Duke Realty brings site under contract near downtown Orlando for potential warehouse

Duke Realty Corporation has nearly 19 acres of an urban infill site in downtown Orlando under contract, and is exploring up to 264,000 square feet of new warehouse space. 

The 18.8 acres lie in the 1200 block of S. Orange Blossom Trail, about eight blocks south of Camping World Stadium and bounded by Grand Street to the south and S. Rio Grande Avenue to the west.  

Two of those are five-lane major arterial roads. The property lies two miles from downtown Orlando, and is 1.5 miles or less from Interstate 4 and S.R. 408. 

Two construction-level executives with Duke Realty met three times with city planning staff through April and early May to discuss their options for 264,000 square feet of industrial on the site, according to a city spokeswoman. 

Those talks involved truck access to the site, massing and scale of the development, visual impact of truck loading areas and compatibility with the OBTNext Master & Implementation Plan. 

While the developer has the property under contract, a formal Master Plan has yet to be filed with the city. Local officials with Duke Realty did not respond to requests for comment on Friday.

The OBTNext plan was accepted by the Municipal Planning Board in April. Funded by a grant from the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity, it envisions inclusive, accessible and diverse growth policy for a 950-acre study area along 8.3 miles of Orange Blossom Trail near downtown. 

A national publicly-traded REIT, Duke Realty has 26 industrial properties across Central Florida totaling more than 4.2 million square feet, according to its regional webpage. That includes a 185,640-square-foot warehouse built last year near International Drive for local client PODS and its Orlando storage operations.

The prospective seller is an affiliate of Mears Transportation, founded in 1939 and now Orlando's leading taxi and private charter bus operator.

It assembled 13 parcels to form the site between 2008 and 2011. Previously a mobile home park, it was cleared in the years that followed and is zoned I-G, which allows warehouse development. 

Along with another 2.08 acres directly south, Mears was planning to build a new headquarters office and transportation center there. The site lies directly southeast of its current office and vehicle storage at Gore Street and Rio Grande Avenue.

But the company nixed that plan in recent years due, in part, to the growth of ride-sharing companies like Uber that have disrupted its business model. 

City planning staff raised the question with Duke Realty of extending Nashville Avenue northward through the site, which would effectively cut it in half. 

Any buyer should not be forced to do so, since in 2013 the city passed an ordinance vacating the Right-of-Way for Nashville Avenue through the property, in anticipation of Mears' development. 

Trevor Hall, Jr., executive managing director for Land Services with Colliers International Central Florida, has been marketing the site for Mears since early this year. 

"This is adaptive redevelopment to market demand, taking what used to be a crime-ridden mobile home park site and, we hope, replacing that with high-value investment and new employment," he said. 

"We've perceived there is opportunity for third-party logistics to be located there, being about three miles to downtown and four miles from College Park," Hall continued. "We have been pursuing job-creating development that we think will benefit the city's ad valorum revenue, impact fees and the OBT community redevelopment area. New employers at that location will help revitalize the Holden Heights neighborhood." 

Have a tip about Central Florida development? Contact me at bmoser@growthspotter.com, (407) 420-5685 or @bobmoser333. Follow GrowthSpotter on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

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