A new cigar lounge, with a possible hospitality component, is being proposed to replace the old Select Cars dealership between the Mills 50 District and Ivanhoe Village.
Longwood-based Dapperdoff LLC, managed by Joseph Norwood, is proposing to build a 10,000-square-foot commercial building, made out of shipping containers, that’s inspired by cigar culture.
The concept, called JNICOT, is named after the French diplomat Jean Nicot, who was known for being the first to introduce tobacco to France.
Norwood tapped Greg Hudak of Orlando-based Hudak Engineering as a representative and civil engineer in applications submitted to the City of Orlando seeking for a Growth Management Plan amendment and rezoning of the property for the project.
The partners are also seeking Conditional Use Approval to allow for on-site consumption of alcohol within 1,000 square feet of a school and a maximum building height of 50 feet, records show.
Norwood told GrowthSpotter he’s still ironing out the details, but he and a team of unnamed private investors with experience in the tobacco industry and hospitality sector are working together to create a sustainable hospitality brand that fuses with cigar culture and its history.
“Cigars will be the centerpiece, but hospitality will be part of it,” he said. Norwood declined to elaborate, citing nondisclosure agreements.
The development group intends to use eco-friendly materials and a “biophilic design,” which is a term coined in the development community, used for building standards that must incorporate natural lighting, ventilation and landscape to bring occupants closer to nature.
Norwood called it a new standard of building. “This is a fresh new approach to the industry,” he said.
The four-parcel portfolio of properties at and around 708 Virginia Dr. has long been the site of the auto dealership, owned by Brookhaven Investments LLC. The company is led by a group of investors including Rex Godber, Raymond Kilmer, Jennifer Godber and Joan Kilmer.
A shirt print shop, roofing business and small commercial office building, built in 1945, are also part of the property. Records show the company paid $184,400 for the site on the southeast corner of Ferris Avenue and Virginia Drive in 2003.
Raymond Kilmer confirmed there is an interested party looking into the property, but no deals or contracts have been signed yet.
The site had been looked at before by Chris Hughes from Wekiva Capital Partners, who proposed a mixed-use development with co-living, but plans fell through.
Brian Carolan with Crossman & Company is the broker.
The latest submitted plans for the 0.93-acre property show Dapperdoff LLC, wants to feature modern, nature-inspired designs to create an “escapist atmosphere.” The project description also points to a program for members that will give them access to discounts and exclusive hours for workspace environments.
Building with shipping containers is growing in popularity as an alternative to traditional construction materials. Not only are they eco-friendly, but they’re also trendy, developer Micah Bass told GrowthSpotter.
“Shipping containers are what we’ve grown to like,” he said. “Rather than that large, lost in the mall feeling, someone can grab a cigar in a cool place and walk around Lake Ivanhoe.
Bass, who is not involved in JNICOT, is in the midst of planning a new three-story marketplace made out of 26 shipping containers, as part of an expansion of his Heart of I-Drive boutique hotel on 7200 International Drive.
Boxi Park in Lake Nona is another example, where two levels of shipping containers host an array of food trucks, restaurants, live entertainment and bars. The Yard at Ivanhoe also utilized containers for some of its retail space.
The City of Orlando is also planning a container park concept from Ascend Studios that creates a gathering space at the corner of North Orange Avenue and West Robinson Street.