Cortland Buys Controversial Multifamily Property Near Miami Zoo

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Cortland is once again on the prowl in South Florida.

The Atlanta-based multifamily real estate investor paid $174.2 million for an apartment complex near the Miami Zoo and a neighboring development site — with a controversial past, records show.

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Cortland paid $160.3 million for the Mareas at Botanica Apartments, located at 15520 SW 127th Avenue, two miles north of the zoo. The 498,210-square-foot property includes 408 units, according to property records. The sale equates to $392,900 per apartment. 

Cortland spent an additional $14 million for the adjacent 10-acre vacant parcel, also along 127th Avenue, which is zoned for 192 residential units, according to records.

Cortland plans to develop the site, having secured $42.1 million in construction financing as well as a $98.9 million acquisition loan, both from Truist Bank, totaling $141 million, according to public documents.

The seller, Ram Realty Advisors, faced fierce opposition over its plans for the site. 

In 2017, environmental groups sued the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service over its decision to allow the Palm Beach Gardens-based developer to build on the site, claiming the project would destroy the local vegetation of pine rocklands trees, considered an imperiled ecosystem, The Miami Herald reported

Construction was halted until 2019 when a Miami-Dade circuit judge dismissed the lawsuit, according to the Herald.

Cortland’s purchase comes only months after another pricey acquisition in Boca Raton. The firm dropped $230 million for a 456-unit rental complex in August, making it South Florida’s most expensive multifamily sale of the year on a per-apartment basis. 

Cortland and Ram Realty Advisors have previously traded properties as well. Back in June Cortland company bought a Deerfield Beach multifamily property from Ram Realty for $70 million

Julia Echikson can be reached at jechikson@commercialobserver.com.