Here are South Florida’s top construction loans of the past year

Biggest 10 loans issued between January 2022 and January of this year totaled $2B

Suzanne Amaducci-Adams, Len Blavatnik, George Gleason, Josh Zegen, and Russell Galbut with the Miami Skyline
Suzanne Amaducci-Adams, Len Blavatnik, George Gleason, Josh Zegen, and Russell Galbut (LinkedIn, Facebook/Bilzin Sumberg, Getty, Wikipedia, Bank OZK)

Despite construction financing becoming tougher and more expensive to secure in major markets nationwide, South Florida developers are managing to close monster deals.

The top 10 construction loans issued between January 2022 and January of this year in South Florida totaled $2 billion, according to The Real Deal’s analysis of such financing provided to developers in Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties. The loans are for condominium, multifamily, industrial and mixed-use developments, and most were for projects in Miami-Dade County.


Top lenders included Bank OZK, Fortress Investment Group and Wells Fargo.

Amid the tight lending environment nationwide, many big banks — though not all — have pulled back significantly, leaving an opportunity for alternative lenders and even community banks, sources said.

“No matter what, there’s limited capital from banks. As banks have lost deposits, their ability to lend has become curtailed,” said Josh Zegen, managing principal of Madison Realty Capital. “Florida is seeing a lot of that too, even though the market is stronger. There is just less money out there and the cost of capital has gone up.”

Still, Zegen and others said they plan to continue providing construction loans and other types of financing this year. New York-based Madison, which issued three $50 million-plus construction loans in South Florida last year, could lend between $3 billion and $6.5 billion this year across its markets. (It completed $3 billion in deal volume in 2022, and $6.4 billion in 2021.)

“We have a substantial amount of capital,” Zegen said. “A lot of our peers don’t have capital today.”

Rising interest rates on construction financing are forcing some developers to borrow less money. Developers have also been challenged by soaring construction costs — and construction delays. Presales at condo projects have also begun to slow.

Zegen said Madison is “underwriting with the view that things are not getting better anytime soon.” And because banks have pulled back on lending, Madison is “taking senior positions in other [lenders’] deals” to help complete the capital stack, he added.

Construction financing became more challenging in the second half of 2022, said Suzanne Amaducci-Adams, who heads the real estate practice at Bilzin Sumberg. “With most banks, it’s been quiet. The financing markets haven’t settled down yet,” she said. “Once there’s certainty in interest rates, then all the assets can reprice. Construction lenders are still a little hesitant because of supply chain issues.”

Condo projects are generally the exception, “because there’s so much equity in those deals before they start construction,” she said, referring to buyers’ deposits.

Amaducci-Adams points to Bank OZK, the Little Rock, Arkansas-based lender that has been aggressive in South Florida in recent years. “They have a formula that works for them, and they’re still active,” she said.

Bank OZK provided a $242 million construction loan last month to billionaires Len Blavatnik and Vlad Doronin for the Aman hotel and condo project under construction in Miami Beach. It marks the second-largest construction loan in the past year. Bank OZK is also the lender for Wynwood Plaza, a mixed-use office, apartment and retail project developed by a group led by L&L Holding Company and Oak Row Equities. They secured $215 million in construction financing last month, marking the fifth largest loan in a year.

Outside of South Florida, in St. Petersburg, Bank OZK also provided a $252 million construction loan to New York developer John Catsimatidis for a mixed-use condo tower.

Even though developers and lenders say South Florida is better positioned than other major U.S. metros, it’s still a lender’s market. Lenders are “going to ask for more,” Amaducci-Adams said. “They’re going to ask for more carry guarantees, more equity.”

Calixto Garcia-Velez, CEO of Banesco USA, said the bank is still lending in construction, but is stricter in its requirements.

“Because of the inflationary environment, we are concerned with cost overruns. We’re building in extra contingencies for cost overruns,” Garcia-Velez said. “There may have been a time when we did a construction loan with 5 percent contingencies. Nowadays, we want a minimum of 10 percent.”

Here’s a look at the top 10 loans developers scored in South Florida in the last year:

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$269M loan | Nautilus 220

In July, a joint venture between Forest Development and Dan Kodsi’s Royal Palm Companies secured a $269 million construction loan for Nautilus 220, a waterfront condo project in Palm Beach County’s Lake Park. The two 24-story towers, with 330 units are planned for the site at 220 Lake Shore Drive. Fortress Investment Group is the lender.

$242M loan | Aman Miami Beach

Vlad Doronin and Len Blavatnik closed on a $242.4 million construction loan from Bank OZK for the oceanfront Aman Miami Beach development in January, bringing the total financing to more than $277 million. Doronin’s OKO Group and Blavatnik’s Access Industries are partnering on the two-building luxury hotel and condo project, under construction at 3425 Collins Avenue.

$240M loan | Selene Oceanfront Residences

Wells Fargo provided a $240 million construction loan to Kolter Urban for Selene Oceanfront Residences, twin 26-story towers with 194 condos, at 3000 Alhambra Street. Wells Fargo boosted a $17.4 million mortgage on the property by $222.6 million in December.

$224M loan | Nema Miami

In April, Russell Galbut’s Crescent Heights scored a $224 million construction loan for a Whole Foods-anchored luxury apartment tower in Miami’s Edgewater, called Nema Miami, planned for 2900 Biscayne Boulevard. Blackstone is the lender.

$215M loan | Wynwood Plaza

L&L Holding Company, Oak Row Equities, San Francisco-based Shorenstein Properties and Marcelo Claure’s Miami-based Claure Group closed on a $215 million construction loan from Bank OZK for the Wynwood Plaza in January. The 1-million-square-foot office, apartment and retail project is planned for 95 Northwest 29th Street in Miami.

$195M loan | Namdar Towers

Namdar Group secured a $195 million loan for Namdar Towers in downtown Miami. Slate Property Group’s affiliate Scale Lending provided the loan for the apartment project, marking its first in South Florida. Namdar Towers calls for a 41-story, 640-unit tower and a 43-story, 714-unit tower.

$164M loan | 444 Brickell Tower II

The Related Group received a $164 million construction loan for 444 Brickell Tower II, a 44-story, 506-unit rental building planned for the site at 77 Southeast Fifth Street in Miami, in January. Truist Bank is the lender. The building is on the same site as the planned Baccarat Residences tower and a third planned building, likely a hotel.

$154M loan | Bridge Point Commerce Center

Bridge Industrial scored a $154 million loan for the second phase of its Miami Gardens business park development. Bridge secured the financing in April from CIBC Bank USA loan. The project is expected to be completed in the third quarter of this year.

$149M loan | E11even Hotel & Residences

In February of last year, Property Markets Group and E11even Partners received a $148.5 million construction loan for E11even Hotel & Residences in Miami. Starwood Property Trust is the lender. The project calls for two 65-story buildings: a 375-unit hotel and condo tower, and a second 461-unit condo tower. Construction began in 2021.

$148M loan | Metro Parc

In September, MG Developer and Baron Property Group secured a $148 million construction loan from Post Road Group for Metro Parc, a nearly 600-unit planned apartment complex in Hialeah. The alternative investment firm provided the 30-month loan for the development planned for 955 East 25th Street and 980 East 26th Street.