CitiTower in Downtown Orlando lines up 1st retail tenant, on pace for July opening

Bob Moser
GrowthSpotter

Buffalo, N.Y.-based The Healthy Scratch may begin its expansion via Downtown Orlando, a prospective first retail tenant in the 25-story CitiTower apartments south of Lake Eola that's on pace to open in July, the building's developer told GrowthSpotter

Serving cold-pressed juices, smoothies, toasts, grain bowls and salads with all-natural ingredients, the business was founded last year by professional tennis player Jessica Pegula and her sister Kim, who are the daughters of Buffalo Bills owner and natural gas developer Terry Pegula. 

Work on the 233-unit apartment building is nearing completion after starting in October 2015, with general contractor PCL Construction recently securing the tower's 25th floor. 

It will be the tallest purpose-built apartment building in Central Florida, when considering The Vue and 55 West buildings in downtown were initially condominiums. 

"We're 75 percent complete on construction, and everything is on track for us to go for our certificate of occupancy in July and open the building that month," said Albert Socol, veteran architect and principal with CitiTower developer Summa Development Group

"We are in the process of signing a lease with The Healthy Scratch, they're a very unique operation and my wife and I, who love organic food options, were extremely impressed," he continued. "They will deliver food to the (apartment) units. The (Pegulas) did a market analysis, and believe they'll do extremely well here." 

The limited service restaurant is expected to take 2,500 square feet of CitiTower's approximately 10,000 square feet of retail/dining space, Socol said. JLL Orlando is marketing the commercial side. 

"We've also been negotiating with a major bank that would be new to Orlando for 5,000 to 6,000 square feet, but we've had challenges with the city's signage ordinance," he said.

The bank tenant is seeking a variance to allow letter signage on the buliding's exterior that is slightly larger than the four foot height limit allowed by the city, said Socol, who cited frustration with the city's lack of variance consideration for signage on such a large building.

CitiTower's apartments will feature 16 unique layouts, with 74 studio units, 112 one-bedrooms, 31 two-bedrooms, and 16 three-bedrooms. Rents will start at $2.20 per square foot, and vary based on unit size and placement in the building. 

Amenities in the building will include a rooftop pool and lounge, 24-hour fitness center, custom modern art installments and a large club room, a block south of Lake Eola and the Downtown Publix. 

Baker Barrios is the architect, and Epoch Residential will manage the multifamily portion of the building, which plans to open a pre-leasing office next door at 332 E. Pine St. by April 19. 

Smith Equities Real Estate Investment Advisors (SEREIA) advised Socol on his purchase of the CitiTower site for $5.4 million in December 2014. Socol declined to confirm his group's total investment in the project. 

Company president Robert E. Smith has worked over the past year with city officials to get historic double acorn street lights added along the west side of Lake Avenue, and on Pine Street west of Lake Avenue, which Smith believes could increase the property's WalkScore beyond its current mark of 96. 

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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