Charter school financier buys Orlando office bldg for local STEM school's expansion

Charter school financier buys Orlando office bldg for local STEM school's expansion
Highlighted in blue is land already owned by affiliates of Orlando Science School on Technology Drive, and outlined in red is a third office building the school now has an option contract to buy in the future. (Orange County Property Appraiser / staff edit)

A Washington, D.C.-based charter school financier paid $5.6 million last week for an office building in west Orlando, which it will hold for a neighboring charter school to buy in the coming years for its expansion.

The buyer was an affiliate of Building Hope Foundation, a non-profit that develops and offers back-office management for public charter schools. It was the developer last year for the new Innovation Montessori school built in Ocoee.


Located at 2600 Technology Dr., the 4.28-acre parcel includes a three-story office building with 62,474 square feet of conditioned area. It's one of four office buildings developed along this dead-end drive in the late 1980s.

Two of those office buildings are already owned by affiliates of Orlando Science Schools, a local STEM-focused charter with three campuses. It began renovating its second building there in 2017 to convert for the school's grades K-7 use. Orlando Science also owns an adjacent 11.4 acres of undeveloped land east of the school for future expansion.

"We've bought the (third) building for Orlando Science Schools and are working for them as a path to ownership," Building Hope's vice president Richard Moreno told GrowthSpotter. "There are two other tenants in the building now and over time they will vacate. Our objective for now is to keep the building in good shape."

The sale closed on Jan. 10 and was recorded Jan. 12 in Orange County.

Orlando Science Schools is now leasing about 24,000 square feet on the newly acquired building's third floor, while the other two floors are leased to Orlando Health and Columbia College. Those tenants have leases through 2019 and 2021, with five-year renewal options.

Orlando Science has an option to buy the building from Building Hope after three years with the existing tenants, or wait until they vacate.

The school may favor waiting as long as necessary for the two tenants to vacate, because it cannot acquire non-taxable bond financing for its purchase of the building if other commercial tenants are in it, Moreno said.

Officials with Orlando Science Schools did not respond to calls for comment on Tuesday. No applications to change the permitted use of the building have been filed with the city of Orlando.

Building Hope sourced a $6.5 million loan from PNC Bank to help finance the acquisition.

The seller was Aetna Life Insurance Company, which took control of the property in January 1999 through a court-ordered sale, for a value that wasn't recorded at the time beyond $100.

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