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BRYAN, TX-FortGroup Development has broken ground on the 852-bed Wave’s Z Islander, one of two in the US now under construction. The St. Augustine, FL-based veteran developer is launching a new student-housing brand after selling a portfolio last year.

FortGroup has started work on a 23.35-acre development site at Wellborn and Old College roads, close to Texas A&M University. The Wave’s Z Islander, slated for a summer 2009 completion, will have two-, three- and four-bedroom units. FortGroup Development plans to manage the complex and hold it long term as it builds a Wave’s Z portfolio, according to Lee Weaver, vice president in Tampa for Minneapolis-based NorthMarq Capital Inc.

“They’d developed quite an extensive portfolio before and sold it all to Jones Lang LaSalle last year,” says Weaver, who arranged $55.2 million in debt and equity financing for the project. He says the developer really wanted to work on a different brand.

“Wave’s Z is the concept they’ll use at future sites and they’re mainly in the Southeast,” Weaver tells GlobeSt.com. He says the developer is looking for other sites in Texas. FortGroup is underway on a Wave’s Z Islander in Jacksonville, FL, with 460 beds in phase one and 228 beds in phase two on a 40.88-acre tract.

Weaver says ideal sites for the Wave’s Z concept are within one mile of large or expanding university campuses. “They also prefer that their projects be on a bus route,” he adds. “Not a public bus route, but one run by the school so only students use it.”

According to a press release, a $43.82-million debt piece was provided by Regions Bank of Birmingham, AL. The 42-month loan is interest-only for the construction period, with a 30-year amortization during the mini-perm phase. The loan-to-cost ratio is 80%; the interest rate is about 200 basis points over Libor. An equity partner based in the South kicked in $11.42 million of additional equity, creating a total financing package that covers 97% of the project’s total cost.

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