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U/C: Nu River Landing, Fort Lauderdale

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Ed Duggan

NuRiver Landing was planned as 409 rental units in 24 stories overlooking the New River, but it is turning into a condominium while under construction.

"I don't even think about it as a conversion since it's never been occupied," said Jeffrey Lax, founder and chairman of Noble House, joint developer with the Washington, D.C.-based Carlyle Group (not to be confused with the South Florida-based Carlisle Group, which specializes in affordable housing).

Carlyle has $18 billion in real estate under ownership or management. Noble House/NuRiver is the group's development vehicle.

Sellout could reach $170 million.

"We have added numerous up-grades from the original plans to make it a true luxury offering," Lax said. "Pre-completion prices will range from the mid-$200,000s to the low $700,000s."

Jack McCabe, president of Boca Raton-based McCabe Research & Consulting, sees more projects like NuRiver Landing as developers and converters take advantage of the current strong market.

Existing financing for the project is from Bank of America and Chicago-based LaSalle Bank.

"We didn't have to get the lenders' consent, but we chose to," Lax said, explaining that it pays to maintain good relations with deep-pocket lenders and financiers as the joint-venture group is looking for additional properties in the area.

Nobel House/NuRiver has the property under contract from American Land for an undisclosed price, Lax said. Closing is scheduled when the building is completed, which he estimates to be sometime in the second quarter of 2005.

"It's a little oasis in downtown Fort Lauderdale, just a water taxi's ride away from both Riverwalk and Las Olas nightlife, and offering phenomenal waterfront living next to a park," he said. "We'll be the only game in town offering occupancy in summer 2005."

Rosalia Picot, president and owner of Picot & Co. Realty Advisors, is handling exclusive sales for the property. She sees major advantages for buyers, chiefly locking in low interest rates.

"We have two preferred lenders on site that will lock in today's low rates because completion is so close," she said.

There is another good reason, she advises, based on what is happening in today's market because of escalating construction costs and outright greed.

"There have been a number of horror stories recently as developers have arbitrarily increased prices to buyers or terminated reservations, opting to resell units for much higher prices," Picot said. "At NuRiver Landing, we'll go right to contract so buyers are sure to get the unit they agree to at the pre-completion price, negotiated with no danger of cancellation."

Nov. 5 is set aside as VIP day at NuRiver Landing.

"It's for friends, family and VIPs who have registered to get a first look - about 700 of them," Lax said. "Saturday, we'll open to the public. I think it's a winner."

E-mail residential real estate writer Ed Duggan at [email protected]

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