Driftwood scores $16M construction loan for Doral hotel, including EB-5 funding

Rendering of the Doral DoubleTree by Hilton
Rendering of the Doral DoubleTree by Hilton

With construction well underway at their Hilton-branded hotel in Doral, partners Driftwood Hospitality Management and American Opportunity Regional Center just secured a $16 million loan to help finance the project, including $10 million from EB-5 investors.

County records show the loan was sourced both from an affiliate of Miami’s BridgeInvest and American Opportunity, which facilitates EB-5 investments from foreign nationals.

The developers broke ground on their 150-room hotel in July at 10250 Northwest 19th Street, across the street from the Miami International Mall. It’s slated to be a DoubleTree by Hilton, with an amenities package including three meeting rooms, two full-service bars, a pool, fitness center and a restaurant. Driftood and American Opportunity said in a release that they expect the project to wrap up by summer 2017. The project’s total value is roughly $26 million, the release stated.

According to property records, the two bought the vacant 2.8-acre site for $3.44 million in January of this year.

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This financing deal is another sign that the EB-5 visa program, though controversial, is becoming a more mainstream option for real estate loans in South Florida.

Some of its more frequent uses in the region have so far been funding the speculative development of charter schools and hotels, though Jeff Berkowitz has also been an ardent defender of the program and its role in his planned SkyRise Miami observation tower.

Under the EB-5 program, foreign nationals invest a minimum of $500,000 per person in a job-creating venture in exchange for a conditional visa that’s valid for two years. EB-5 was set to expire this year but was extended by Congress until Dec. 9, and is expected to be extended again.