IN THE NEWS
Coastland Construction Supports Holtz Children’s Hospital
Alex and Karen Rodriguez recently appeared in Jackson Health Foundation’s newsletter. They are thankful that Coastland Construction’s success helps support access to children’s health care.
In the Zone – Bald Eagles at Vista Lago Hatch an Eaglet During Construction
When Superintendent Clifton Allen walked onto the Vista Lago development in Miami Gardens on Jan. 11, he went straight to eagle island. He took out his binoculars and adjusted the focus until Cleo and Tony came into view. The two resident bald eagles sat in their large nest. They looked vigilant. Allen caught sight of something gray. Could it be? Yes. There it was—a little grayish lump with big eyes, pink claws, and a sharp black beak. Vista Lago had its first eaglet.
From the moment an active bald eagle nest was discovered on the Vista Lago property, Coastland Construction had to decide if it wanted to move forward with its residential community. As the national emblem of the United States, eagles are protected. The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service informed Coastland Construction that they would need an eagle permit before they could start any building.
The eagle permit would involve protecting the existing nest, building a reserve around the nest and monitoring the bald eagles for five years. “It completely changed the project, but I’m ever the optimist. Nobody else is going to have bald eagles in their community, and we love eagles,” said Karen Rodriguez, Director of Design & Development.
Working on Eagle Time
So Coastland Construction decided to change its plans and the eagles set the construction schedule. “We redesigned the schedule to fit construction within permit parameters,” said Leonardo Ambard, Development Manager for Vista Lago. “We were unable to build a couple of buildings until the eagles left and then we had to run because we had to be done by the time the eagles came back. We had a window of time.”
The Vista Lago eagles are named Cleopatra and Anthony (Cleo and Tony). Cleopatra means “Father’s glory.” The name seemed fitting since the founding fathers made the eagle the national emblem of the United States. Like other migrating bald eagles, Cleo and Tony go north in the summer and migrate south in the fall. Eagles, who mate for life, build a nest and return to it year and year for their nesting season, from Oct. 15 – May 15. “The truth is that every year—and this is the incredible thing—they come to the same nest. They repair the nest and try to have a baby,” Ambard said.
Building an Island Reserve
Vista Lago plans included a 6-acre lake, and the eagles’ nest was located within the planned lake area, so Coastland Construction built an island reserve specifically for the bald eagles. “From the beginning, our team understood the importance of the reserve,” Rodriguez said. Cleo and Tony returned to their nest within the Vista Lago reserve—during construction. That was the first sign that the reserve had succeeded.
Construction of the 36-acre development even helped Cleo and Tony. “Their nest got substantially bigger,” Rodriguez said. “They took wood and construction materials from the job site. I saw them increasing the nest, and I said they’re never going to leave.”
Their nest remodel enabled them to breed, which happens only once a year. “If, after the nesting season, they don’t have any eaglets, they [U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service] call it an unsuccessful attempt,” Ambard said. “This has been a huge effort and it’s now successful, because not only have the eagles come back, but we have the first eaglet. It’s incredible.”
Construction Crew Fascinated by Resident Eagles
Members of the Coastland Construction team that worked on the Vista Lago project really took an interest in the eagles. “Everybody was fascinated by it. They couldn’t believe we had eagles,” Rodriguez said. Ambard, who managed the eagle permitting and reserve building, spoke about Cleo and Tony proudly. “I sent pictures of the eagles’ nest to everyone. I sent it to my father, who is a retired architect, to my brother, to my wife and kids,” he said. When Ambard vacationed in Vermont, his hosts were excited about a bald eagle that was seen flying in the area. “I told them you have that one eagle and I have two at our project!”
The eagles increased the cost of building Vista Lago, but Coastland Construction thinks Cleo and Tony are worth it. Alejandro (Alex) Rodriguez, President of Coastland Construction, greenlit the project from the start. “Alex started this and it was his effort,” Ambard said. “He could have said, ‘Let’s do another project’.”
A Flying Start
Karen Rodriguez bought a telescope for the community clubhouse, so Vista Lago residents can see the eagles and their eaglet. “When you see the baby, see it moving, it makes it easier for people to understand what the reserve does,” she said. Now six weeks old, Cleo and Tony’s eaglet (still unnamed) can stand upright and scream loudly for food. The eaglet will start “hop flights” any day now, hovering above the nest.
Vista Lago residents can see the eaglet using the community telescope and learn about bald eagles at various information sessions held at the clubhouse. “We want them to know about bald eagle nesting, feeding and migration habits. The whole point is to get residents to support our effort to make the reserve successful,” Rodriguez said.
According to the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, eaglets leave the nest at 17 – 23 weeks, so Cleo and Tony’s eaglet is due to fly away between May 10 and June 23, 2022.
The developer of a planned housing development of 113 townhouses and 288 multifamily units in Miami Gardens scored a $38.3 million construction loan.
A company affiliated with Coastland Construction landed the loan for the project on about 36 acres at Northwest 207th Street & Northwest 7th Avenue, according to records. That’s east of Hard Rock Stadium, home of the Miami Dolphins and University of Miami Hurricanes football teams.
The development, called Vista Lago, will feature 11 three-story apartment buildings, with amenities to include a clubhouse, gym, toddlers park and pool overlooking a 6-acre lake. The first units are expected to be completed in July, according to Leonardo Ambard of Coastland Construction.
Ocean Bank is the lender. Earlier this year, the Miami bank provided an $810,000 construction loan for a rental development in Little Havana and a $67 million loan to refinance 13 Investments Limited properties in the region.
In May, Ocean Bank listed a 3-acre site near Le Jeune Road in Miami by its headquarters that could be developed into a mixed-use project.
Coastland, based in Pinecrest and led by President Alejandro “Alex” Rodriguez, bought the Vista Lago property in 2018 for $4.9 million, according to records. The property housed a television antenna complex for decades.
In October, the company paid the city of Miami Gardens $10 for land related to the project, according to records.
Coastland is also the builder of a $26 million Opa-locka development geared toward affordable housing. The developers secured a loan for that project in September.