Michael Wohl, a veteran developer with Pinnacle Housing Group for 20 years, has joined with three partners to form Coral Rock Development Group in Miami.

Their first mixed-use project will be Pura Vida Hialeah, which will include the first Wawa in Hialeah.

Miami-based Pinnacle is one of the largest affordable housing developers in Florida. Wohl is one of four partners in that business.

Wohl said he will remain an investor in Pinnacle’s existing communities and its five developments in the pipeline, but will now focus most of his time working with Coral Rock Development Group.

“Philosophically, I really believe in mixed-use development and the synergies it can do with multifamily and retail pieces,” Wohl said. “I decided I don’t want to focus full time on doing affordable housing, which is very difficult to put together these days, with rising land costs and construction costs.”

The other three partners in Coral Rock are Stephen A. Blumenthal, who worked on industrial and retail development with Pan American Cos. for 19 years, David Brown and Victor Brown. The Browns developed 20 Budget Mini Storage building before selling them to Public Storage, and are major landowners in West Kendall, where they previously sold property to apartment developers.

“I wanted to make a difference and get involved in transformational projects,” Blumenthal said. “Few groups specialize in mixed-use projects. We decided to go into areas, like Hialeah, that are in need of new product and have lost a lot of millennials.”

Coral Rock hopes to attract young residents back to the city with Pura Vida Hialeah, which has already been entitled by the city.

The Business Journal previously covered the rezoning of the 8.98-acre site at 2901 W. 16th Ave., but it wasn’t clear at that time who was behind the development. Hialeah Pura Vida Apartments and Hialeah Pura Vida Commercial acquired the former Sunny Gardens Mobile Home Park for $12 million in March.

The property is just north of U.S. 27, about four blocks southeast of where it intersects with State Road 826/Palmetto Expressway. Blumenthal said U.S. 27 has 80,000 vehicle trips daily in that area, but there are no new apartment projects there, and few national retailers.

Pura Vida Hialeah is slated for 260 apartments in three eight-story buildings. There would be 51,000 square feet of commercial space. A Wawa service station and food store, Dollar Tree, YouFit Health Club and Taco Bell have already signed leases, the developer said.

Blumenthal said the 11,000 square feet of retail at the base of the apartment buildings, plus a 2,500-square-foot stand-alone retail building remains available for lease.

Wohl said Coral Rock is working to find new housing for the mobile home park residents. They will be financially compensated, and some were moved into existing Pinnacle affordable apartment complexes, he added.

Wohl said they plan to break ground on Pura Vida Hialeah in the first quarter of 2019.

“A lot of younger people grew up in Hialeah and had to leave the city to find housing,” Wohl said. “With the YouFit and the restaurants and a Wawa, we hope this project will bring them back.”

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