Coral Reef View
Coral Reef View ()

A Palm Beach Gardens-based developer wrapped a sprawling land deal that clears the way for a $120 million mixed-used project on a site once planned for a satellite campus of the University of Miami just west of Zoo Miami.

Ram Realty Services LLC is at work on Coral Reef with 900 apartments and 300,000 square feet of retail.

The investment management firm said it closed Monday on the $22.1 million purchase of 80 acres from the private university, which selected Ram from a group of competitive bidders looking to develop the property.

Ram also secured $120 million from Wells Fargo to finance the project, which will grow in multiple stages to reach 125 acres.

The land sale on Coral Reef Drive, or Southwest 152nd Street, has been years in the making.

It dates back nearly three years to Aug. 1, 2011, when Ram signed a purchase agreement with the university and began the zoning and permitting process. With most of the permits now in hand, the company said it’s ready to start work on Coral Reef’s first phase and break ground on Mareas, a residential community of 600 garden apartments.

Phase one will include 250,000 square feet of retail and restaurants, plus 408 apartments and a 10,000-square-foot clubhouse on 18 acres.

A second phase will add 192 apartments in Mareas, and later phases will add 300 units across the street.

Ram said retailers responded quickly to the project, pre-leasing more than 90 percent of phase one.

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. is set to anchor the retail component with a 158,500-square-foot super center, while Fitness International LLC’s LA Fitness, Panera Bread Co., Chili’s restaurant and CFA Properties Inc.’s Chick-fil-A are set to execute leases.

A second phase of development would add 50,000 square feet of retail, and bring regional and national tenants to the project, Ram said.

“Our residents will be able to shop, choose from among a diverse group of popular restaurants and enjoy recreational opportunities, all with a reduced reliance on the automobile,” said Ram vice president Hugo Pacanins, the developer in charge of the project. “With over 30 percent of the land dedicated as preserve areas, we will offer a unique combination of quiet and convenience, all in one location.”

The project is the latest for Ram, an affiliated group of companies and partnerships that acquire, develop, manage and finance retail and residential properties across the southeastern U.S.

The 36-year-old company also is building 208 apartments and 18,000 square feet of retail space in downtown Boca Raton and converting the historic Southern Bell building in West Palm Beach to 85 residential lofts.