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Via Mizner Deal Goes From $400M To $600M

The biggest real estate financing deal in Florida from last year is about to get a little bigger. 

Via Mizner secured $400M in loans in 2017.

New York-based Lotus Capital Partners helped arrange $400M in financing for Via Mizner, a mixed-use project in Boca Raton, last year. Lotus is currently arranging another $200M for the project.

“We’re in the market in the next 30 to 60 days for another $200M in that deal," Lotus Capital Partners Managing Partner Faisal Ashraf, said during a Bisnow event in Fort Lauderdale Feb. 27. "Six-hundred million dollars in Boca Raton is like $1.2B in Miami. It wasn’t for the faint of heart.”

Lotus is an advisory firm, or an “arranger of capital,” Ashraf said — similar to HFF or JLL. Ashraf was a lender at CBRE and Credit Suisse before founding Lotus in 2016. He said his firm closed $1B in deals in 2017 and is on track to do $2B this year.

Ashraf told Bisnow in an interview that almost no one goes from the capital side to the brokerage side of finance, but he saw a unique opportunity.

“We are seeing unevenness of capital in South Florida,” he said. “Try getting a loan; if it’s more than $50M, the banks say, ‘Bring in other lenders.’ Sponsors don’t need three for $70M.”

Ashraf said his six-person team of former bankers knows how lenders think, and their Wall Street connections give them unique access to capital sources.

“We direct-dial CEOs. We’re dealing with our peers on the lending side,” he said.

Via Mizner will be a 2M SF mixed-used development with a Mandarin Oriental hotel as its centerpiece. It also includes an 85-unit luxury condo, a 366-unit luxury apartment building, 60K SF of shops and a golf course designed by Jack Nicklaus.

In the deal arranged by Lotus last year, Mack Real Estate Credit Strategies provided $315M for Via Mizner and the United States Immigration Fund chipped in $80M. Ashraf could not yet announce specifics of the more recent $200M chunk of financing.

Ashraf said he has also arranged $200M in deals in South America and is in the midst of a $237M deal in London that he describes as one of the five most expensive condo projects in the world. Still, he expects that half of his firm’s business will be focused on South Florida.

What does it take to hire him?

“We’re compensated on a success basis. We’re not the cheapest guys in the room,” Ashraf said. But his firm can arrange funding for complex and challenging projects, he said. We love the jiu-jitsu.”