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Community First Credit Union Funds Jacksonville Beach Hotel Construction

By: Maria Coppola, APR, CPRC

Posted on 7/22/2019 5:00:00 PM

Credit Union provides largest commercial loan in its history for Element by Westin

JACKSONVILLE, Fla., July 16, 2019Community First Credit Union and Shivam Properties II, LLC have closed a deal to fund the construction of the company’s newest hotel project, the Element by Westin in Jacksonville Beach. The hotel, located on a strategic parcel on the southeast corner of Beach Blvd. and Third St., will be the first and only Element hotel property in North Florida and one of only three in Florida. Total construction project cost is $16 million.

Exact funding details were not released, but the deal is the largest commercial project in Community First’s history. While the credit union has always had a local commercial loan department focused on small business, this project represents a 40% increase over its average loan value. 

“Community First is proud to help Shivam Properties fulfill its plan to deliver a much-needed new hotel project to our area,” said John Keeley, commercial lending officer at Community First. “We have become Shivam Properties’ partner in their success and the company’s dedication to the local hotel and hospitality industry.”

Shivam Properties sought a locally focused commercial funding partner who was interested in helping a local business construct, own and operate this new hotel. The company owns and operates three hotels in the Jacksonville Beach area including the Best Western Oceanfront, Holiday Inn Express Jacksonville Beach and Four Points by Sheraton Jacksonville Beachfront. 

“Our team is pleased to close the final deal to fund this beautiful new concept and bring it to our market,” said Sonny Bhikha, Shivam Properties owner and manager. “We want to improve the options available in our market while being a partner with the city and residents. We are thrilled that a Jacksonville-based credit union was interested and able to fund our new development.”

The Element by Westin hotel will be 80 extended-stay units, with 45 rooms with full kitchens and the remainder with efficiency-type amenities. The hotel is designed for stays longer than two to three days. Bhikha said the hotel will give tourists more options at the beaches as well as cater to medical tourists visiting nearby Mayo Clinic.

Shivam Properties plans to break ground on the site in the next 30 to 45 days and received its construction permit from the City of Jacksonville Beach in mid-June. The construction firm is D R Patel Construction LLC and the architect is BRR Architecture, Inc. The hotel is expected to open in 2020. 

Since 2014, Community First has rapidly expanded its commercial loan division and portfolio and specializes in helping growing businesses based in the region through loans for real estate, construction, equipment, expansions and other commercial needs. The credit union’s comprehensive suite of commercial products includes all the financial services small and large businesses need including loans, deposit accounts, credit card processing, payroll services and mobile banking. Community First’s commercial loan portfolio grew by more than $67 million during the last five years, a 291% growth.

Community First Credit Union of Florida is a state-chartered credit union based in Jacksonville serving anyone who lives or works on the First Coast. Community First is one of the 10 largest credit unions in the state, serving more than 140,000 members and with assets of $1.7 billion. Community First has 19 locations and 300 employees. A not-for-profit, Community First is a full-service financial institution offering banking, loans, mortgages and investments for consumers and businesses throughout the First Coast. For more information visit