Michael T. Lynott and Laura Gangemi Vignola, with Greenberg Traurig
Michael T. Lynott and Laura Gangemi Vignola, with Greenberg Traurig ()

Two Greenberg Traurig attorneys helped a developer land a $32 million loan to build the first new office building in Miami’s Coconut Grove in nearly three decades.

Miami shareholders Laura Gangemi Vignola and Michael Lynott represented the Terra Group in securing funds for its Class A office project at 2860 Oak Ave.

Terra has partnered with Mayfair Real Estate Advisors to convert the 1980s-era parking garage at the site into 75,000 square feet of office space, street-level retail and public parking.

The legal duo helped arrange a construction loan from BB&T Bank, which will allow for an August groundbreaking.

Known as Mary Street, the office project is a novel commercial real estate venture in residential Coconut Grove.

“There wasn’t anything particularly unusual regarding the loan transaction,” Gangemi Vignola said. “The folks at Terra are very knowledgeable regarding the concerns and needs of lenders. They’re able to anticipate their requirements, which makes our job as counsel much easier.”

Gangemi Vignola and Lynott became involved as soon as the bank presented its commitment letter. She said the deal took only about a couple of months to close.

Greenberg Traurig has worked with Terra on several of its projects in the past, including its latest Grove at Grand Bay and Park Grove condominium developments in Coconut Grove.

Gangemi Vignola has also represented the developer on its Miami Beach ventures, a project in Doral and an expansive, mixed-use endeavor in Pembroke Pines.

Financing for new construction in South Florida has tightened up, especially for luxury condo towers, the lawyer said.

“It’s not as easy to arrange financing as it was in 2015 or last year,” Gangemi Vignola said.

But certain factors help make a lender more comfortable backing a project, such as the location and its unique characteristics. A well-known sponsor also helps.

“With that stricter lending environment, it’s important to work with folks like Terra who are prominent developers with a proven track record,” she said.

Coming in 2018

Berger Singerman also played a role in the transaction, aiding the development team in its effort to secure construction financing.

“As is typical in large-scale acquisitions throughout Florida, a coordination between the sponsor and limited partners was largely performed by their respective counsel,” said Miami partner Marc Shuster, who led the efforts. “For the sponsor, that meant Greenberg led the real property-level efforts for the refinance, while Berger Singerman, who represented the limited partners, navigated the joint venture and limited partnership concerns which were in play.”

Terra has successfully brought other real estate developments to life in Coconut Grove, one of Miami’s oldest residential enclaves. Now the group is leading a commercial resurgence in the market.

The mixed-use office development will be completed in late 2018, infusing Coconut Grove with fresh space for businesses looking for an expanding, creative Miami hub.

“Our ability to secure favorable construction financing for Mary Street speaks to the promising office market dynamics in Coconut Grove, the project’s superior location, and the surge of interest we’ve received among prospective tenants within months of unveiling our plans,” said David Martin, president and co-founder of Terra.

Mary Street’s amenities will include a modern lobby, 24-hour security, ample above-ground public and office parking, covered valet and drop-off areas, and dedicated elevators with direct office access. Electric car-charging stations, bicycle stations and bicycle storage will also be available.

The retail portion of the development will cater to chef-driven restaurants with cafe seating and unique stores.

“It was terrific working on the deal,” Gangemi Vignola said. “I’m excited to see the construction progress and see the end result. This is a very important project for the Grove.”

The Miami lawyer concentrates her practice on various areas of property law, which includes representing developers in the Southeast in acquisitions, developments, construction issues and financing. She has worked on a slew of real estate developments from multifamily projects to hotels to warehouses.

Lynott, whose focus lies on transactional real estate law, represents national and Florida-based property owners and tenants with office, industrial and retail leasing matters. He also helps clients acquire, finance and sell retail, office, industrial and rental product across the U.S.