After much travail, 1,000 room convention hotel approved near SeaWorld; April 20, 2022

HOTELS & HOSPITALITY DEVELOPMENT NEWS IN CENTRAL FLORIDA

New hotel planned for Orlando’s Westwood Boulevard near SeaWorld and OCCC

Westwood Boulevard ― a road that runs parallel to State Road 528 near the Orange County Convention Center and SeaWorld ― is poised for new hotel development, with one grandiose high-rise concept recently granted approval.   A 36-story, 1,000-room hotel and convention center under development by Orlando-based Skorman Construction and its affiliate Westwood Land Corporation received final approval on April 8.

The not-yet-named Skorman-led hotel project would cover 995,000 square feet and rise 36 stories tall.  It would feature three restaurants, with one on the roof offering views of four theme different parks.  “You can be on the roof and see all of the fireworks” from theme parks, said Kevin Skorman, Vice President of Skorman Construction. “This is single-handedly the best piece of property in Orlando right now.”

Atlanta-based architecture firm Smallwood is leading the building’s design, while Hall Development Services and Kimley Horn are handling planning and civil engineering.  Skorman couldn’t provide an estimate as to when the project will be complete.

The Grow Agrihood moves forward; December 7, 2021

PulteGroup will be the primary homebuilder within Dwight Saathoff’s The Grow

PulteGroup will build some of the first homes within The Grow master-planned community that will feature a 9-acre working farm, two major community gardens, and 20-acre public community park, and a farm-to-table restaurant.
PulteGroup will build some of the first homes within The Grow master-planned community that will feature a 9-acre working farm, two major community gardens, and 20-acre public community park, and a farm-to-table restaurant. (PFD)
Developer Dwight Saathoff is bringing in the Pulte Group to serve as the primary homebuilder within his 1,185-acre master-planned agri-hood community in east Orlando.  The Atlanta-based homebuilder is the first to be mentioned as part of plans for the mega-development referred to as “The Grow,” which will shape more than a thousand acres of pasture land between Lake Pickett Road and State Road 50 into a community inspired by the splendors of farm life.

In total, The Grow is entitled to feature 2,078 homes and 172,000 square feet of commercial space. Between that, the community will also feature 21 acres of community gardens, a 20-acre community park, 12 miles of recreational trails, edible landscaping, a street for farmers markets and a farm-to-table restaurant, among other agricultural amenities.  PulteGroup was mentioned in a recently submitted Preliminary Subdivision Plan seeking to subdivide 408 acres owned by Saathoff’s American Land Investments Of Orange County LLC on the southern portion of the master-planned community.  PulteGroup plans to build 701 single-family detached homes and 166 single-family attached homes on roughly 400 acres in east Orlando.  Of the roughly 400 acres, 217 acres are developable.

Max Perlman, VP of land acquisition at PulteGroup, told GrowthSpotter the company intends to build townhomes and single-family one- and two-story homes. The PSP states the project will be developed in four phases. Lot widths for single-family homes will range from 34 feet to 125 feet.  “The project has excellent proximity and access to UCF, Central Florida Research Park, State Road 408 and Waterford Lakes Town Center, making it an attractive place to live,” he said. “The master amenities and agri-hood lifestyle will make The Grow a true one-of-a-kind community in Central Florida and Pulte looks forward to being a part of it.”

Saathoff with Project Finance & Development said plans for The Grow’s master infrastructure are currently under review and right behind it is the recently submitted PSP application that covers the southern portion of the project. “There’s a high degree of collaboration between us,” he said. “It would be hard to bring in someone else after there’s been over a year of discussions, visioning sessions, and development of construction plans, budget and timing. We really wanted to have those discussions with one homebuilder.”

 Jim Hall with HDSi is the community planner for the subdivision plans. VHB  serves as the civil engineer on the project. Bio-Tech Consulting Inc. is handling environmental affairs and Allen & Company is the surveyor.

The first phase will consist of 300 homesites, setting the edges of the farm and starting to ready the soil, a working barn, a welcome center with adjacent café/bakery, the first couple of miles of the edible landscape trail, Saathoff said. He said he expects to be in the position to break ground next summer.

