Mixed-use Hollywood Circle, largely funded with Chinese EB-5 investment, tops off

Mixed-use project in downtown Hollywood to have 397 apartments, 104-room hotel and Publix

By Mike Seemuth

Rendering of Hollywood Circle and Chip Abele

Years in the making, Hollywood Circle, a mixed-use project rising in downtown Hollywood that is largely funded by Chinese EB-5 investors, has topped off.

The 25-story building will have 397 rental apartments and a 104-room boutique hotel, plus a restaurant spanning nearly 10,000 square feet and a 46,744-square-foot Publix supermarket.

“We made a commitment to Publix to open their store the first week of November, and that is probably the absolute earliest we’d be able to get a CO (certificate of occupancy) for any part of the building,” lead developer Chip Abele told The Real Deal, at a topping-off party Thursday evening. “We still have a lot of work to do.”

The building will have three sections at heights of 11, 21 and 25 stories, and will feature an eighth-floor recreation deck for apartment tenants and a 12th-floor recreation deck for hotel guests, each with a swimming pool.

Cohen Freedman Encinosa & Associates of Miami Lakes architect of Hollywood Circle is the architect for the project. The interior designer, mainly for the project’s hotel, is Gettys Group.

Abele said the total cost of Hollywood Circle, including land acquisition, will be $192 million when general contractor Stiles Corp. completes construction.

The developers of Hollywood Circle are building it without a construction loan. “We’re building the building for cash,” Abele said. “We don’t have a lender on the property. Our entire company is debt-free right now.”

He said most of the financing for Hollywood Circle came from foreign nationals who invested $125 million through the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program, which provides permanent residency in the United States to qualified investors and their families. About 70 percent of the EB-5 financing came from Chinese investors.

Abele said he and five other main partners provided the rest of the financing to develop Hollywood Circle, located north of Hollywood Boulevard and east of U.S. 1 along the northeast side of Young Circle Park in downtown Hollywood.

Monthly rents for the one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments “will be north of $2,000,” Abele said. “But I think 90 percent of them are going to be under $3,000. We’ll average about $2,400 per unit.”

The property’s boutique hotel will be called Circ – “it’s our own brand,” Abele said – and will be managed by Trust Hospitality. The restaurant, called Olivia and run by Piero Filpi, will be “the main restaurant open to the public but also will serve as the hotel restaurant,” he said.

The topping-off party Thursday night was a years-in-the-making milestone for the developers of Hollywood Circle, who began assembling the development site in 2001.

The developers bought 24 parcels to assemble the site, including a Greyhound Bus terminal, four small apartment buildings, two gas stations, a Papa John’s drive-in pizza store, a vacant lot and an asphalt parking lot. The biggest structure they bought was a 12-story building called the Town House Apartments.

The development group had finished its land acquisitions by 2007, when the U.S. housing market began its historic slump, triggering an economic recession that continued into 2009. “We put everything on hold,” Abele said. “Everybody in the real estate business basically was on a forced vacation.”

The developers continued to operate the Town House Apartments until 2014, when they demolished it, marking the biggest step in clearing the development site for the construction of Hollywood Circle.

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