10 June 2020
Billionaire developer buys three full blocks in Fort Lauderdale for $63M

OKO Group, led by billionaire developer Vladislav Doronin, made a massive splash in Fort Lauderdale by purchasing three full blocks of land just south of the New River.

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The seven transactions totaled $62.59 and closed simultaneously. The deal covered 6.68 acres — everything from Southeast Sixth Street down to Southeast Seventh Street, between South Federal Highway/Southeast Sixth Avenue west to Southeast Fourth Avenue.

The land is just east of the county courthouse.

The deal is the biggest to close in Fort Lauderdale since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic and signals Doronin is bullish on developing in the city.

“OKO Group is excited to expand its portfolio of South Florida real estate with the acquisition of a mixed-use development site in the heart of Fort Lauderdale’s urban core," the developer said in a statement. "The OKO Group team, led by Chairman and CEO Vladislav Doronin, now looks forward to working with the city of Fort Lauderdale to finalize plans for an exceptional development that will help to further transform the Downtown district while adding significant amenities for nearby residents and businesses."

The developer cited Fort Lauderdale's strong demographics and favorable urban grid that lends itself to a pedestrian- oriented development.

OKO Group has had a big impact in Miami-Dade County, where it's building the Missoni Baia condo in Edgewater, the 830 Brickell Plaza office tower, the Una Residences in Brickell, and the Aman hotel and residences in Miami Beach.

Fort Lauderdale has fewer foreign condo investors than Miami, but its downtown is booming with development, especially when it comes to apartments project. There are also new hotels and a major office tower coming.

OKO Group acquired the land through the Fort Pruf Rock Land Trust and obtained a $33 million mortgage from MSD RCOF Partners XII, an affiliate of New York-based MSD Partners.

Here is how the transactions broke down:

Scherer Realty, led by attorney William R. Scherer Jr., sold 4.11 acres at 633 S. Federal Highway; 612, 626, 641 and 644 S.E. Fifth Ave.; 409 and 519 S.E. Seventh St.; 645 S.E. Fifth Terrace; 412 S.E. Sixth St.; and 644 S.E. Fourth Ave. for $33.16 million. The property has seven office buildings for a combined 61,344 square feet. The land was acquired from the city in 2006.

616 S.E. Fourth Avenue LLC, led by Dev Motwani of Merrimac Ventures, Nitin Motwani and Dale Reed, sold 33,750 square feet of property at 616, 620, and 624 S.E. Fourth Ave. plus 625, 629 and 633 S.E. Fifth Ave. for $10.43 million. It currently has three small apartment buildings and a small office. It last traded for $4.05 million in 2019, so Motwani’s company made a nice profit.

Dixie Land Holdings LLC, led by Adam Bedzow of Ceiba Group, sold 34,686 square feet of property at 611 and 621 S.E. Sixth Ave. and 608 S.E. Fifth Terrace for $9.15 million. It has two office buildings. It was previously assembled for $1.9 million in 2015 and $525,000 in 2017, so the deal was also quite profitable.

Jay Mark 500 SE 6th ST LLC, managed by John J. Scherer, sold the 20,250-square-foot site at 500 S.E. Sixth St. for $3.8 million. It currently has a 12,198- square-foot office building. It last traded for $3.2 million in 2019.

Michael Buckley, Patricia B. Norris, Kathleen Buckley Rice, Stephen C. Buckley, Maureen Buckley, John K. Buckley, and Paul C. Buckley sold 9,030 square feet of property with a small office building at 540 S.E. Sixth St. for $2.23 million. It has been in their family for decades.

Kathleen Buckley Rice, Stephen C. Buckley, Maureen Buckley, John K. Buckley, and Paul C. Buckley sold the 8,058-square-foot lot at 601 S. Federal Highway for $1.97 million. It has a small office building.

SNB 400 LLC, managed by Stephen Lindie, sold the 6,325-square-foot lot at 400 S.E. Sixth St. for $1.85 million. It also has a small office building. It last traded for $742,500 in 2014.

Dev Motwani said he was approached by Robert Given of Cushman & Wakefield, on behalf of Oko Group, after it had assembled most of the land around his property. Motwani had previously planned an apartment there called 629 Residences.

"It made sense for them to control the entire site, including ours, so we agreed to sell," Motwani said. "We are still very bullish on the South of the River market as well as the rest of downtown and Flagler area and are actively looking for another site to build a similar project to what we had proposed at 629 Residences."

Whatever OKO Group plans to build at the site, the developer will likely hear from residents concerned about the frequent sewage leaks from the city’s pipes. Fort Lauderdale needs to make major infrastructure upgrades to address the problem, but some believe over development has contributed to the strain on the water system.

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