LIFT Orlando starts commercial land assemblage east of Camping World Stadium

Bob Moser
GrowthSpotter

LIFT Orlando has started building an assemblage of commercial properties in the past week east of Camping World Stadium for future redevelopment. The non-profit organization says plans for the land are undetermined, but multiple sellers were told of a prospective parking garage. 

Initial properties sold lie on the northeast corner of a 13-acre city block bounded by W. Church Street, S. Norton Avenue, W. South Street and S. Rio Grande Avenue. 

Seven property owners make up that block, including the city of Orlando with 7.35 acres across two vacant lots. 

LIFT Orlando spokesman James Woelbern told GrowthSpotter on Thursday no definite plans have been made for future use of the property. 

"It takes time to identify available land and identify (parcels) for potential future projects, these became available and we were able to acquire them," he said. "There is no master plan at the moment." 

But multiple business and property owners on the block told GrowthSpotter that when a LIFT Orlando representative approached them in the past year with a purchase offer, they were told the buyer was planning a parking garage for Phase 1 redevelopment on the site. 

Eilene and Leon Laberge, owners of Bridport Printing Group, sold their 0.258-acre parcel at 1338 W. Church St. on June 30 for $500,000. Owners of the neighboring 0.57-acre parcel at 1342 W. Church sold the same day for $900,000. 

The latter's building was already vacated by a hydraulics company, but the Laberges were given 90 days by the LIFT Orlando affiliate to move their printing business out.

Sunny Beauty Supply Corp. is scheduled to close an $800,000 sale to the LIFT Orlando affiliate on Friday for its former warehouse building at 1328 W. Church St., a 0.34-acre parcel.

The company moved out of that building last year to expand in a larger warehouse it bought a few blocks to the east. Another 0.4-acre parcel directly south, at 216 S. Norton Ave., is also under contract. 

In contrast, two private owners making up most of the western half of the city block aren't inclined to sell. 

NY International Bread Co. owns the land and its bread factory at 1414 W. Church St., is well capitalized and has declined purchase offers in the past year. 

And the Ferguson Plumbing-leased property at 1510 W. Church St., on the block's northwest corner closest to the stadium, is owned by a family that values the multiple revenue streams its site has generated for years via the long-term lease, and extra parking business during stadium events.

"They approached me in January 2016 at first and asked us about selling the property, but I said it's simply not for sale right now," said Zach Schwartz, a local web entrepreneur who manages the property for his grandfather's revocable trust. "If we sold we'd have to reinvest that, and look for additional revenue streams going forward. We have long-standing tenants that would have to be relocated and we have a great business in terms of activity from stadium events." 

City spokeswoman Cassandra Lafser said Thursday no formal offer from LIFT Orlando has been made to purchase the city's 7.35 acres on that block, and no conceptual Master Plan has been provided to city planners for redevelopment there. 

"The city continues to work with residents, LIFT and other potential partners on opportunities to revitalize the areas in and around the Camping World Stadium," she said.

LIFT Orlando was founded in 2012 by local business leaders to revitalize the communities of West Lakes and fight a cycle of poverty there.

The non-profit organization's first major project is well underway, a full redevelopment of the former Washington Shores apartment complex on Orange Center Boulevard, a half mile southwest of Camping World Stadium. 

Vertical construction started there in recent weeks on the $40 million Pendana at West Lakes, a 200-unit multifamily community with a mix of market rate and affordable housing. Construction is on pace for Spring 2018 occupancy. 

LIFT Orlando has already begun preparing redevelopment and investment directly northwest of the budding commercial assemblage on W. Church Street, at Lake Lorna Doone Park. 

A redevelopment Master Plan was introduced last October by the city and non-profit for extensive upgrades to the 12-acre park. Florida Citrus Sports, owner-operator of Camping World Stadium, has pledged $1 million toward the park improvements, but other public and private funding sources are still being identified.

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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