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.

Happy Third Anniversary; May 4th, 2021

HDSi is pleased to announce our third anniversary of business.  While 2020 will be remembered for a myriad of reasons, to HDSi it was a watershed year of successfully completed projects under stressful conditions.  This has continued in 2021 with hopefully the significant reduction of the pandemic as the year progresses.  To all of our clients, team members and associated professionals, HDSi proudly congratulates them on jobs well done.

Large Mixed Use Project in Osceola County Moving Forward; April 28, 2021

New mixed-use districts in Osceola are being planned for 14,000-plus homes

APR 23, 2021 AT 4:39 PM

Osceola County is wrapping up the master planning effort for its two final mixed-use districts. District 5 abuts the South Lake Toho element, which have already been approved. The 365-acre Yates assemblage, circled in white, could be added to the final plan. (Rj Whidden and Associates).  Jim Hall of HDSi represents the largest land owner in the study with over 5,000 acres.

Osceola County is in the final stretch of a two-year planning effort that will determine how large swaths of rural land south of St. Cloud develop over the next decade as the region’s population growth continues at its torrid pace.

The county engaged planning firm RJ Whidden in 2019 to create the Conceptual Master Plan (CMP) for the Mixed-Use Districts 5 and 6, the final two districts in the county’s urban service area. The 8,517-acre study area stretches from the Florida’s Turnpike east along the Alligator Chain of Lakes to U.S. 192 at Old Melbourne Highway.

After a series of online information meetings led by Assistant Community Development Administrator Susan Caswell, the county will host a series of three hourlong in-person open house sessions Tuesday evening, April 27, at the St. Cloud Marina banquet hall beginning at 6 pm to get feedback on the initial draft CMP, which calls for 14,010 residential units in compact, walkable neighborhoods.

“What I mean about walkable is not that they have a sidewalk,” Caswell said. “They need more than that. Basically, they’re designed in a way that you can walk to places.”

Kindred, Tohoqua and Edgewater are three communities in various stages of development within the East of Toho Mixed-Use District. Tavistock Development Group is implementing the county’s Northeast District Element to become its new Sunbridge community.

“These places are interesting. And you know, that’s just a straightforward quality of life issue,” Caswell said. “They function well. They have a mix of uses, they have places to gather. They have nice residential services that serve residential at different scales.”

Some projects within Districts 5 and 6, such as Ameratrail, Lake Gentry Landings and Pine Grove already have approved mixed-use concept plans. Those have already been incorporated into the draft CMP. But adopting a CMP doesn’t necessarily mean the areas will develop any sooner. The Lake Gentry Landings Concept Plan was approved in 2014.

And the massive Green Island Ranch property makes up a large portion of the county’s South Lake Toho Element. It has had entitlements for up to 17,000 residential units since the CMP was adopted in 2009.

“What’s important to understand is this is not a development program. This is a long-term plan,” Caswell said. “We’re not dictating when this area develops. We’re dictating how it develops, so that when that happens, which is more based on market forces than anything we do, it will happen according to the rules we set in place.”

The properties marked blue are already in the mixed use district. The parcels marked yellow currently have Low Density Residential future land use, but they could be added to the district when the conceptual master plan is adopted. (Osceola County)

Some landowners on the western edge of District 5, adjacent to the Green Island Ranch, have inquired about having their property added to the CMP.  KPM Franklin’s Murry Bullion represents a local land developer who is under contract for about 365 acres at Canoe Creek Road and Fannie Bass Road.

Several of the parcels in the assemblage are already in the MXD, but the largest parcel, owned by Henry C. Yates, currently has Low Density Residential future land use. It’s just east of the proposed interchange between the Turnpike and future SouthShore Expressway toll road, which calls for a more intense, urban development pattern.

This map shows the proximity of the Yates assemblage to the future turnpike interchange and urban center and future industrial park in the South Lake Toho CMP. (Osceola County)

Bullion told the DRC the buyers want to seek mixed-use future land use and zoning to build a community with up to 1,000 homes.

Bullion told GrowthSpotter they initially looked at doing 3,000 dwelling units but realized that density would be unrealistic, given the amount of floodplains and wetlands on the site. The portions of the site that were included in the study area reserve large amounts for conservation. He said he plans to attend the open house Tuesday and will schedule follow-up meetings with county staff regarding how to incorporate the Yates property in the plan.

The CMP creates a framework for future road networks, including future phases of the Northeast Connector toll road, which would extend from the turnpike north to Nova Road. The Central Florida Expressway Authority is currently conducting a Project Development and Environment study (PD&E) for the NE Connector segment from Nova Road north into Sunbridge.

Caswell said the CMP also would create public parks and nature preserves along the Alligator Chain of Lakes and its canals.

The draft CMP shows a few potential sites for urban centers, but it doesn’t include calculations for future multifamily residential housing, offices or other commercial spaces. Those numbers will be added later, after the public workshops.


HDSi leads development in Kelly Park in north Apopka; March 24, 2021

D.R. Horton signs onto planned subdivisions in Apopka

D.R. Horton and Mattamy Homes are looking to introduce more than 400 single-family homes and townhomes in Apopka.
D.R. Horton is looking to introduce more than 400 single-family homes and townhomes in Apopka. (City of Apopka)

Records show D.R. Horton has entered into an agreement with property owner Orlando Beltway Associates to purchase and develop 56 acres of land within Apopka’s Kelly Park Interchange Mixed-Use District — a zoning overlay created by city officials to help drive future development and economic activity to the once sparsely developed region.

Orlando Beltway Associates is creating a 202-lot subdivision directly south of D.R. Horton’s Bridle Path single-family home community. The recently submitted subdivision plan shows the community will connect to Bridle Path and feature 125 single-family homes and 77 townhomes by D.R. Horton. Jim Hall of HDSi led the concept planning and entitlement of both projects as well as assisting in amending the City’s Form Based Code.  The subdivision plan shows a clubhouse with a pool. VHB is the project engineer.

The proposed subdivision features 125 single-family homes and 77 townhomes by D.R. Horton, and connects to Bridle Path up north.
The proposed subdivision features 125 single-family homes and 77 townhomes by D.R. Horton, and connects to Bridle Path up north. (City of Apopka)

The BurnBrae Companies, a real estate company headquartered in Washington, D.C. and a long time HDSi client, planned the 150-lot Bridle Path residential subdivision to the north. Last year, Forestar Real Estate Group, a land developer and holding company for D.R. Horton, paid $4.18 million for the project.

In 2018, Orlando Beltway Associates sold about 51 acres across from its subdivision to Orlando Health’s new medical campus; also a Jim Hall led project. The property at 5401 Effie Dr. sold for about $2.34 million.  Before the closing, the hospital announced it envisioned building a medical campus that would serve communities in both Apopka and Mt. Dora at the location. No construction plans have been filed yet.

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.