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(Carl Cronan is editor of Real EstateFlorida.)

PLANTATION, FL-Miami-based American Land Ventures LLC intends to break ground in the next two weeks on its 251-unit Residences at the Fountains luxury apartment complex in this Broward County suburb. The developer has received a $63-million non-recourse loan through its financial advisor, Madison Capital Group LLC.

ALV executives declined to identify the primary lenders, though others familiar with the $86-million project refer to them as life insurance and financial services firms. Developers have looked to other sources of financing since traditional banks have tightened their lending practices and commercial mortgage-backed securities are virtually non-existent.

“Considering market conditions today, it’s extraordinary for these two institutions to have enough belief in this project to go forward right now,” James “Sandy” Brown, vice president of acquisitions for ALV, tells GlobeSt.com. He emphasizes that the Residences at the Fountains will be built as a rental apartment community, not a for-sale condominium project.

ALV has worked nearly five years to start the project on a surface parking lot in Plantation’s Midtown District, approximately a half-mile north of the interchange of Interstate 595 and University Drive, Brown says. The 11-story structure will include 15,000 sf of office space, 5,000 sf of ground-floor retail and a parking garage with spaces for 370 vehicles.

“The Residences at the Fountains will be a residential community fully integrated in the neighboring retail, office and hospitality components creating a mixed-use urban village in the heart of Plantation’s core economic hub,” Granvil Tracy, ALV principal, stated in a release. “The complimentary nature of the uses should result in more efficient parking and traffic management, as well as returns greater than the market because of the mix of uses.”

Tim Martorella, managing director of Miami-based Madison Capital, says the firm was successful in closing construction financing for ALV despite current difficult capital markets. He points to the high quality of the Fountains apartments and the trend toward urban living options in suburban settings as working in the project’s favor.

Upon its expected 2010 opening, the Residences at the Fountains will offer a mix of rental units ranging from studio to three-bedroom apartments with 710 to 1,553 sf each. Featured amenities on the property will include a secure lobby, business center and lap pool, while nearby attractions are also being promoted such as Broward Mall and several restaurants and nightclubs.

“We’re pretty optimistic that we can get this going,” Brown says. “By the time we are finished in the next two years, hopefully the economy will improve and this project will be well received.”

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