Fred Welker III, senior vice president with Thomas D. Wood and Co. in Fort Lauderdale.

An office building under construction in downtown Fort Lauderdale is expected to be a big hit with attorneys, especially since it’s within walking distance of the new Broward County Courthouse.

“There’s a long list of prospective attorneys who want to have their firm right next to the courthouse as well as restaurants,”  Fred Welker III said. ”The location is ideal.”

Welker, senior vice president of Thomas D. Wood and Co., secured a $32.5 million construction loan for the 550 Building, which will rise at 550 S. Andrews Ave.

Blackhawk Properties & Investments LLC, based in Plantation, is building the seven-story office and retail project and adjoining parking garage.

Welker, who is based in Fort Lauderdale, represented Blackhawk in securing the construction loan, which covers 70 percent of the $46.4 million construction cost, from Fifth Third Bank. The deal closed May 11.

The 550 Building will rise on 1.5 acres northeast of South Andrews Avenue and Sixth Street. That’s  west of the 20-story courthouse, which opened in March 2017. The building also is across the street from a Publix supermarket.

The location is expected to generate a healthy appetite from office and retail tenants. Already, about 20 percent of the project is under signed letters of intent, according to Thomas D. Wood and Co.

But it’s not just the location that make this project attractive. The project boasts a 664-spot garage, which is double the number of required spaces than required and will be open to the public, Wlker said. That’s significant in a neighborhood where parking is scarce but demand is high.

The developer had another significant advantage in obtaining the loan. There was no pre-lease requirement, Welker said.

“Most of your lenders today require some signed leases of tenants in the building before they commit to a loan,” he said. “In this particular case, they didn’t require any leases. It’s a combination of the experience of the borrower and the financial strength of the borrower, the location of the property and its proximity to the brand new Broward County Courthouse.”

Several lenders were interested, but the borrower and Welker in the end went with Fifth Third Bank, Welker said.

“We had a number of lenders who wanted to do the loan but all of them required pre-leasing, he said.

The secured financing is a three-year loan. Welker declined to disclose the rate.

The building will have 99,466 square feet of space, including 14,000 square feet of ground-floor space for restaurants and other retail. Construction of the 550 Building is expected to finish next spring.

The loan deal breaks down to $326.70 per square foot of office and retail space.

Blackhawk, led by principals William Murphy and Kate Murphy, paid $3.6 million for the site in 2013. The Justice Building built in 1982 was previously on the site but has been demolished.

Miami-based Thomas D. Wood and Co. is a privately held real estate investment bank specializing in Florida’s commercial and multifamily real estate capital markets.