Banksville Of Florida Inc. is another major property owner in the community. Plans have not yet been submitted for its roughly 550 acres.

Packing District residential moving forward; October 28,2021

The Packing District draws another luxury apartment development

Third Wave Development has filed plans for a 293-unit apartment building in The Packing District at 1900 Orange Blossom Trail.
Third Wave Development has filed plans for a 293-unit apartment building in The Packing District at 1900 Orange Blossom Trail. (Dwell Design Studio)
The Packing District has drawn a third multifamily development application in the month of October, this time appropriately named Yjird Wave Development.

The firm, led by longtime Orlando developer Chuck Hollis, filed a Specific Parcel Master Plan application Monday for a 293-unit apartment community slated to rise on 3.8 acres at 1900 Orange Blossom Trail. The industrial property has been owned by Steward Properties LLC since 2005 and serves at the home of Northside Trucks.

The “Northside Yards” project is just outside the Packing District Planned Development and abuts the site of theptoposed 350 init apartment community at the southwest corner of Orange Blossom Trail and Princeton Street. That project would be the second phase by Texas-based Embrey Partners, which is now leasing The Camry at the Packing District apartments at 2501 N. Orange Blossom Trail.

The five-story building would have two amenity courtyards and a dog park along Diversified Way. The design incorporates a dozen different materials for the exterior finishes.
The five-story building would have two amenity courtyards and a dog park along Diversified Way. The design incorporates a dozen different materials for the exterior finishes. (Dwell Design Studio)

The proposed 1900 Northside apartments would feature a five-story building with an attached parking garage and two interior amenity courtyards. The development site extends to Diversified Way and contemplates the existing rail spur being converted into a multi-use trail. The primary access would be via Strobel Avenue, which would be reconstructed as a complete street with enhanced sidewalks and on-street parking. The developer is seeking a 6% parking reduction due to the project being a tenth of a mile from a Lynx bus stop.

Atlanta-based Dwell Design Studio is the architect of record. Dwell incorporated a dozen different materials for the exterior finishes; among them are three types of masonry, two types of metal siding, board and batten and wood-stained cementitious siding.
‘Missing middle’ apartment development planned near southwest Oviedo

“We have always hoped and expected that the success of the Packing District would lead to the surrounding properties improving, and this is yet another example,” Dr. Phillips Charities CEO Ken Robinson told GrowthSpotter.

Construction is underway on The Packing District Park and Orlando Tennis Centre. The regional park features a pond overlook, a 40-acre urban farm, sports fields, a pavilion, an entertainment stage, scenic walking and jogging trails, and more.

Packing District warehouses give way to make room for more apartments

Meanwhile, the owners of Princeton Commerce Center, an 83,750-square-foot warehouse complex at the corner of Princeton Street and Texas Avenue, are also seeking approval for a new mixed-use planned development on their 10-acre site. The goal is to entitle the property and then put it on the market.

Jim Hall with HDSi has submitted a framework master plan that creates a pair of mixed-use residential buildings with a maximum height of 100 feet, structured parking and allowances for 600 residential units. A new east-west road would bisect the project, which would have apartment buildings on either side, and would provide cross access to the new YMCA facility next door. Up to 20,000 square feet of combined office and retail uses would occupy the ground floors of the buildings, fronting on the new thru road. The project would be divided into two phases with each able to function as stand-alone developments.

Vertical construction on a new 27,512-square-foot Publix will begin in mid-2022 on the site of the original Dr. Phillips packing house at the northeast corner of Princeton and Orange Blossom Trail.

