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GSSA files new renovation plan for long-vacant office building

The owner of this long-vacant office building at 500 N. Orange Ave. has submitted a renovation concept that would enlarge the windows, add retail and dining uses on the ground floor and a new parking deck to the west.
The owner of this long-vacant office building at 500 N. Orange Ave. has submitted a renovation concept that would enlarge the windows, add retail and dining uses on the ground floor and a new parking deck to the west. (Baker Barrios)

Michigan-based developer West Second Street Associates is seeking approval for a total renovation of the former AT&T office building in downtown Orlando, which has been vacant for over five years.

The filing comes on the heels of WSSA signing the largest office lease in the Orlando market during the third quarter 2020, according to JLL’s latest market report. An unnamed agency of the federal government will lease the entire 5-story building at 500 N. Orange Ave., with the exception of ground-level retail uses that will be added along Orange Avenue and Amelia Street.

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Baker Barrios led the design, which calls for reskinning the building with new stucco and expanding all of the windows to increase the transparency. The new retail uses would activate the street level, and a prominent canopy and signage would highlight the southeast corner of the building.

Your update on the latest benchmark for this Central Business District project, and the new timeline for general contractor selection and groundbreaking.

A new parking garage will be constructed on the building’s rear (west side) to accommodate 436 vehicles.

A WSSA representative declined to comment on the project. WSSA acquired the property and building for $7 million in March 2015 from Southern Bell Telephone and Telegraph. This is the second time WSSA and Baker Barrios are seeking approval from the city’s Appearance Review Board for a total overhaul of the property.

The firm previously filed a renovation plan in 2017 that would have involved cutting and stripping the building down to its skeleton, completely re-skinning it with nearly all glass, and installing new HVAC, mechanical infrastructure and elevators.

The company initially considered in 2015 to convert the building into a 354-unit multifamily complex, but the demand for downtown apartments and price per square foot didn’t support their cost of conversion, a WSSA executive previously told GrowthSpotter. Similar study of demolition and new construction for multifamily also didn’t meet their investment goals for the property.

The building is just steps from the Lynx/SunRail station and lies directly across Orange Avenue from the former Orlando Sentinel property, which was bought four years ago by Miami’s Midtown Opportunities for $35 million. The developer recently applied for demolition permits for the block bounded by Amelia and Concord streets, indicating there may be plans to sell or develop it.

Have a tip about Central Florida development? Contact me at lkinsler@GrowthSpotter.com or (407) 420-6261, or tweet me at @byLauraKinsler. Follow GrowthSpotter on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

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