BlackMINE drops investor search firm for iSquare Mall, shops for helicopter

An updated rendering of the iSquare Mall + Hotel development that was released in July, note the helipad atop the central part of the building.
An updated rendering of the iSquare Mall + Hotel development that was released in July, note the helipad atop the central part of the building. (HKS Architects)

Local developer The BlackMINE Group has dropped Manhattan-based boutique investment adviser Chesterfield Faring, Ltd. from its team on iSquare Mall + Hotel, after contracting the firm earlier this year to round up private investors for the $300 million-to-$400 million development on North International Drive.

After receiving a recommendation for approval of rezoning for the project Tuesday by Orlando's Municipal Planning Board, Abdul Mathin, chairman and CEO of BlackMINE, told GrowthSpotter he ended a short-lived relationship with the investment brokerage because his iSquare project proved "too big for them."


Mathin said his development team now prefers to deal directly with a handful of large private investors, instead of shopping the project through a broker to attract a variety of smaller investors. Mathin declined to name any lending partners he is pursuing or has agreements with, but said all private financing for iSquare is coming from within the United States.

Mathin told GrowthSpotter in early September he has invested roughly $30 million thus far in the project's real estate and development, and said in a May interview that BlackMINE will invest up to $100 million of its own equity in iSquare, with private financing and investment sought for the roughly $250 million that would remain.

Following the recommendation by Orlando's MPB on Tuesday, iSquare's Planned Development (PD) request goes to the city council on Nov. 16 for the first of two hearings before rezoning of the development can be made official.

Planned for a 5.6-acre parcel at the southeast corner of International Drive and Kirkman Road (known as International Shoppes), Mathin bought the site in 2007 for $12.5 million.

Architectural designs continue to be tweaked by Mathin and design partner HKS Architects, but with the building's height capped at 400 feet by Orlando city planners, the property will now stand 19 levels, with the retail mall and parking occupying levels one through six, and the two hotels on levels six through 19.

The two separate luxury hotel buildings will reach 350 feet in height, with a revolving restaurant at 360 feet and a helipad situated somewhere between 360 feet and 400 feet, Mathin said Tuesday.

With the luxury 100-room Capella Orlando Hotel in mind, Mathin said his development team is looking to purchase a six-passenger helicopter dedicated to the iSquare property. He said BlackMINE Group will have a booth at the National Business Aviation Association's 2015 convention in Las Vegas, Nov. 17-19.

BlackMINE will use the booth to advertise its helicopter needs for iSquare Mall + Hotel, as well as another of Mathin's Orlando-based companies, ANAA Global Aviation, which buys, sells, leases and operates high-end business jets for elites.

Mathin said ANAA has a hangar reserved at Orlando International Airport for use by its planes, or a future iSquare helicopter. Guests who arrive by private jet at the airport can pull right in to that hangar to board the helicopter, which can fly from MCO to iSquare Mall + Hotel in less than 10 minutes.

Passengers arriving by commercial flight at MCO could be picked up by an iSquare helicopter through a helipad on top of the Hyatt Regency hotel at the airport, if Mathin's ANAA can get FAA clearance.

Mathin said schematic designs for the mall and hotel should be done by Nov. 11 with HKS, with construction documents to follow for building permit applications. The project remains on pace to break ground in First Quarter 2016.

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