Oscar Pedro Musibay
Reporter- South Florida Business Journal
February 27, 2013
It could be a game changing kind of loan – the $160 million bank financing of the ultra-luxury, 79-unit Mansions at Acqualina.
What it could mean is that banks have the same kind of confidence in the market that developers have had for more than a year. It could also be a signal that the door to speculative condo development is opening, making it possible for an accelerated rate of development at a higher volume than South Florida has seen in the current cycle.
So far, the condo market has targeted the luxury sector with boutique projects with few units. This could change all that, signaling that banks believe the buying pool is deep enough, giving developers confidence to propose and build bigger projects.
Regions Bank led the syndicated $160 million Acqualina deal with a group that included Israel Discount Bank of New York’s Miami office, SunTrust Bank, Sabadell United Bank N.A. and Mercantil Commercebank N.A.
Thomas Angelo, CEO of Angelo & Banta PA, represented Regions. He said part of the money was used to pay off $19 million in debt tied to the land.
For Angelo, financing the 47-story project made sense because of the track record of the developer, Jules and Eddie Trump. The pair behind The Trump Group built the first phase of the project called Acqualina Resort & Spa and Aventura’s Williams Island development.
Angelo said the market is also showing signs of being deep enough that it can sustain continued development.
“It speaks to very strong sales, to the very high-end kind of product available, and to the strength of the market overall,” he said.
The reality is that Miami has become a draw on a wider spectrum for a lot of foreign buyers, said Dora Puig, principal of PuigWerner Real Estate Services, which has recorded some of the biggest sales in the luxury market and has marketed Bruce Eichner’s penthouse at Miami Beach’s Continuum for sale at $39 million. It’s not only foreigners looking to plant their money in Miami, but also wealthy U.S. residents who look to Florida’s lack of state taxes as an oasis, she said.
“Look at how many new project launches there are,” Puig said. “Look at The Related Group’s One Ocean [below Fifth Street on South Beach]. Those are dry lots [located about a block off of the ocean] that are getting higher prices than on the water.”
Sales at Acqualina have been strong. In the spring of 2012, two buyers each paid $16 million cash for 8,000-square-foot penthouses at the property.
The Mansions tower will rise beside the 247-unit Acqualina, at 178th Street and Collins Avenue in Sunny Isles Beach. With units starting at about 4,000 square feet and priced from $6 million to $7.8 million, the Mansions tower broke ground in August 2012 and is to be completed in early 2015.