Not stopping for the pandemic: Fortune, Château could launch Sunny Isles project by year-end

Defortuna is looking to develop in west coast markets like Tampa and Naples

Edgardo Defortuna and a rendering of La Playa de Varadero
Edgardo Defortuna and a rendering of La Playa de Varadero

Developer Edgardo Defortuna could launch sales of an oceanfront project in Sunny Isles Beach by the end of 2020, despite the pandemic.

Defortuna, president and CEO of Fortune International Group, is partnering with Château Group on the La Playa de Varadero condo development at 18801 Collins Avenue, which has been in the works for years.

Defortuna said there will be opportunities to launch some “well-positioned projects” possibly before the end of the year “just to capture the momentum of the pent-up demand that may be coming.”

La Playa de Varadero is zoned for two 56-story condo towers with 490 residential units and 1.15 million square feet. Defortuna said the developers could take advantage of reduced construction costs, which would bring unit prices down.

Fortune is also on the hunt for land, looking for waterfront sites in Miami, Palm Beach, Naples and Tampa, he said. The company is in talk with funds and financial institutions to deploy capital.

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“We did that very, very effectively in the past crisis,” Defortuna said. “I think our source of capital is such that if the opportunity is right – either through private investors or some of the funds – the money wouldn’t be the bigger issue. The issue is finding the right opportunity.”

The Miami-based firm has offered letters of intent for a couple of properties on the west coast of Florida, but Defortuna said both sellers and Fortune “want to see what the world is like in a couple of months.” Both projects would be residential, including a condo building in the Tampa Bay market and another development in Naples.

During the pandemic, Fortune and its partner Château closed the majority of units that were presold at the Ritz-Carlton Residences, Sunny Isles Beach, and paid off a $212 million construction loan from Bank OZK for that project.

Fortune’s general brokerage business has fallen about 30 percent year-over-year, a smaller drop than expected, he said, due to coronavirus. But Defortuna said he’s a “firm believer things will get back to normal in a relatively short period of time.”

“You really can’t expect to steal anything,” he added. “No one is going to give anything away.”