New Mixed Use Project in Orlando’s Packing District; October 7, 2021

Packing District warehouses give way to make room for more apartments

The four parcels in blue will be the site for Embrey Development's second apartment complex in the Packing District. Outlined in red is the K and D Investments property where the owners are seeking entitlements for 600 residential units and 20,000 square feet of office and retail uses.
The four parcels in blue will be the site for Embrey Development’s second apartment complex in the Packing District. Outlined in red is the K and D Investments property where the owners are seeking entitlements for 600 residential units and 20,000 square feet of office and retail uses. (Orange County Property Appraiser/HDSi)

Dr. Phillips Charities, master developer of the 202-acre Packing District has applied for demolition permits for four buildings fronting on Orange Blossom Trail southwest of Princeton Street. Two of the buildings had previously been identified as potential sites for adaptive reuse in the Packing District master plan, but they will instead be razed to make way for a second phase of apartments by Embrey Partners which is now leasing in The Cannery apartments in the district.

Texas-based Embrey Partners has filed a master plan with the city of Orlando for the 350-unit multifamily community. The location sits directly across Orange Blossom Trail from the Packing District food hall, which has an approved master plan. No construction plans have been submitted for the food hall, which is one of the only buildings that will feature an adaptive reuse redevelopment.

A new Publix will anchor the retail center just south of The Cannery at the Packing District apartments.
A new Publix will anchor the retail center just south of The Cannery at the Packing District apartments. (Handout)

The Cannery offers 307 residential units immediately north of the Publix-anchored shopping center. Featured amenities include a pool and courtyard; two additional courtyards with entertainment areas; a lounge with roof deck; a resident lounge, a Wi-Fi lounge and game room; fitness facility with yoga and spin rooms; a dog park and dog wash; a bike shop; micro offices and a package room.

Meanwhile, the owners of Princeton Commerce Center, an 83,750-square-foot warehouse complex at the corner of Princeton Street and Texas Avenue, are also seeking approval for a new mixed-use planned development to complement the Packing District.  Jim Hall with HDSi has submitted a framework master plan for the 10-acre site that creates a pair of mixed-use residential buildings with a maximum height of 100 feet, structured parking and allowances for 600 residential units. A new east-west road would bisect the project, which would have apartment buildings on either side, and would provide cross access to the new YMCA facility next door. Up to 20,000 square feet of combined office and retail uses would occupy the ground floors of the buildings, fronting on the new thru road. The project would be divided into two phases with each able to function as stand-alone developments.

Hall said he is working on behalf of K and D Investments, which has owned the property since 1999. “We’re just taking it through entitlements, and then they’ll be able to take it to market,” he said.

HDSi designing a new community for DR Horton in Groveland; August 21, 2021

HDSi has been working on a new community for DRH since October in Groveland.  The 1,500 acre property is entitled into two different forms of community; Village and hamlet.  Each has a Form based Code to set development standards.  The Village is more dense than the Hamlet but each require a pedestrian community orientation.  For the Village, the land is low and flat with some mature tree stands.  HDSi used this natural condition to create a community of linked neighborhoods by street and trails as well a Village core with commercial, apartments, town homes and bungalows.  For the Hamlet, the Code requires significant open space for the rolling land.  HDSi created two neighborhoods separated by lowland in a classic grid arrangement.  The Village will be submitted for first review in September.

South Lake Crossings moving forward; August 20, 2021

Lennar Homes pays $20.7M for first half of Wellness Way project

Lennar Homes is the contracted buyer for all 1,850 single-family homesites in the Wellness Way PUD in Clermont. The homebuilder paid $20.7 million this week for the first half of the project.
Lennar Homes is the contracted buyer for all 1,850 single-family homesites in the Wellness Way PUD in Clermont. The homebuilder paid $20.7 million this week for the first half of the project. (HDSi)

Lennar Homes closed this week on the first takedown for the Wellness Way master-planned community, which comprised a little over half of the approved 1,850 single-family home lots in the Clermont mixed-use district.

Seller Jim Karr said Lennar paid $20.7 million for the entitled land and is expected to close on the balance of the project in two years. Karr said his company would keep all of the land west of Hancock Road, which is entitled for commercial, multifamily and employment use.

“Lennar is going to be putting in Wellness Way and bringing utilities down from Clermont,” Karr said. The builder also will extend Hancock Road from Hartwood Marsh south to Wellness Way. “This is the first step of a network that will be built with roads and utilities,” he said.

