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South Florida developers target Millennials with co-living concept in downtown Orlando

Sono Development Group is proposing a 19-story mixed-use tower immediately east of the Dr. Phillips Center. The ground floor would have four retail bays (blue) fronting on South Street.
Sono Development Group is proposing a 19-story mixed-use tower immediately east of the Dr. Phillips Center. The ground floor would have four retail bays (blue) fronting on South Street. (Flux Architects)

One of the nation’s leading co-living residential operators is looking to enter the Orlando market with plans for a 19-story mixed-use tower next to the Dr. Phillips Center for Performing Arts.

Coral Gables-based Sono Development Group and operating partner, Common, are eyeing the nearly 1-acre parcel 401 S. Rosalind Ave. for a residential project they’re calling The Signature that would bring 236 fully furnished apartment homes to the south downtown market.

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SDG CEO Nicolas Plaz told GrowthSpotter the company’s goal is to quickly deliver a rental option downtown that allows for affordability and flexibility. Sodo’s concept would provide mostly three- and four-bedroom co-living units where tenants rent a private bedroom for around $1,000 a month.

The amenities would be located on level six, over the parking garage. The conceptual plan calls for a large social hall, a fitness center and spa, a dog park, a theater and co-working space.
The amenities would be located on level six, over the parking garage. The conceptual plan calls for a large social hall, a fitness center and spa, a dog park, a theater and co-working space. (Flux Architects)

That monthly rent would include utilities, wifi, in-unit laundry and weekly cleaning service of all common areas. Plaz said the residents can schedule cleaning service for their private living space for another $25.

“I believe this is going to be the next big thing in real estate,” Plaz said.

The conceptual plan also sets aside about 30 studio apartments, which would be reserved as affordable housing units. “The studios would have their own kitchenette and bathroom. They would be about 430 square feet,” Plaz said.

The total project would accommodate 561 bedrooms, of which 508 would be co-living units. Common-branded co-living apartments are built with high-quality finishes and outfitted with contemporary furniture from brands like Restoration Hardware and West Elm. The landlord even provides dishware, pots and pans and household essentials, like soap, paper towels and laundry supplies.

“We want to offer our tenants the best finishes possible,” Plaz said. “It’s a way for someone to live in a good unit and not break the bank.”

The floorplate for levels 7-19 shows a variety of apartment floorplans. With the exception of studios and 1-bedroom apartments, most would be co-living units that rent by the bedroom.
The floorplate for levels 7-19 shows a variety of apartment floorplans. With the exception of studios and 1-bedroom apartments, most would be co-living units that rent by the bedroom. (Flux Architects)

The development team has held several pre-application meetings with city planning staff, and Plaz said they’re on track to submit plans in November. That would put them on the Municipal Planning Board agenda in late January, with final approvals some time in February.

Plaz said the developers would close on the property upon receiving permit approvals and hopes to break ground as early as May or June of 2021. RDIP Principal Susan Morris is the broker representing the property owner.

Miami multifamily mogul Jorge Ramos is CEO of real estate and acquisitions for Sodo Development Group. The firm has engaged Flux Architects to design the U-shaped tower. R Square is the structural engineer.

Plaz said said the tower would be no taller than 200 feet because it doesn’t require a height waiver from the Federal Aviation Administration. The lobby would have a small cafe and grab-and-go market. The preliminary plan also calls for four retail bays and and outdoor dining area fronting on South Street.

The 5-level parking garage would accommodate 370 vehicles, and the plan also would have a designated area for ride sharing services. Most of the resident amenities would be located on the 6th floor, over the parking garage. Those include a pool, a dog park and a wellness terrace for yoga and meditation. The indoor amenities include 1,710 square feet designated for co-working offices, a large social hall, theater and clubhouse and a fitness center with sauna and spa.

Co-living has been a successful revenue generator in other urban markets while also meeting the market demand for affordable living. Common operates dozens of co-living communities in places like New York, San Francisco, Washington D.C. and Chicago.

Property Markets Group, which is currently building Orlando’s largest multifamily community, Society Orlando, at 434 N. Orange Avenue, plans to offer a variety of living options with a mix of traditional floorplans and co-living units.

Plaz said PMG’s recently completed X Miami project, which utilizes the same business model, led him to believe it could be successful in other markets. They want to start in Orlando and replicate the model in other markets.

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“X Miami is a very successful project – they’re at 90% capacity,” Plaz said. “We want to change the way that real estate is looked at. People will get to say I can live in really nice building with housekeeping, and don’t have to be rich.”

Toronto-based Jaymor Group received master plan approval last week from the city’s MPB for its proposed 30-story Monarch tower, right across the street at South Street and Lake Avenue. That project calls for 380 luxury apartments and full-service lifestyle hotel with shared amenities and services.

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 FacebookTwitter and LinkedIn.

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