A company tied to the New York-based private equity firm Blackstone Group just paid $77.7 million for a multifamily community within the International Drive/Convention Center district of Orlando.
The 355-unit apartment community at 9703 Avellino Ave. was developed and sold by ContraVest, a luxury multi-family developer, builder and manager based in Altamonte Springs.
The deal for the Courtney and Universal Boulevard apartments breaks down to about $219,000 per unit. John Schaffer, president of ContraVest Management, said the complex was 93 percent occupied at the time of the sale.
ContraVest bought the 13-acre property in 2013 for about $6.57 million, and began construction just a month later with the help of a $32.5 million construction loan from PNC Bank.
At the time, most of the surrounding land was undeveloped. Today, thanks to the 2015 installation of Orange County's Convention Plaza District and its I-Drive District Overlay - adopted in February of 2017 - standards for development are set to a higher threshhold that calls for more walkable and heavily urbanized mixed-use projects.
Just next door, ContraVest is building a 344-unit apartment complex called: The Addison at Universal Boulevard. Schaffer said he counts on completing the project early next year.
ContraVest bought the neighboring parcel in 2017 for a little more than $7 million from Orlando Equity Partners.
The property lies on the northeast corner of Universal Boulevard and Destination Parkway.
ComTerra is partnering with Craft Development Corp. of Toronto on the project. The partners are planning a phased development that will feature about 150,000 square feet of retail, dining and entertainment space, with mid- and long-term plans to eventually build vertically over the coming decades, in step with the I-Drive District Code.
The area has seen a number of attractions recently opened, including Topgolf and Andretti Karting — and more are projected to come.
Last year in January, Orlando-based Ripley Entertainment Inc. paid $7.6 million for more than 17 acres off of Universal Boulevard, along with rights for retail development that would allow for a large museum.
North of the property, Universal Orlando is redeveloping the former Wet n' Wild water park on I-Drive into a highly amenitized resort community with up to 4,000 guestrooms. The hotels would be branded/themed to complement existing on-site Universal hotels.
Continued job growth in the tourism corridor, road expansions plans and an uptick in development activity within the area is what prompted ContraVest to invest more than five years ago, Schaffer said.
In the next five years, he adds, he expects the area to be unrecognizable with new development. "This is ground zero," Schaffer said.
Blackstone is taking notice. This recent investment follows the private equity firm's $70.5 million acquisition of the 338-unit Integra Cove apartment complex close by at 6801 Westwood Blvd., just last month.