Camden buys downtown Orlando site, will lead completion of multifamily project

Camden Property Trust is taking the reins on completing development of Jefferson Apartment Group's second multifamily project in downtown Orlando's Thornton Park, paying more than $11.3 million for the land and opportunity to brand the building. 

Jefferson's sale, which closed April 12 and was recorded Monday in Orange County, involved the entire 1.78-acre block bounded by E. Church Street, S. Eola Drive, Mariposa Street and S. Osceola Avenue. 

Jefferson developed the nine-story, 299-unit 420 East apartments directly west, which opened last year two blocks south of Lake Eola. 

It has been planning the 12-story, 364-unit "520" apartments project since early 2015 as a followup to its 420 East project, and holds development and construction plan approvals from the city of Orlando.

Jefferson's Senior Vice President Mike Mulhall has forecasted multiple construction starts for the project since 2016 that never materialized. He and Camden's Chad Weaver, vice president of real estate investments for the east coast, began negotiating a co-developer agreement in the third quarter of last year. 

"Camden has been targeting Orlando for some time looking for opportunities such as this, so we're very excited," Weaver told GrowthSpotter on Monday. "Downtown Orlando is a vibrant community, and this location we love near Lake Eola with its high Walk Score, and Thornton Park is a highly desirable neighborhood." 

While both companies are referring to the project as a "co-development" effort, Camden's land purchase and investment moving forward make clear who will control the asset. 

The property will carry the Camden flag, with a specific location name still to be finalized. The unit count has been reduced in final construction plans to 360, and roughly 6,500 square feet of ground-floor retail space will be managed by Camden's own retail division.

Balfour Beatty Construction is general contractor on the project, and a groundbreaking is anticipated within 60 days, or by mid-June, Weaver said. 

The investment marks Camden's third Class A multifamily asset in the downtown submarket, following its $80.75 million purchase in February of Pizzuti's former The Sevens complex. The owner-operator also developed the 268-unit Camden Orange Court in 2008 at 668 N. Orange Ave.

Downtown Orlando's newest Class A apartment buildings are averaging monthly rents of more than $1,700, or just over $2 per square foot, per CBRE Orlando. Rents are forecasted to rise another 5.5 to 6 percent over the next 18 months across the entire Orlando MSA rental market.

Camden now owns 10 apartment properties in Greater Orlando totaling 3,873 units. 

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