HDSi leads Downtown Windermere redevelopment; February 16,2021

Developer Jim Karr and Westgate’s Jim Gissy ignite plans for commercial development in downtown Windermere

The 2.2-acre lot sits across from a new 11,000-square-foot municipal town complex under construction.
The 2.2-acre lot sits across from a new 11,000-square-foot municipal town complex under construction. (Orange County Property Appraiser)

Downtown Windermere may be getting more commercial space.

Veteran developer Jim Karr and business partner Jim Gissy, executive vice president of Westgate Resorts, working with Jim Hall of HDSi, are pushing forward a development plan that would essentially triple the amount of commercial space they own along Main Street.

The property, located on at main entrance into Windermere’s town center, currently contains two single-family homes, the office of Keene’s Pointe Realty and Allen’s Creamery & Coffee House, Elysium Interiors and a hair salon.

Town planner Wade Trim received preliminary development plans and an application to rezone the property from the partners last month. The plans go before Windermere’s Development Review Board Feb. 16. From there, plans are scheduled to go before the Town Council in March for a first public hearing.

Karr and Gissy are seeking to demolish the existing structures and develop up to 21,850 square feet of commercial space. Conceptual plans breaks down the development to 6,600 square feet of office space, 11,500 of retail space and 3,750 square feet of restaurant space.

Karr told GrowthSpotter he and Gissy plan to hold onto the properties for the long-term and fill up the space with local businesses that can help serve the Town of Windermere.

At least one property within the assemblage has been in Karr’s family since 1989. Before moving to a home on the west side of Lake Butler, Karr spent most of his life living in Windermere.

“It’s where my mom and brother live,” he said. “It’s changed a lot. There just hasn’t been much development.”

The town hosts weekly farmers’ markets and, prior to the pandemic, monthly food truck events. It’s a growing small town, but it has not added more space for new businesses, Karr said.

To move forward project would have to stay consistent with the requirements of the Town Center Overlay District and provide appropriate access, away from the neighboring residential properties. Town staff members have also discussed preserving Heritage Oak trees and a 20-foot buffer and masonry wall along Oakdale Street to separate the development from neighboring homes.

Most of the properties were acquired by Karr and Gissy in 2009 for $500,000, records show. According to an article by the West Orange Times & Observer, former owner Kevin Azzouz of Kosta Holdings tried and failed to approve a proposed 63,000-square-foot development called Main Street Shoppes.

Across the street from the property, the Town of Windermere is currently building a new 11,000-square-foot municipal town complex that will hold its town administration building offices, police facilities and public works department.

Karr is a local real estate developer and major landowner throughout Central Florida. He and HDSi are working with Lennar Homes which plans to build nearly 2,000 homes on property he owns in Clermont for a master-planned community called Wellness Way, near Disney.

Apart from his role in Westgate, Gissy is also an early investor of First Green Bank. He and Karr often work together in real estate deals.

HDSi leads a major new convention hotel design; January 7, 2021

Skorman Construction preps land near SeaWorld for dense hotel and retail development

The proposed hotel development is being planned on a 6.5-acre site along Westwood Boulevard, next to a recently completed Tru by Hilton hotel.
The proposed hotel development is being planned on a 6.5-acre site along Westwood Boulevard, next to a recently completed Tru by Hilton hotel. (Orange County)

Skorman bought the property in 2017 as part of a larger 11-acre assemblage that included an adjacent 4.5-acre site — now a 259-room Tru by Hilton hotel developed by Miami-based Epelboim Development Group and completed in September.  Noel Epelboim, president and CEO of Epelboim Development Group, told GrowthSpotter he had been working closely with the development team to clear an access easement through the middle of the parcels and add some cross access easement between the three lots.

Skorman buys Westwood Blvd land for Tru hotel partner & future development

The proposed DP for the project next door shows a hotel, up to 35 stories tall, with 1,000 hotel rooms and a multilevel parking garage along I-4. Additionally, plans include up to 4,900 square feet of retail space across two separate pads and two restaurant locations: one large with the capacity for 420 seats and a smaller restaurant with 180 seats.