Karr said he spent years negotiating with neighboring property owners and swapping land so that he could acquire all of the necessary right-of-way, which will be donated to the county in exchange for impact fee credits.  Jim Hall of HDSi assisted Karr and provided all community design and entitlements for the project.

Lennar Orlando Division President Brock Nicholas said the company will start mass grading fairly soon, but the horizontal site work and utility work will take at least a year.

The residential portion of the community east of Hancock is approved only for detached single-family homes and townhomes. The lot widths range from 18 feet wide for the townhomes up to 70 feet wide for the detached single-family homes.

“We’ll have six different housing products: street-loaded townhomes with single car garage; alley-loaded townhomes with double garage; cottage homes and manor homes that are alley-loaded, and estates and executive homes that are street-loaded,” he said. “There will be innovative features incorporated into the community, as the area suggests.”

The homebuilder’s Next Gen floorplans will also be available in the community. They are designed to appeal to multi-generational buyers by incoprorating a guest suite with a separate entrance, living area and kitchenette, within the house.

All of the homes will offer Lennar’s “Everything’s Included” package, which includes smart home technology, upgraded finishes and energy-efficient features. But designs and pricing won’t be released until next year, at the earliest.

The PUD identifies a 10-acre amenity site on Wellness Way, as well as numerous public and private parks. It also reserves 15 acres for a future charter school and 1.5 acres for a new fire station.

Apartments near the new Apopka hospital; June 23, 2021

Property owners in Apopka begin prepping land for new multifamily development

To the north of Medicine Lake, a company linked to managers at First Team Commercial is planning to build a 304-unit apartment community. To the south (starred), property owners are prepping the land to accommodate up to 352 multifamily units.
To the north of Medicine Lake, a company linked to managers at First Team Commercial is planning to build a 304-unit apartment community. To the south (starred), property owners are prepping the land to accommodate up to 352 multifamily units. (City of Apopka/Orange County Property Appraiser)

Dual apartment complexes are being planned around Medicine Lake in Apopka.

While Winter Park-based real estate firm First Team Commercialworks to score final site plan permits for its planned 304-unit apartment community at 2302 Ocoee-Apopka Rd., the property owners just south are beginning to prep their land for a similar development.

According to an application submitted in Apopka, property owners David and Michelle Leon are seeking to change the future land use designation of 17.85 acres to allow for a new apartment complex with entitlements to build up to 352 multifamily units.

Currently, the maximum allowable use on the site would be 211 residential dwelling units. The Leons appointed planning consultant Jim Hall of Hall Development Services to change the current land use to High-Density Residential 25 (HDR-25), allowing a developer to build an additional 141 units.

David and Michelle Leon have owned the land for 20 years. The couple purchased the property in 2001 for $325,000, records show.

The property is located on the west side of Ocoee-Apopka Road and Keene Road intersection, less than a mile away from the AdventHealth Apopka hospital at 2100 Ocoee-Apopka Road.

In a statement submitted to city planners, Hall said a PUD will be proposed after the map amendment and prior to transmittal hearings. Hall confirmed the plans are meant to accommodate future multifamily development but did not respond to questions regarding a future purchaser and developer.

Just north of the site, on 16.5 acres north of Medicine Lake, First Team Commercial plans to build a seven-building, garden-style apartment community. The property owners are related to the family members that founded Herman J. Heidrich & Sons, a prominent fruit and produce business that grew into Florida’s largest shipper of fresh fruit in the 1960s.

According to Preservation Winter Park, a blog run by members of an organization of the same name that supports preservation efforts, both properties were originally owned by members of the Gwathmey family, who had been physicians and citrus growers in the area in the late 1930s.

Around 2005 the Leons moved a house, built on the property that the organization strongly suspects was built and designed by architect James Gamble Rogers in 1938. According to the blog article, a developer previously offered to purchase the land surrounding Medicine Lake with plans for multifamily development, but the deal fell through after the 2008 recession.

