BlackMINE pursues iSquare foundation, demo permits in January, pooling lenders

BlackMINE pursues iSquare foundation, demo permits in January, pooling lenders
The newest project rendering above depicts a 220-foot-high (almost 22 stories) atrium planned for Solis, one of two upscale hotels at iSquare Mall + Hotel, with a circulating water future that will float two board rooms and the "Auriga Spa." (BlackMINE Group)

Local developer The BlackMINE Group expects to apply for demolition and foundation permits for its iSquare Mall + Hotel in the latter half of January, could break ground on the project in Summer 2016, and is still negotiating with a handful of national banks on a construction loan portfolio, the company's chairman/CEO told GrowthSpotter.

Conventional loans for the projected $400 million development set for North International Drive will be sourced from a handful of large national consumer and real estate investment banks, said BlackMINE's Abdul Mathin on Tuesday morning.


"I can't say yet what the ratio will be of debt to equity investment, our updated budget will be coming in early next week," he said. "But the financing is there, we have commitments from several sources. I just have to see how the banks want to structure the deal."

Mathin said in a May interview that BlackMINE will invest up to $100 million of its own equity in iSquare.

Mathin told GrowthSpotter in early September that his firm has already invested close to $30 million in property acquisition and early-stage development for iSquare Mall + Hotel, which will be built at the southeast corner of I-Drive and Kirkman Road in the tourism corridor.

BlackMINE Group is structuring the loan pool, and will be sole owner of iSquare along with bank lenders. Clean ownership of the development motivated Mathin to avoid pursuing private investment partners, he said.

That's a change of direction from earlier this year, when plans were to round up private investors to finance the bulk of the $400 million iSquare project. BlackMINE had hired Manhattan-based boutique investment adviser Chesterfield Faring, Ltd. in the first half of the year to lead the effort.

That didn't go as planned, Mathin told GrowthSpotter in October, and Chesterfield Faring was dropped from the iSquare team.

HKS Architects completed a Schematic Design package for the development on Nov. 12, which updates an earlier schematic estimate from Balfour Beatty Construction in mid-September. The latest design maintains the project on course for $400 million in construction costs.

The development will feature two hotel towers (Capella and Solis brands) that should be rated at five stars or more, with 530 luxury guestrooms and suites. More than 350,000 square feet of high-end retail will anchor the property in iSquare Mall, along with an ice skating rink, rooftop pool and amenity decks for hotel guests, rotating restaurant, a helipad and 1,600-car parking garage.

Design development for the project should be complete by "early 2016," according to Mathin, with luxury hotel management company Capella Hotel Group and BlackMINE steering the hotel design plans, and Retail Street Advisors hired within the past month to procure high-end stores and restaurants for the shopping mall.

Other firms hired by BlackMINE for the project include Hirsch Bedner Associates (interior design), Brockette Davis Drake (structural engineering), EXP (engineering and LEED administration), Kimley Horn Associates (civil engineer), SPA'd (spa design), EDSA (landscape architecture, pools and water feature), Walker Parking Consultants (parking garage design and technology).

BlackMINE Group will also be producing a "Making Of" documentary of the iSquare project, to be released when the mall and hotel open.

"The documentary wil be a tool for future generations on how detailed the process is for a process of this size to be planned, financed and built," Mathin said.

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