Conceptual plans show the proposed hotel could feature up to 35 floors, though the Development Plan only features 28.
Conceptual plans show the proposed hotel could feature up to 35 floors, though the Development Plan only features 28. (Orange County)

Kimley-Horn & Associates is the civil engineer and Atlanta-based Smallwood, Reynolds, Stewart, Stewart & Associates, Inc. is the architect.  HDSi’s associated landscape architectural team of Libra Design Group is providing landscape design and hardscape.

The property falls within the I-Drive District overlay area, meaning the developer must adhere to specific standards that were adopted in 2017 as a means to spur more urbanized and pedestrian-friendly developments.

Paul Sexton, vice president of HREC Investment Advisors, said he’s seeing a transition of new hotel development moving to areas where Skorman’s properties are located — just outside of the core center of Orlando’s tourism corridor, but close enough to its giant theme parks and the Orange County Convention Center.

He adds hotel brands like Marriott and Hilton are seldom built in the core because of a lack of land. Hotel brands are looking for space to build, and proximity to other hotel brands because that’s what guests like to see, he said.

HDSi gains approval for another Apopka Kelly Park neighborhood; October 21, 2020

After three years of work and negotiation with the City and the School Board, Apopka approved a 202 home neighborhood last night.  It is the third project in the Kelly Park area for Jim Hall; two residential neighborhoods as well as a hospital.  Kelly Park surrounds the Kelly Park Road/SR 429 interchange.  Challenges have included utility funding, revising the City’s Form Based Code and being the first applicant in a large mixed use area scheduled for over 10,000,000 square feet of non-residential uses and thousands of homes and apartments.  HDSi represented the land owner and worked closely with the developer of the first neighborhood; DR Horton.  The neighborhoods were designed in tandem with shared streets, trails and upland preserves.

Talmadge Gardens in Deland, Florida is the next HDSi community; October 1, 2020

500 acres located on International Speedway Boulevard in Deland is the latest design project for HDSi.  Primarily a residential community located across from the high school, the housing types range from townhomes and narrow lots  on up to estate homes on Lake Talmadge.  The neighborhood design emphasizes a walkable community with access to the school and a commercial center.  A grid street pattern evolves into a more classic suburban street pattern near the lake and the estate homes.

HDSi leads approval of O Town West; $1 Billion new mixed use center; June 15, 2020

Zoning approval led by HDSi was granted to Unicorp Development for this massive mixed use center in Orange County, Florida 1 mile north of the Disney World entrance.  The I-4 frontage parcels are anchored by the new Marriott timeshare international headquarters in a 25 story building.  There is also entertainment and hotel adjacent to the headquarters building.  Other uses include dense residential towers and retail related to the tourists.  Farther west is a lower density residential community anchored by a Publix shopping center.  There is a high school to be developed between the two phases and there is also an adjacent middle school.  The new interchange with I-4 to be developed by 2022 makes this mixed use center a dynamic new opportunity.

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Jim Hall helps mentor UCF students in real estate development; April 21, 2020

We were proud to watch our team of University of Central Florida real estate students present their vision for redevelopment of Orlando’s Fashion Square mall property last week during the UCF Case Competition, sponsored by NAIOP Central Florida Chapter. Dubbed “City Beautiful Development” students Ryan Griffith, Kyle Ruperto, CAPM, LEED GA, Matt Santangelo and Norven Erazo cooked up a highly creative and dense urban infill redevelopment concept (see site plan attached). They weren’t chosen as the winners, but it was fun to watch them grow during the semester. A big thanks to our fellow mentors on the team, which included Trevor Hall, Jr. of Colliers International, planner Jim Hall of HDSi, Darick Brokaw of Baker Barrios Architects, Billy Rodriguez and Colette Santana of JLL, Robert Luis Castillo of American Momentum Bank, and Drew Dawson of Tavistock Development Company.

