Allen Morris was serving as a panelist Thursday during NAIOP Central Florida’s multifamily market update when he casually mentioned that he and Ustler have $250 million of new construction in the pipeline for the mixed-use district in downtown Orlando. The buildings, all designed by Baker Barrios, will rise on lots that are east of the Luminary Green Park and south of the Modera Apartments now in construction by Mill Creek Residential.
“This is the biggest project in Creative Village so far, and one of the biggest in the history of downtown Orlando,” Craig Ustler said.
The partners expect to announce tenants, project names and construction schedules this fall as they submit initial plans to the City of Orlando. “It is likely that the Parcel X office and Parcel Y apartments will go first at generally the same time, and the Parcel X-1 hotel will come a little later,” Ustler said.
One of the biggest surprises was Building X, a 12-story office tower that would add 185,000 square feet of new Class A office space to the district, along with 5,000 square feet of ground-floor retail. Morris said the decision by Electronic Arts to build a new headquarters in Creative Village gave the district legitimacy as an office location at a time when nearly every office project in the Central Business District stalled.
“We’ve got commitments for about 50% of the office space already,” Morris said. “We can’t tell you who it is yet. We may be at 70, 80 or even 100% pre-leased by the time we put a shovel in the ground, based on the way things are going.”
The $97 million project is being designed for a post-COVID-19 environment, with touchless access controls, enhanced HVAC filtration, LEED certification and WELL Building design elements. The partners are working with JLL for the initial pre-leasing.
The plans also show a new 10-story hotel planned on Parcel X, overlooking the Luminary Park. The development plan calls for 180 keys with 5,000 square feet of meeting space. The partners are targeting a Marriott flag that would the brand’s first location in Orlando. The estimated budget is $42 million.
Ustler and Morris, who developed The Julian Apartments in Creative Village, are also planning a new 26-story luxury residential tower on Parcel X-1. The initial specs call for 324 residential units, totaling 259,000 square feet, plus 4,000 square feet of ground-floor retail.
Morris said The Julian is about 70% leased, and they expect to see that building stabilized as UCF and Valencia resume classes at the downtown campus.
The $97 million tower would have unobstructed views across I-4 of downtown Orlando’s Central Business District. The project will have a full suite of amenities, including an elevated pool over the parking garage on level 8. Residents also would have direct access to the rest of Creative Village through Bob Carr Plaza and a breezeway that runs between the hotel and office buildings.
“Our intention is to create a mixed-use lifestyle experience for serious office business use, as well as a great hotel, as well as a great luxury apartment experience with ground-floor retail, restaurants — in addition to what is already there — surrounded by parks on both sides,” Morris said. “It will give a whole more vibrancy to Creative Village.”
The next phase of Creative Village also includes an affordable housing component and more student housing. Ustler Development has executed a contract with Atlantic Housing and BACDC for 190 units of mixed-income housing similar to Amelia Court. Ustler said he is partnering again with DEVEN Group for the second phase of student housing, which will be built north of the existing tennis courts, but they don’t have a timetable yet.
“We are going to wait and make sure that we restabilize UnionWest — which looks like we have done,” he said. “We’re in the mid-to-high 80 percentile, and we to get into the 90s by the time school starts in about a month. But we would be prudent to make sure that we restabilized that asset before we turn to the next one.”