Windermere approves major downtown redevelopment; June 9, 2021

After two years of negotiating, six public meetings and a myriad of issues large and small, the Town Council approved the 2 acre redevelopment on Main Street last night in a unanimous vote.  Jim Hall of HDSi is the team leader on this project for long time client Jim Karr and his partners.  The existing realty building and three shops will be razed to make way for 21,750 square feet of new development which will include a restaurant, retail and office space.

A key to the project is preserving large live oaks on site as well as a state of the art septic system.  The proposal follows the Town’s 2004 downtown overlay in all respects.  This redevelopment will be a significant upgrade for the Town’s downtown.

Mid Rise Apartment community adds mixed use to south Orlando; May 14, 2021

Condemned hotel turned condominium complex will be demolished and redeveloped

Blossom Park was originally built as a Days Inn in the 1970s.
Blossom Park was originally built as a Days Inn in the 1970s. (Jacob Langston, Orlando Sentinel)

Records show affiliated company Landstreet Project LLC paid $4 million to purchase the shuttered 340-unit Blossom Park community at 1851 W. Landstreet Rd. in March.

Harry Collison Jr., a director at Winter Park-based Collison Capital and a long time HDSi client,, served as the court-appointed receiver for the property in the deal.

Collison told GrowthSpotter the new owners have formalized an agreement with Orange County to demolish the seven-building complex and settle some outstanding fines against the property, which has been in receivership since 2010.

The property reportedly had accrued more than $19 million in liens and fines because of structural deterioration. The county agreed the new owner only had to pay $500,000. Earlier this year, a massive fire set a portion of the property ablaze.
Blossom Park was condemned and evacuated in 2015 for being inhabitable.
Blossom Park was condemned and evacuated in 2015 for being inhabitable. (Orange County)

“The property is in a state of disrepair,” project planner and consultant Jim Hall of Hall Development Services, said. “It was always a hotel, but at some point, during this century someone sold units as residential condos. That’s when maintenance started to go downhill.”

Blossom Park was originally built as a Days Inn in the 1970s until the former owners started selling hotel units as condominiums in 2003. For years the property was unkempt and crime-ridden.

Residents at the complex vacated the premises in 2015 when an Orange County code enforcement officer deemed the complex as unfit for human inhabitation. An engineering study reportedly revealed a host of problems, including stairwells in danger of collapsing.

David Lundberg with Commercial Equity Partners (CEP) represented the buyers in the most recent deal.

“I believe this property has been abandoned longer than any other property in Orange County history and had the largest number of violations,” he said.

Lundberg adds he and the new owner believe one of the best uses for the property would be affordable housing.

Orange County has historically lacked a sufficient amount of affordable housing for its residents, especially the many who work in the low-wage-paying jobs nearby in the service and tourism industries that help fuel its economy.

The property, located northwest of the intersection between Orange Blossom Trail and Landstreet Road, spans about seven acres. It sits just south of the Atlantic Coast Railroad, near major roadways including U.S. Route 441, S.R. 528, and Florida’s Turnpike.

A Land Use Plan recently submitted in Orange County shows Sands Capital intends to develop a 250-unit, garden-style apartment community. The units will be a mix of one-bedroom and two-bedroom apartments.

Sands Capital partner Michael Simcha was not immediately available to comment.

The company operates as a lender and investment firm that specializes in providing investors secured loans to purchase property, finance construction, and rehabilitate neglected properties, according to its website.

Sands Capital worked with title insurance company Riverside Abstract to close the deal.

Grande Lakes residences a great success; May 10, 2021

Newly built homes in the Grande Lakes Resort community in Orlando sell for more than $2M

Single-family homes at Ritz-Carlton Residences Orlando span about 3,000 square feet.
Single-family homes at Ritz-Carlton Residences Orlando span about 3,000 square feet. (Ian Roth/Stockworth Realty Group)

What previously served as overflow parking for The Ritz-Carlton and J.W. Marriott hotels, is now shaping up to be an exclusive residential community accessible only through a few grand entryways into the Grande Lakes Orlando Resort.

Nine modern, custom homes have been completed and are move-in ready, according to a news release. Property records show three contracts have closed for a little more than $6.9 million.

