CREI lands $67M construction loan for Sweetwater apartment building 

Developer is proposing eight-story project with 326 workforce and affordable housing units

CREI Scores $67M Construction Loan For Sweetwater Project
CREI managing member Raul Rodriguez and rendering of Li’l Abner III apartment building (Burgos Lanza Architects and Planners, LinkedIn)

CREI Holdings nabbed $67 million in construction financing to build an $83 million multifamily project with 326 apartments in Sweetwater.

Conway, Arkansas-based Centennial Bank provided the construction loan to Sweetwater-based CREI, a press release states. The developer is planning to break ground next quarter on Li’l Abner III, an eight-story building with the one- and two-bedroom units split between workforce and affordable housing. 

Yuleisy Montalvo with Centennial Bank arranged the loan, the release states. Attorney Richard Barbara represented the lender, and lawyer Manny Diner represented CREI.  

Designed by Coral Gables-based Burgos Lanza Architects & Planners, the project’s anticipated completion date is in 2026, the release states. 

CREI is setting aside 60 percent of the apartments for households earning up to 120 percent of the area median income in Miami-Dade County. The remainder of the units will be designated for households making up to 80 percent of the area income. And nearly 40 percent of the units will also be for tenants ages 55 and older, the release states. 

Miami-Dade’s area median income is $74,700, a county memo shows. The planned project is adjacent to Li’l Abner I and II, two other senior, affordable and workforce housing rental buildings. 

Last year, CREI obtained a $41 million refinancing loan from Miami-based Lument secured by Li’l Abner II, which was built in 2023, the release states. With Li’l Abner III, the trio of buildings will have a total of 657 apartments set aside for affordable, workforce and senior housing. 

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Led by managing member Raul Rodriguez, CREI is a development firm specializing in affordable and workforce housing projects, the release states. 

A recent University of Florida housing study found that half of all households in Miami-Dade are paying more than 30 percent of their income for housing. Nearly three-quarters of households with annual income below $75,000 struggle with housing costs, the study shows. 

The report also found that Miami-Dade currently needs 90,181 units for households with income below 80 percent of the area median income.

Other recent projects with affordable and workforce housing are planned for Model City, near Aventura and possibly Bal Harbour. An entity owned by investors Alberto Fernandez Falcon and Rene Sanchez is planning an 112-unit apartment building with ground-floor retail in Model City utilizing Florida’s Live Local Act. 

At least 40 percent of the units in the planned 11-story building on a 0.7-acre site would be for households earning no more than 120 percent of the area median income, which is consistent with the Live Local Act requirements. 

Whitman Family Development, owner of Bal Harbour Shops, is planning a massive residential and hotel addition to the shopping center site by also trying to take advantage of the Live Local Act. On a site previously slated for a new Barney’s department store, Whitman wants to develop another 46,000 square feet of retail, a 70-room hotel and 528 residential units, with at least 40 percent set aside for workforce housing.

However, Bal Harbour Village government officials are opposing the proposal and recently passed legislation aimed at short-circuiting the planned project. 
In Ojus, an unincorporated neighborhood near Aventura, RAM Realty Advisors and Pinnacle are planning Aventana, a 334-unit multifamily project with at least 10 percent of the units priced as workforce housing.