(from LiknkedIn)

COVID causes havoc with development processing; March 24, 2020

Orange County cancels upcoming zoning meetings until further notice

A site plan for the O-Town West mixed-use development in Orange County. The project is one of several cases on hold to seek P&Z approvals.
A site plan for the O-Town West mixed-use development in Orange County. The project is one of several cases on hold to seek P&Z approvals.(Unicorp National Developments)

Orange County just confirmed it will be cancelling the next Planning and Zoning Commission meeting until further notice.

Late last week, Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings cancelled all advisory committee or board meetings for a minimum of 30 days. That pushed this month’s P&Z meeting to April 16, but that meeting was just cancelled.

Orange County spokesperson Despina McLaughlin told GrowthSpotter the county is in the process of scheduling a special PZC hearing, but there are no dates for any cases at this time.

The decision comes amid concerns about public gatherings as the spread of coronavirus keeps expanding in Florida. More than half of the state’s counties have at least one case and statewide totals continuing to climb.

As of Friday, the next Development Review Committee meeting date (April 22) is still on the book..

“However, given that two DRC meetings before have already been cancelled, it’s unknown whether or not we’ll be able catch up,” McLaughlin said. “This means that cases that were expected to be heard in April may actually get pushed back, too.”

Affected projects include Unicorp National Developments Inc.’s  (an HDSi client) massive O-Town West mixed-use development, which is slated to feature up to 1,500 residential units and a mix of retail, dining and office space.

Other major developments include Demetree Global’s Collegiate Village PD across from the University of Central Florida and Sun Terra Communities’ 530-acre Silverleaf mixed-use community in Horizon West.

“Developers may moan and groan, but it’s the right thing to do,” Jim Hall of Hall Development Services said.

Meanwhile, planners in Osceola County are telling developers to expect significant delays on rezoning applications due to the county’s inability to hold public hearings during the coronavirus pandemic.

The county also canceled Planning Commission meetings until further notice.

Housing Shortage in Orange County – Then why is it so hard to get a new project approved?; March 3, 2020

Orlando’s housing supply hit a record low this year, leaving a shortage of 6,500 homes

In January, there were just 7,030 homes on the market for sale, according to the most recent report from the Orlando Regional Realtors Association
In January, there were just 7,030 homes on the market for sale, according to the most recent report from the Orlando Regional Realtors Association (David Zalubowski/AP)

Orlando’s housing inventory hit a record low this year, signaling the continued turnaround from the Great Recession but also the tight squeeze on a region already dealing with a severe shortage of affordable homes.

In January, there were just 7,030 homes on the market for sale, according to the most recent report from the Orlando Regional Realtors Association, a 15% drop from the year prior and a nearly 60% decline since the end of the recession in 2009. While the shrinking supply is a reflection of the strong local economy — a stark contrast from the 25,000 homes for sale following the financial crisis — it leaves a shortfall of 6,595 homes and makes it all the more difficult for residents looking to buy a home.

“There’s a tremendous amount of new residents moving into Central Florida, and we’re not able to build houses fast enough, and that’s where we see that drop in numbers,” said Aldo Martin, owner of Bellavista Building Group in Maitland. “And that will probably go for a while until this migration into Florida flattens.”

The greatest shortfall is still among more affordable homes, with the median price of a home in Orlando hovering around $245,000, a nearly 8% increase since last year. Martin pointed to rising land values, competition for skilled labor and increasing material costs in explaining why it’s become less lucrative and more difficult for developers to build affordable homes.

The Orlando area is also ranked dead last among U.S. cities for affordable rental housing by the National Low Income Housing Coalition, with just 13 affordable and available rental homes for every 100 households who need them.

ORRA reports that there’s only a little more than a two-month supply of single-family homes priced below $300,000, almost three months worth of those priced between $300,000 and $399,000. By contrast, there is a nearly 8½-month supply of homes priced above $700,000 and more than a 17-month supply of those going for more than $800,000. Generally, a six-month supply indicates a market balanced between buyers and sellers.

