PANAMA CITY, FL-Kennedy Funding of Hackensack, NJ has saved a planned 200-unit, three-building, multi-million-dollar condominium venture from sinking by providing a quick $6.6-million land acquisition loan after the developer’s local bank couldn’t provide the paperwork by the seller’s deadline. The interest rate and loan terms weren’t disclosed, however.

Locally based Gulf Waves Partners LLC needed the money fast because the seller held backup contracts and was unwilling to extend the contract time, says Al Buniak, a principal at the development firm. “It took only seven days (to do the deal) from commitment to loan closing,” Buniak tells

“Timing was the critical issue for us and Kennedy Funding was able to get the deal done in the tight timeframe we were facing,” says Buniak. “The whole Florida Gulf market is doing very well and Panama City has become a very hot market to the extent that a delay in getting the loan was essential to obtaining the property.”

For example, land fronting on the Gulf of Mexico has shot up to $50,000 per lineal foot from $15,000 per lineal foot in the last 18 months, Buniak says.

“Land loans for property acquisition and buildouts for infrastructure are among the most difficult to obtain from traditional lenders,” says Kennedy Funding president Jeffrey Wolfer. That’s because “conventional lenders are unwilling to take on the risk and cannot respond quickly enough to produce commitments due to loan processes tangled up with red tape and layers of decision-making by committees,” Wolfer says.

Eighteen-year-old Kennedy Funding can produce loan commitments “from $1 million and up in as little as two weeks,” the mortgage banker says. The company “has been known to turn around loan commitments in as little as 24 hours and routinely produces commitments in two-to-three days,” Wolfer says. “In today’s business climate, transactions have to move quickly or opportunities are lost. Timing is critical to the success of commercial real estate ventures.”

Gulf Waves is buying the beachfront tract at Beach Boulevard and Thomas Drive near the intersection of Route 98 and Front Beach Road. The area is known locally as the Strip. The 200 condo units will be developed in one to three 22-story buildings.

“Panama City’s beachfront is undergoing a major boom since the city changed the zoning along the beach to allow for the construction of 20-plus story multi-family buildings,” says Wolfer. “There are more than 20 beachfront projects under way now and our research shows that the marketability of these projects is very strong, making it a sound investment.

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