L-R Joseph Traina Jr. is principal and president of The Traina Cos., and Gregory Freedman is co-founder and principal of BH3. Courtesy photo

Fort Lauderdale’s mixed-use FATCity project is a step closer to fruition after development company BH3 bought into the downtown site for $23.125 million.

BH3, based in Aventura, through an affiliate bought a stake in the 2.8-acre site between Northeast Third and Fourth streets east of Andrews Avenue from an affiliate of The Traina Cos., a New York and Delray Beach-based holding group.

Traina assembled the site, retained an undisclosed ownership interest and entered into a joint venture making BH3 the master developer and Traina staying on as co-developer. The deal closed Jan. 25.

FATCity, short for Florida Arts and Technology City, speaks to the growth of South Florida urban cores as live-work-play areas. It also showcases the push for more connectivity through public transportation with the location less than a half mile from the Brightline station.

The city in 2017 greenlighted maximum development thresholds for FATCity. The project could add up to 1.35 million square feet with up to 612 apartments, 85,000 square feet of retail and 270,000 square feet of commercial space including offices. More than 1,300 parking spots are in the works.

FATCity will provide much needed new office space in downtown, said Greg Freedman, who co-founded BH3 with fellow principal Daniel Lebensohn.

“We believe that there’s pent up demand for that office space, not only from existing tenants or tenants who want to relocate from the suburbs into the urban core but also for those more creative tenants,” Freedman said.

Office tenants will be able to pull talent only from the immediate area or anywhere in South Florida with the nearby Brightline station, Freedman said. The train connects downtown Miami, Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach.

“If they are located in Plantation and Weston, they can only pull potential employees from a 25- to 30-mile radius. Whereas if they are in the urban core, they can now pull employees from the tri-county area,” he said.

Traina, led by father-son principals Joseph Traina Sr. and Joseph Traina Jr., was attracted to South Florida in large part because of Brightline and settled on Fort Lauderdale for its project for being “in the middle,” Traina Jr. said.

“All interests pushing toward the center, so to speak,” he said. “And Fort Lauderdale by history has not had the massive development phases that Miami and West Palm had but now is poised to really grow. … This is where South Florida is going to see the most development and the most activity, I would believe.”

Traina was looking for a development partner that’s locally minded yet nationally capable, Traina Jr. said. It found this blend in BH3.

“They had the most appropriate blend of that local knowledge,” he said. “They had the recent experience of some very large scale development projects completed 100 percent successfully.”

BH3′s projects include the luxury twin-tower Prive at Island Estates in Aventura.