Holland & Knight partner Elena Otero in Miami closed an $85 million loan for a new apartment project that’s rising near a Metromover station.
This is another project that reflects the growth of transit-oriented developments across South Florida, with residential and commercial complexes near public transit stops allowing residents to use trains or buses to get to work rather than personal vehicles.
“People are really looking for that right now. Nobody wants to be in their car and away from their families for two to three hours a day,” Otero said.
Miami-based Ocean Bank issued the construction loan to The Melo Group, which is developing the two-tower, 34-story, 667-unit Art Plaza apartments at 58 NE 14th St., within walking distance of the School Board Metromover station on Northeast 15th Street in Miami.
Otero represented the bank and closed the deal May 31.
Shutts & Bowen partner Florentino Gonzalez in Miami represented The Melo Group.
The developer and bank already have a longstanding relationship, which made for a relatively smooth deal, Otero said.
In the current real estate climate, lenders are cautious when it comes to multifamily loans, likely a reflection of the rapid rise of residential towers and plans for more.
But this deal was in a way immune in part thanks to its proximity to a commuter rail stop.
“I think that multifamily that distinguishes itself such as this project, that’s close to amenities that allow people to get in easily to downtown, I think that’s a game changer,” Otero said.
The parties declined to disclose the total construction cost.
The Melo Group — the family-owned real estate development firm led by Armando Ferreira de Melo, who started the company in his native Argentina and expanded to Miami with sons Carlos Melo and Martin Melo — has completed and is building multiple residential projects close to the urban core.
In May, the company finished the 53-story, 648-unit Aria on the Bay luxury condominium at 1770 N. Bayshore Drive north of downtown Miami.
The completion marked the 14th residential tower developed by The Melo Group in downtown Miami and surrounding neighborhoods over the past 10 years.
Other projects include the 22 Skyview apartment tower at 425 NE 22nd St. in Edgewater and the 36-story Melody apartment tower at 245 NE 14th St. across from the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts.
Art Plaza is being constructed across the street from the recently finished Square Station, another two-tower, 34-story residential development that, like Art Plaza, is transit-oriented. The 710-unit Square Station at 1424 NE Miami Place also is within walking distance of the School Board station.
“It helps any underwriting if your project has concepts like that because obviously they always look at traffic patterns and whom your market is going to be, and I think transit-oriented and close to those areas where there’s already a lot of apartments, I think that can only help,” Otero said. “Obviously, The Melo Group is a great borrower for many other reasons.”
Art Plaza will have street-level stores and restaurants as well as amenities for residents including a swimming pool, Jacuzzi, gym and valet.
Rental rates have not been announced but are expected to be in the same range as Square Station and Melody. Rent for a one-bedroom apartment at Square Station and Melody starts at $1,650 a month.
Art Plaza construction is scheduled to finish in mid-2019.