Church redevelopment is gospel in South Florida: 160-unit apartment project planned in Fort Lauderdale

Tal Levinson, Eric Malinasky pay $4M for assemblage, plus under $1.5M contract for last parcel

Tal Levinson, Eric Malinasky Plan Rentals in Fort Lauderdale

From left: Eric Malinasky and Tal Levinson along with an aerial view of the assemblage at 500, 506, 510, 522, 530, 534 Northwest Ninth Avenue in Fort Lauderdale (Getty, Google Maps)

Developers plan a 160-unit apartment project on an assemblage that includes the Shaw Temple AME Zion Church in Fort Lauderdale, as redevelopment of religious sites soars across South Florida. 

Tal Levinson and Eric Malinasky want to build a six-story building on a 1.3-acre property at 500, 506, 510, 522, 530 and 534 Northwest Ninth Avenue in the Dorsey-Riverbend neighborhood, Levinson said. Doron Malinasky, Gilad and Avraham Ovaknin, and Eliyahu Levy also are partners, according to records. 

The development would have roughly 2,500 square feet of offices and about 3,000 square feet of commercial space. The offices would be either co-working or offices for tenants’ personal use, and the commercial space could be a food and beverage concept.

At least 10 percent, or 16, of the units would be workforce housing for households earning no more than 120 percent of the area median income, according to Levinson. 

At Broward County’s annual AMI of $89,100, a one-person household can’t earn more than $88,680 to qualify for a unit at the project and a two-person household can’t earn more than $101,280, according to the Florida Housing Finance Corporation. These restrictions are $114,000 in annual income for a three-person household and $126,720 for a four-person household. 

The developers have purchased most of the six-lot assemblage and worked with Shaw Temple AME to help it find a new home. 

Since last summer, Levinson, Malinasky and their partners have paid $1.3 million for the parcels at 506, 510, 530 and 534 Northwest Ninth Avenue in separate deals in August, December and January, according to records. 

Last week, they bought Shaw Temple AME’s property at 522 Northwest Ninth Avenue for $2.8 million. 

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Simultaneously, Levinson and Malinasky put a new site for the church, at 2424 and 2525 Northwest 21st Street in Fort Lauderdale, under contract for $1.5 million. Shaw Temple AME assumed the contract and closed on the site, according to Levinson.

Levinson and Malinasky have the final piece of the assemblage at 500 Northwest Ninth Avenue under contract for $1.5 million, Levinson said. The closing is expected in August. 

The developers plan to apply for a site rezoning this year and wait for interest rates to drop before they start construction, according to Levinson. 

South Florida’s real estate boom and the scarcity of buildable lots have led developers to seize on church sites. Some are redeveloping the church buildings, while others are preserving them or helping the congregations find new homes. 

As of February, developers had 12 projects in the works on church sites for a combined 

2,021 apartments, condos and single-family homes, as well as 338,300 square feet of commercial space, according to an analysis by The Real Deal

This includes Levinson and Malinasky’s other planned Fort Lauderdale project, a 410-unit apartment building on the southeast corner of Northwest Seventh Street and Northwest Fourth Avenue. The site was home to First Eben Ezer Missionary Christian Church. Similar to the Shaw Temple AME deal, the developers found a new home for First Eben Ezer Missionary, put it under contract and then transferred the contract to First Eben Ezer. 

In other church redevelopment proposals, Steve Ross’ Related Companies and Palm Beach-based Frisbie Group plan a 190-unit condo project with a 28-story building and a 32-story tower on the Family Church property at 1101 South Flagler Drive in West Palm Beach. The plan is to preserve the main worship hall; rebuild the assembly space with a new building of 1,400 seats; and replace the existing private school building with a new 116,200-square-foot school.