“There is demand, but we’re struggling to feed that demand. If the consumer could afford a $400,000 home … we can produce that today and make a profit. But that’s not where the buyers are. The buyers are $300,000 and below. I still have buyers that come in and all they can afford is in the high $100,000s,” Martin said.



Golf Course Redevelopment in east Orange County, Florida; March 3, 2020

A majority of the subject parcels highlighted in white will be redeveloped to support a new 304 single-family subdivision.
A majority of the subject parcels highlighted in white will be redeveloped to support a new 304 single-family subdivision. (Orange County Property Appraiser/GrowthSpotter)

The EastWood Planned Development consists of about 1,200 acres, which include several large residential communities, a Publix-anchored neighborhood center and the fairways of the EastWood Golf Club at 13950 Golfway Boulevard.

BDC bought the land in 1993 and entitled its land use so it may support up to 2,320 residential dwelling units and 100,000 square feet of commercial space. The new plan would mean the community will reach its maximum buildout.
Single-family subdivisions in the PD feature proximity to the EastWood Golf Club with some homes boasting views of the golf course, but that may no longer be.
At a community meeting last month, golf course owners announced their intention to close the facility in August. The decision comes years after the owners wrestled with the rising expense of maintaining greens against the diminishing revenue of the golf course.

A Land Development Plan filed in Orange County shows BDC intends to take control of 72.5 acres of land, including existing golf course grounds.

The developer is seeking to build a 304-lot, single-family home subdivision. Jim Hall of Hall Development Services is the consultant and Hal Kantor of Lowndes is providing legal services.

In order to move forward with the project, BDC is requesting to allocate previously approved uses in the PD to count toward portions of the golf course.

At the community meeting last month drew about 1,000 people from Eastwood, and many disapproved of the plans. Residents aired concerns over traffic, flooding and schools overcrowding.

In 2015, the golf course owners attempted to launch a similar development. Their goal was to redevelop EastWood Golf Club into a mixed-use community with 300 homes and 70,000 square feet of commercial space, but those plans fell through.

Last year, GrowthSpotter reported plans by form Eden Multifamily to build 250 apartments on part of the Stoneybrook East Golf Club located just 1.3 miles south of EastWood Golf Club.



HDSi new neighborhood moves toward development; February 14, 2020

Plans call for up to 152 single-family homes west of Plymouth-Sorrento Road and east of SR 429.
Plans call for up to 152 single-family homes west of Plymouth-Sorrento Road and east of SR 429. (The BurnBrae Companies)

Homebuilder D.R. Horton is expanding its footprint in Apopka with the acquisition of Bridle Path, a 152-lot subdivision in the Kelly Park Road overlay.

The BurnBrae Companies, a real estate investment, development, and management company headquartered in Washington, D.C., assembled the 51-acre site and entitled the property last year, making Bridle Path one of the first single-family home community within the Kelly Park Interchange Form-Based Code area — a district created by city officials to help drive future development and economic activity to the city.

The once sparsely developed region is roughly halfway between the downtowns of Apopka and Mount Dora.

The purchasing entity, Forestar Real Estate Group paid $4.18 million for the project. Forestar is a land holding company for D.R. Horton.

Land Advisors Organization’s Orlando team of Mike Ripley and Steve Flanagan acted as transaction brokers for the sale.

The approved site plan, led by Jim Hall of HallDSi, for Bridle Path shows a mix of 50- and 55-foot lots. Amenities include a pool and cabana.

The community will have road connections with a proposed 50-acre subdivision immediately to the south. Orlando Beltway Associates is seeking approval for 140 single-family homes and about 60 townhomes; also a HallDSi project. The conceptual site plan shows a minimum lot width of 40 feet and 20 feet.

The developments are among the first to rise near the Kelly Park Road interchange — one of four interchanges opening in part of the $1.6 billion, 25-mile Wekiva Parkway project that will complete the beltway around northwest metropolitan Orlando.

The expressway was designed to provide an alternative to I-4, and relieve U.S. 441, S.R. 46 and other area roads of traffic congestion.