Colony Capital's 474 acres on Universal to be marketed worldwide Friday

California-based real estate investment firm Colony Capital kicks off a global marketing campaign Friday with CBRE for 19 parcels totaling 474 acres that lie southeast of Universal Studios and near the Orange County Convention Center, with aim to sell the entire property at one time and draw offers of $150 million to $200 million, a land services broker representing the property confirmed for GrowthSpotter.

With Colony expecting to take control of the land following a public foreclosure auction on Nov. 18, the firm formally signed CBRE's Land Services team in Orlando in mid-October. Colony holds first position in the upcoming auction because it owns $285 million in debt on the property.


Colony has been working toward this point for a few years while its foreclosure case dragged through Orange County Circuit Court against affiliate LLCs of the property's former owner, Atlanta-based developer Stan Thomas.

Up until recently, Colony seemed set on original plans to conduct initial horizontal development on the bulk of the property itself, and see through an extension of Kirkman Road through the property. That process could have taken a year or more, and would have culminated in selling parcels individually, said Robert H. McEwan, first vice president of Land Services at CBRE in Orlando.


"Colony now wants to sell the whole property at once," McEwan said. "We expect offers of $150 million to $200 million, and that will demand a major player in the investment or development world who will have the money available to acquire the land, and develop the horizontal infrastructure for their own project, or later sale of parcels."

The 474 acres are spread across 19 non-contiguous parcels (17 of which are developable), which range in size from 2.9 acres to 85 acres, with a 340.6-acre cluster involving nine parcels. The land lies mostly east of Universal Boulevard, and along the current and future path of Destination Parkway.

McEwan said a handful of international property investment groups from China, Turkey, Brazil and the Middle East have begun inquiring about the property package following news of the Nov. 18 foreclosure auction.

Traditionally, marketing such a large portfolio of properties would last two months, with three to four months total to close a deal of this size, McEwan said. Colony could opt to move quickly for a close before Dec. 31.

"This is set up to potentially close quickly, because on foreclosed property everything is clear on the property history. There's no liens, all the title work is ready. So due diligence can be done in 30 days or less," he said.

Orlando-based Unicorp National Developments' CEO Chuck Whittall told GrowthSpotter in May he was pursuing 20 acres or more from Colony Capital along Universal Boulevard for a "dense urban development."

Whittall said Thursday he is still interested in much of the Colony property, especially a 17-acre parcel directly across Universal Boulevard from I-Drive 360. But the potential price of $150 million to $200 million for all 474 acres may be out of reach, he conceded.

CBRE's Orlando land services brokers on the campaign include McEwan, Jacob M. Schrimsher and Preston Hage. CBRE will market the Colony property package to as many as 20,000 land investment clients through its CBRE offices worldwide, and will translate the marketing materials into multiple languages.


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