Mixed use development and financing challenges

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My partners and I acquired some great real estate in a small downtown and plan to develop a nice mixed-use project to include retail/restaurants on the first floor with condominiums above that on the second and third floors. We are having difficulty in finding the best financing structure to get the project to the finish line. With NNN leases, HOA fees, CAM, some condos for rent and some for sale, the spreadsheets are fairly complex. However, the big hurdle has been that most lenders that we have spoken with want to see the retail component of the project at least 50% leased prior to commitment. They want to see signed leases with all the details confirmed and locked in while our construction process will likely take at least 18 months... Most retailers, local and national, aren't confident signing a lease before the project is underway and while the economy may be at a high point. Likewise, we don't want to lock in lease rates and terms now when the retail market in this particular downtown could appreciate a lot during the tie we are under construction. Does anyone have any advice or creative ways to finance a deal like this when there are so many risks involved and at a time when there is a lot of uncertainty in the marketplace?

@Max Zappas Another way would be partnering with an investor. Make him see your vision. Current market conditions won't matter that much of it's a long term play. Likely in partnership you will likely have to fork up more of your equity to mitigate the investors risk.. Good luck..

@Hai Loc thank you for the advice! That is the solution I have been landing on as well because the future value will certainly appreciate well due to the location and product. Without the burden of the debt payments and the value of depreciation, the numbers are obviously looking more favorable.