UPDATED: March 23, 2018 3:24 AM — Manhattan-based real estate developer Property Markets Group (PMG) is proposing downtown Orlando's largest mixed-use multifamily project ever on one parcel, with a vacant city block under contract and plans filed for nearly 900 apartments across three towers and 41,000 square feet of retail-commercial.
The full-service development company with offices in Chicago and Miami boasts the track record to pull off such a proposal, having completed 85 residential buildings in New York and more than 150 real estate projects across the country since its launch in 1991.
Under contract is 434 N. Orange Ave., a 3.57-acre tract that features 319 feet of frontage on the avenue. It's surrounded by apartment building Central Station on Orange, the Lynx terminal for SunRail and buses, the 28-story Bank of America Tower and the Orange County Courthouse. It's also less than a half-mile east of the Creative Village campus.
The prospective seller is an affiliate of real estate investment group Midtown Opportunities, backed by Miami developer Alex Vadia, who paid $10 million for the site in late December 2015 and has marketed it for sale since September 2016.
PMG's filing this week of a Framework Master Plan calls for three phased residential towers of 16 to 24 stories with 867 apartments overall, 1,374 structured parking spaces and 41,000 square feet of ground-floor commercial. The developer is requesting an intensity bonus from the city.
This would amend a previously approved Master Plan on the property from 2012, and includes PMG's Final Master Plan for the 16-story Phase 1.
The property boasts rich entitlements if used for Transit-Oriented Development (TOD), allowing up to 1,426 residential units and more than 1.24 million developable FAR (floor area ratio) with density bonuses. The location features a high Walk Score of 88.
"That would fill a huge gap in the downtown market between the North Quarter and Central Business District," said Nick Jones, principal with Resource Development Investment Properties. "Creative Village has a real chance to be a game changer for downtown, and a project like this can help" meet that expected housing need.
Lead executives with PMG did not respond to requests for comment on Thursday.
The project was filed with the city as "Golden Sparrow" but is dubbed "X Orlando" on its conceptual site plan. That may be a placeholder name but is in line with PMG's recent branding in South Florida, where it has the 31-story "X Miami" project and 41-story "X Las Olas" both now under construction.
Phase 1 in Orlando would include 290 residential units, the 41,000 square feet of retail-commercial, and approximately 498 structured parking spaces in between.
The parking garage would occupy much of floors 2-7, but a row of apartments would wrap the exterior of each garage floor. Amenities and two swimming pools would be located on the eighth and ninth floors.
Phase 2 would add another tower of 285 residential units with 504 parking spaces, and Phase 3 a final 292 residential units and 372 parking spaces.
At 867 apartments, the project would be double the size or more of other high-profile downtown multifamily developments, including the nine-story 420 East (299 units), the nine-story Camden North Quarter (333 units), the 25-story CitiTower (233 units), the 33-story 55 West tower (461 units), and the 22-story Modera Central by Mill Creek (350 units) now under construction.
One of the most notable design choices in PMG's breakdown of units for the towers is that 25 percent of the 867 total would be four-bedroom apartments that could cater to families, a rarity in local multifamily development today.
The Phase 1 tower's 290 units are broken down as 203 studio/one-bedrooms, 45 two-bedrooms and 42 four-bedrooms, per the conceptual site plan.
Phase 2 tower's 285 units ramp up that family commitment, with 150 studio/one-beds, 45 two-beds and 90 four-beds. And the third tower's 292 units are divvied up as 160 studio/one-beds, 48 two-beds and 84 four-beds.
"This is a genuine Transit-Oriented Development, and the city should take every dime that comes out of that project and dedicate it to SunRail and the connective tissue that makes SunRail more viable," said Trevor Hall Jr., executive managing director and land specialist for Colliers International Central Florida.
"Demand for high-density development sites locally is stronger than I've ever seen in my 40-plus years in the business. The 41,000 square feet of non-residential will be a challenge though, because on that first floor everything has to do with pedestrian count. The fact you're right at the Lynx terminal, courthouse and near Creative Village makes conditions favorable, but the difficulty factor is still high."
PMG's consultants on the project include Kimley-Horn as civil engineer, Baker Barrios as architect of record, California-based Berkelhamer as design architect, ARCO/Murray as general contractor, and Becky Wilson and Kathryn Smith of Lowndes Drosdick Doster Kantor & Reed, P.A. as legal counsel.
"This is very exciting for downtown Orlando. This group has a strong track record," said Luke Wickham, senior vice president and multifamily specialist for CBRE Orlando. "The Orlando apartment market is on fire and the downtown core is thriving, so a project from a developer like this doesn't surprise me."
Downtown Orlando's newest Class A apartment buildings are averaging monthly rents of more than $1,700, or just over $2 per square foot, Wickham said. He anticipates a project like this must command $2.50 per square foot or more to satisfy investors, depending on if PMG builds to the same quality and finishes as done in its recent South Florida towers.
"All of Orlando's MSA rental market has rents forecasted to rise another 5.5 to 6 percent over the next one and a half years, so there's a lot of demand, and people aren't buying houses as early as before," Wickham continued. "Downtown is a pretty special place. It's anchored by the second and seventh largest hospitals in the country by bed count, and there's more than 10.5 million square feet of office space. So we have a dynamic urban center that is proving extremely popular with young professionals and baby boomers that are downsizing."