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The long-anticipated Apopka City Center springs to life Thanksgiving week with groundbreaking on the Hilton Garden Inn hotel, the cornerstone of the 35-acre mixed-use development spanning the north and south sides of the interchange of State Road 436 and U.S. Highway 441.

Taurus Southern Investments paid $534,143 on Nov. 9 for the hotel site at the northeast corner of McGee Avenue and E 6th Street. Company representatives will be joined by city officials Tuesday for a traditional shovel ceremony. Maitland-based Taurus was chosen by the city as master developer of the project in 2016.

“Breaking ground on the hotel is kind of a milestone,” said Jeff McFadden, Florida managing partner for Taurus. “Everybody wants to see the road work start and ground broken on the hotel.”

The road work McFadden referred to is a $4 million city-backed upgrade of the State Road 436/441 interchange. It includes road widening to add new lanes, new signaling, a “skywalk” overpass and resurfacing.

Early plans call for 207,000 square feet of dining, retail, hotel and office space at the Apopka City Center.
Early plans call for 207,000 square feet of dining, retail, hotel and office space at the Apopka City Center.

The developer said that project would start around the first of the year.

“The road work will really open the site for the balance of the development,” McFadden said.

The $100 million first phase of the Apopka City Center calls for a walkable city hub with 207,000 square feet of residential, dining, retail and office space.

McFadden said planners are “actively moving stuff around right now,” but original plans outlined a 12-building multifamily residential complex south of E 6th Street, office and retail structures along McGee Avenue, and restaurants and retail, including a large anchor store, straddling the 436/441 interchange.

The 114-room, four-story hotel will sit due west of Highland Manor, a Victorian mansion the city bought in 2006 and offers as an events center. Taurus purchased that facility from the city last year for about $300,000.

“I think the biggest thing is that we have Highland Manor, which is a signature building in Apopka, and the hotel will make this a really high-end, appropriate wedding venue where families can stay,” said Mayor Bryan Nelson, who will attend the groundbreaking. “There will be a nice walkway, a pond, we’re building fountains. It’ll be a picturesque venue for any kind of event you want to have … All those things will really excite a lot of folks.”

Eleven18 Architecture designed the hotel and developed the master plan for the entire site. Lochrane Engineering is the civil engineer, and Pinkerton & Laws is the hotel general contractor.

McFadden estimated hotel construction would take about 14 months, so the Hilton Garden Inn could open toward the end of 2019. Retail projects should be under way in the first quarter of next year. He said Taurus is “very close” on contracts with tenants, but he declined to name interested parties.

The first phase of the City Center will ultimately take three to four years to complete.

“It’s really kind of the gateway coming into Apopka from the east,” McFadden said. “It’s been a long-term desire of the city to have that developed.”

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