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A Miami-based developer is nearly finished building a Montessori middle and high school in Hollywood. Fortec, a real estate development company headquartered in the Brickell Financial District, announced that it will open a 17,000- square-foot pre-K, middle school, and high school at 2216 Hollywood Boulevard. The new location, which will be called Academy of Thought and Industry Middle-High School is owned by Fortec, which paid $4.1 million for the land in January 2022. Higher Ground Education, which will operate the school, signed a 20-year lease for the location, said Fortec chairman Pablo Barreiro. It will house 162 students and 24 employees, said Divij Munjal, assistant director of expansion at Higher Ground. The new facility will be in close proximity to two other schools operated by Higher Ground Education: a Guidepost Montessori Preschool at 2230 Hollywood Blvd. and a Guidepost Montessori elementary and middle school at 2402 Hollywood Blvd. Fortec plans to transform additional South Florida properties into Higher Ground Education-operated schools. They are: 214 E. Hallandale Beach Blvd. in Hallandale Beach: a former church that was acquired by Fortec for $4.9 million in April. 10300 Riverside Drive, Palm Beach Gardens: a light industrial building that a Fortec subsidiary acquired for $10.1 million. 353 Hiatt Drive, Palm Beach Gardens: a former daycare that was acquired by Fortec for $3.22 million in June 2020. Fortec has been Higher Ground Education's real estate partner for "several years," Munjal said, "and have always done an outstanding job throughout our alliance, including identifying opportunities that align with our business, securing locations in communities that can greatly benefit from additional educational institutions, and developing successful schools for us." Higher Ground Education is building more schools in Florida due to the "large/increasing waiting list," Munjal stated in an email to the Business Journal. Its target clients include families living near the schools and "parents of younger children with a household income of over $150K," he added. Attracted by a lack of a state income tax, wealthy households have been migrating to South Florida in greater numbers since the pandemic. As a result, demand for private schools soared. Founded in 2016 and based in Lake Forest, California, Higher Ground Education runs brick-and-motor schools across the U.S. as well as virtual Montessori courses for home-schooled children. Montessori is an educational method that teaches children and teenagers through natural interests and activities.

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