Bags, Inc. favored for more city-owned land next to Orlando HQ site, despite higher bid

Bob Moser
GrowthSpotter

Orlando-based Bags, Inc. has more public land in downtown Orlando in its crosshairs for a new corporate headquarters development, with its latest purchase offer favored over that of a higher bidder.  

A Bags affiliate paid more than $1.156 million on March 1 for approximately 1.23 acres of city-owned land on the southwest corner of W. South Street and S. Division Avenue, directly west of Amway Arena's Geico Parking Garage.

The surplus property surrounded a 0.175-acre parcel that the company bought back in 2009, which now gives it roughly 1.4 acres overall. 

But within the past month, the city advertised another five vacant lots for sale totaling 0.759 acres along Chapman Court, which lie directly south of Bags' land assemblage. 

That advertisement included a condition that the buyer develop a corporate training facility on the site of at least 10,000 square feet.

Bags told the city it would indeed build a training facility there, in conjunction with its plans next door for a five-story headquarters building with 84,000 square feet of office, 5,000 square feet of ground-floor retail and attached parking garage. 

Only two bids were filed for the new land offer. Bags' affiliate SSHP LLC proposed $662,100, in line with an independent appraisal. Local developer Robert J.S. "Bob" Snow of Snow & Associates topped that bid at $700,000. 

Staff reviewed the proposals, and the city's real estate manager and chief financial officer are recommending the lower bid from Bags. Orlando's City Council will vote May 1 on whether to accept that recommendation and execute a sale contract. 

If the new land is acquired, it would give Bags roughly 2.16 acres overall for a new office headquarters, training center and parking garage. A formal Master Plan has yet to be filed with the city.

"Several factors were considered when determining options for this site, including timeline, economic development and revitalization efforts in this area of Parramore," said city spokeswoman Jessica Garcia. 

Bags' proposal won over the city staff in part because it has the funding and a timeline to begin construction within 18 months of closing, she added. 

Officials with Bags did not respond to requests for comment Wednesday. 

While Snow's offer was higher, his vision for the property required the purchase of additional land nearby, and had a longer prospective timeline. 

Snow is credited with redeveloping downtown's Church Street Station in the 1970s into a highly successful shopping and dining district. He sold the property in 1989, and its popularity collapsed in the years following Downtown Disney's opening in 1997. 

Snow told GrowthSpotter he and investment partners are trying to accumulate land in the Parramore area, along Division Avenue and other blocks near Amway Arena, to contribute to the neighborhood's revitalization with new office and mixed-income housing.

His affiliate Church Street Square LLC owns a 0.413-acre parcel directly south of the Bags assemblage along Division Avenue, adjacent to the city land now for sale. 

Snow said he's trying to acquire more public and private land in the immediate area to build his own assemblage, and was frustrated Wednesday after learning his higher bid for the 0.759 acres along Chapman Court wasn't given preference. 

"We want to be part of the total revitalization of Parramore," Snow said. "It's something we've been working on for the last few years." 

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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