gutting the building and leaving it vacant for years.
It was a “nightmare” when the Hummingbird Partners first moved in, Maranges said.
Because of the building’s historical designation, there was little they could change on the exterior, aside from a fresh coat of paint and updated signage. However, they melded the old with the new every chance they got. With its narrow hallways and close quarters, the building can’t help feeling a bit like a hotel. Tenants even swipe into their suites using electronic key cards.
Rents range from $950 to $1,600 per month, and are all-inclusive, covering everything from utilities and reception service to “all the coffee you can drink.” Each suite comes with simple, contemporary furnishings — much different than a traditional cherry walnut desk, Maranges said.
Eight tenants have moved in since the building opened in mid-April, and Maranges said they’ve been renting out spaces quicker than they projected. Most recently, they signed RE/MAX, which occupies three spaces.
“We looked at the competition, if you will, for this type of product,” Maranges said. “And we looked from south county to north county, and we realized there was a swath of area that was not covered. And we thought that we could use this building for that. ” Emerge LW also offers “virtual office” plans for professionals who work from home but need occasional office amenities, such as a business mailing address or access to a conference room. Prices for those virtual offices range from $49 to $225 per month.
The building’s location, Maranges said, offers several advantages. Tenants have all the perks of living in downtown Lake Worth Beach, they’re close to Interstate 95 and the beach. And because Maranges and Cruz use Emerge LW as their own office space as well, management is on-site.
“We really are big on service, ” Maranges said. “We want to be in a position to help any of our clients with any of their needs. Whether it’s included in the lease or not, we can help.”
Cruz, who mostly works with multi-family properties, jumped at the opportunity to get in on the ground-floor at Emerge LW. Today, he’s still managing properties, but comes to the office each day to be part of the environment.
“This project was something different,” he said. “Something fresh, new and challenging, to remodel this building. So getting into this was fun. Running this building is fun. Coming here is fun. It’s a good feeling.”