Prospects for “mezzanine capital” in South Florida

“There’s a lot of new urbanist development going on in

South Florida,” says Thomas Jeffrey, chief financial officer of American Ventures Realty Investors, which manages the new South Florida Urban Initiatives Fund. “We’re got probably close to 20 projects that people are talking to us about.” Projects being considered for investment by the South Florida fund, most of them consistent with New Urbanism’s principles, include:

• Residential portions of the Crosswinds project in Miami’s Overtown neighborhood. About 100 housing units envisioned by Crosswinds would be sold to the City of Miami or a foundation, to provide subsidized housing for existing and former residents. Focused on a transit station, historic structures, and a theater, the project could be “an economic engine for all of Overtown,” Crosswinds president Steve Feldman says.

• An eight-story, 210-unit residential project called “The Whitney,” between CityPlace and Clematis Street in West Palm Beach, will include live/work lofts on the ground floor and is set to begin construction in September. The fund is to provide a portion of the project’s $60 million cost.

• Ten townhouses and a 38-unit loft-style condominium building in a blighted near-downtown section of Fort Lauderdale. The developer, Progresso Lofts, previously built 20 houses in the area, where consultant Lynn Fitzpatrick says “drugs and prostitution were pretty rampant.” Some ground-floor retail is anticipated in the project, which will replace used-car lots.

• A project on Biscayne Boulevard in Miami that would include first-floor commercial uses and upper-floor housing.

• A mixed-use project of probably more than $160 million that the GrayHawk Group of Companies has proposed for downtown Lake Worth. However, the Lake Worth Herald reported July 29 that the project is stalled because GrayHawk has not been able to obtain all the properties it needs.