Single-family homes in the community feature a gourmet kitchen, a two-car garage and a private pool.
Single-family homes in the community feature a gourmet kitchen, a two-car garage and a private pool. (Ian Roth/Stockworth Realty Group)

Buyers include Indian River Transport Company President and CEO John Harned Jr., New York-based real estate investor Bradford Mott, and husband and wife Dr. Raj Gutta and surgeon Dr. Anita Saluja.

Each residence sold for about $2.3 million. Prices in the community typically range from $2.15 million to $2.83 million. Single-family homes in the community are about 3,000 square feet and include a gourmet kitchen, a two-car garage and a private pool.

Residents have access to resort amenities, such as the 18-hole Greg Norman-designed championship golf course and the Ritz-Carlton Spa. Residents also have access to a private clubhouse for the community with a full-time concierge that offers housekeeping services.

Stockworth Realty Group’s Julie Bettosini and Erin Wanner are handling sales. Jones Clayton Construction Inc. is the builder. Marc-Michaels Interior Design is the interior designer.

The 37-lot subdivision is Orlando’s first and only Ritz-Carlton-branded single-family community, born out of a licensing agreement between Unicorp National Developments Inc. and the luxury hospitality company.

Similarly, New York-based GFI Development Company is currently building 15 single-family waterfront home villas as part of The Ritz-Carlton Residences Miami Beach condo tower, completed in 2019 in the city’s Mid Beach neighborhood.

A company tied to Unicorp purchased the roughly 11-acre property in Orlando for $3 million in 2017 from Marriott International, which retained the property after selling a majority of the resort property to Blackstone in 2015.

The transaction set off the creation of Unicorp’s 37-lot Ritz-Carlton Residences Orlando subdivision, which sits within the 500-acre Grande Lakes Orlando Resort, located southwest of the Central Florida Parkway and John Young Parkway intersection.

Interiors for homes at the Ritz-Carlton Residences Orlando community are designed by Marc Michaels.
Interiors for homes at the Ritz-Carlton Residences Orlando community are designed by Marc Michaels. (Ian Roth/Stockworth Realty Group)

It consists of the 582-room Ritz-Carlton and 1,000-room JW Marriott hotels, which sold for about $900 million in late 2018 to a partnership between Trinity Real Estate Investments and Elliott Management Corporation.  The original planning, design and entitlements for Grande Lakes resort was led by Jim Hall of HDSi.

The partners have since poured millions into updating rooms and expanding its amenities.

Earlier this year, The Ritz-Carlton Orlando, Grande Lakes completed a $30 million renovation that went into modernizing guest rooms, building a new luxury pool, and updating its Club Lounge.

Restaurants at the resort include the recently opened Knife & Spoon led by award-winning chef John Tesar, and PRIMO led by multiple-time James Beard award-winning chef Melissa Kelly.

Brokers at Stockworth Realty compare Metro Orlando’s luxury market to the ranks of notable cities where millionaires pay top-notch prices for residences, such as New York, Miami Beach, Singapore and the Grand Caymans.

“The luxury market continues to perform very well in Central Florida in spite of the global challenges of the past year,” Wanner said in a prepared statement. “We are pleased to see a continued increase in buyer interest.”

According to a market report by Stockworth Realty, there are few opportunities to buy a new luxury waterfront home, but sale transactions are up.

Data stated in the report found an annual median year-over-year inventory of luxury product (priced $1M and up) in Orange County is down, while overall sale volume and transactions are increasing.

Last year’s luxury residential sale volume jumped to $962 million across 560 transactions, up from $796 million in sales volume across 476 transactions in 2019. Year-over-year inventory went down from 421 units in 2019 to 353 units in 2020.

The Ritz-Carlton Residences Orlando wouldn’t be Unicorp’s first luxury single-family home development. The company, which is behind large mixed-use projects like O-Town West, also developed the Carmel community by Orlando’s Dr. Phillips neighborhood.

Carmel, an 11-lot residential subdivision, sold out earlier this year with Whittall acquiring the largest residential lot for his own 20,000-square-foot mansion.