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Two multifamily projects in Kissimmee and Orlando just scored financing to start construction on projects that will bring nearly 650 new luxury units to market.

Centennial Bank recently closed a $68 million deal with Unicorp National Developments to construct The Bentley, a 396-unit midrise apartment community at O-Town West.

“We broke ground two weeks ago — the same day we closed the loan,” Unicorp CEO Chuck Whittall said. “We’ll be complete around the end of next year.”

The Bentley is among the first residential sections to be built in the 76-acre O-Town West mixed-use district. The multi-phased project in Orlando’s Dr. Phillips area is approved for over 1,500 residential units with retail, dining and office space divided among four sub-districts: Village at O-Town West, The Crossings at O-Town West, the Town Center at O-Town West and the Boardwalk at O-Town West.

The Bentley apartments (white) are located in the Town Center subdistrict of O-Town West, south of Publix.
The Bentley apartments (white) are located in the Town Center subdistrict of O-Town West, south of Publix.

The Bentley’s on-site amenity programming will include a resort-style swimming pool with jacuzzi, resident lounge with a coffee bar, a social area featuring billiards and arcade games, a theater room, entertainment lanai with HDTV, ZEN garden with hanging moon chairs and water features, outdoor walking trail, a firepit, 24-hour fitness center with TRX and yoga studio, a conference room, bike rentals, outdoor gaming areas offering cornhole, Jenga and putting green, and electric car charging stations.

Centennial Bank has established a six-year relationship with builder Unicorp, providing financing for some of the company’s largest developments, including the Venetian Isle apartment complex in Windermere and the Publix-anchored Celebration Pointe shopping center, which breaks ground Monday. To date, the bank has financed more than $149 million for the company’s commercial real estate projects.

Unicorp also closed a $33 million construction loan from Seaside Bank in March for the Publix-anchored retail and offices in the Town Center, which is now under construction.

“We’re starting to see capital markets loosen now,” Whittall said. “We’re still not back to where we were pre-COVID.”

Whittall said last year he was only able to secure financing for half the construction cost of his $90 million Avenue at Oakland multifamily project, which opens later this year. “So that took more equity.”

Unicorp is well underway on the site development work for The Glass House, a trio of 8-story residential towers in the Village subdistrict. The company received a $77 million loan in December from Goldman Sachs to finance Phase 1 of that project, which includes the first tower and the lagoon amenity. Whittall said the first Glass House tower should open in late 2022, around the same time as The Bentley.

Whittall said the retail at O-Town West is about 90% leased, while at O-Town Village, White Castle is days away from opening and Portillos is waiting on its final inspections.

Indiana-based Garrett Residential received a $33 million loan from Pinnacle Bank for its 250-unit project in Kissimmee’s hot LOOP submarket. Last week Garrett paid $5 million for the 12-acre site, where it will build a new community called Ebbtide Village and Flats. David Calcanis of Colliers International represented the seller of the property, which is located at the intersection of Dyer Boulevard and West Carroll Street.

Marketing Director Nikki Crosby told GrowthSpotter the firm is ready to begin site development soon and anticipates a 20-month construction period.

“We’re full-steam ahead,” she said. “We expect about a 4-6 month from the time we deliver our first units to completion.”

Garrett entered the Florida market in 2020 with its first Big House apartment community, Verso, in the Four Corners area. The developer sold that community earlier this month for $57.75 million.

Big House apartments are a trademark design by Texas-based Humphreys & Partners that utilize smaller buildings with 6-14 units, meant to look like a single large residence. Typically most units have private garage entries, large closets and spacious interiors with kitchen islands.

Garrett is also using another Humphreys trademark design, the E-Urban, for the larger building. The building will have a central courtyard with a resort-style pool, and the clubhouse and fitness center will be incorporated into the main building.

New York-based Sovereign Properties received $59 million in bridge financing from Varde Capital this week for its Dolce Living Royal Palm apartment community in Kissimmee’s Four Corners submarket. The 326-unit complex is currently in its initial lease-up period and will be completed in May.

JLL Capital Markets worked on behalf of the developer to secure the 3-year loan, which allows the developer to retire the existing constriction loan and preferred equity, lower the sponsor’s cost of capital as they begin to lease-up the property, fund remaining construction costs to complete the project and return a significant portion of the sponsor’s invested equity.

Senior Managing Director Gregory David Nalbandian said there was considerable competition to finance the project. “Taking advantage of a very robust multi-housing lending market, we were able to arrange a very aggressive loan at a very attractive interest rate that significantly reduced the sponsor’s cost of capital while returning a significant portion of their equity well before stabilization.”

Once fully completed, the apartments will consist of one-, two- and three-bedroom units averaging 956 square feet. The apartments will feature best-in-class amenities, including a swimming pool, media center, movie theater, billiards and game room and golf simulator.

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