Parkland charter school scores $15M in EB-5-backed financing

Academica bought the property for $5M in 2016

Aug.August 27, 2019 01:30 PM
Academica founder Fernando Zulueta and rendering of Somerset Academy Parkland  (Credit: Blue Ridge Rendering)

Academica founder Fernando Zulueta and rendering of Somerset Academy Parkland (Credit: Blue Ridge Rendering)

Academica scored $15 million in EB-5-backed construction financing to start building a new charter school in Parkland.

The Miami-based charter school company secured the loan from Jupiter-based GreenAccess to build a school on a 9.9-acre vacant lot at 8401 University Drive. The loan is backed by investors who are part of the federal EB-5 program, which gives immigrants a visa in exchange for an investment in American businesses.

Academica bought the property for $5 million in 2016, records show. It sits at the intersection of University Drive and Hillsboro Boulevard.

The school will be called Somerset Academy Parkland and is set to open in the fall of 2020, according to its website. The school was approved by the Parkland City Commission last September for up to 1,000 students and faced backlash from community members over concerns about traffic.

Charter school sites in South Florida are in high demand from investors and developers as interest in the non-traditional schools grows and the amount of properties zoned for charter schools to operate is limited.

Academica is one of the largest charter school companies in South Florida. Founded in 1999, the company operates as an education service provider, which means it owns the property and provides back office support to charter schools.

In August 2018, Academica paid $10 million for sites owned by First Presbyterian Church of Coral Springs to build the Somerset Riverside Charter School.

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