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(Carl Cronan is editor of Real Estate Florida.)

MIAMI-A $100-million mortgage has been secured to refinance the new 54-story Epic Hotel overlooking Biscayne Bay. Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria made the loan late last month to the hotel’s majority owner, Spanish apparel mogul Amancio Ortega.

Proceeds will be used to pay down the hotel’s original $280-million construction loan, which Ortega’s Ponte Gadea Group and local partners Ugo Colombo and Lionstone Development borrowed in 2006 from Banco Santander Central Hispano. Ortega now controls more than 90% of Epic Hotel LLC, the ownership entity for the 414-room upscale hotel in Downtown Miami that opened in mid-December.

Israel Alfonso, an attorney and shareholder at Miami-based Greenberg Traurig, represented Ortega in the refinancing. He said his client’s prior relationship with BBVA made the loan process far less difficult under current economic circumstances, which are taking a tremendous toll on the hotel industry worldwide.

“The reason my client became involved in this transaction and was interested in doing this deal with these partners is because he was going to be the majority owner of the hotel at the end of the day,” Alfonso told the Daily Business Review, an Incisive Media publication. He added that Epic Hotel’s partners were required to contribute some equity for the release of the original loan, but declined to disclose the loan-to-value ratio for the refinancing.

The project’s residential component, involving 342 condominium units, was not part of the refi. The one- to three-bedroom condos, ranging from 1,040 to 7,840 square feet, were originally priced from $500,000.

Epic Hotel is located at 270 Biscayne Blvd. Way, where the Miami River meets Biscayne Bay. San Francisco-based Kimpton Hotel & Restaurant Group LLC manages the hotel, for which standard room rates start at $400 per night.

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