UPDATED: NOVEMBER 14, 2017 9:31 AM — Dan Bellows' Benjamin Partners Ltd. has sold its self storage development pad in the 73-acre Ravaudage property in Winter Park, and signed a new hotel flag for a mixed-use building in the master-planned community.
Site work is underway on a 1.05-acre parcel in Ravaudage at the northwest corner of Lewis Drive and Glendon Park Way, which Bellows has been preparing for a four-story, 103,000-square-foot self storage facility with 10,000 square feet of ground-floor retail.
But Bellows' affiliate will no longer be the owner and developer of that project, after selling the land and plans in mid-October to Atlanta-based developer The Simpson Organization for $3.55 million.
"We were introduced to the site by broker Frost Weaver out of Jacksonville, with whom we've done other business in the self storage arena," president Boyd Simpson told GrowthSpotter on Monday. "Sites which are zoned for self storage, particularly in urban areas, are challenging to find so when we found this one we already knew the Orlando market from past properties, and took a look."
The building will remain the same size as previously designed by C4 Architecture and permitted by the city. Simpson will eliminate the planned 10 apartments on the top floor and their related amenities, which its prospective brand CubeSmart didn't find compatible with self storage, but will maintain the ground-floor retail, which they will manage and lease.
"All the necessary fundamentals on land use were completed before closing. We are engaged in a little redesign and must submit an amendment to the building permit," Simpson said. "Once we've (amended construction plans) we'll take bids from a few general contractors."
Simpson is targeting a First Quarter 2018 groundbreaking for the building, with total project cost estimated at $12.5 million. The developer will begin seeking a lender in the coming months after construction plans and budget are updated.
The Simpson Organization owns and operates commercial real estate assets across the southeastern United States worth approximately $930 million that span office, retail and self storage uses, according to the company.
Its current assets in Florida total roughly $80 million in Jacksonville, Tampa and Vero Beach. This is the company's first property in Greater Orlando "in a few years," Simpson said.
"We're actively pursuing more there. We've been an investor in Central Florida for more than 20 years, owning office and retail assets in Orlando historically," he added. "We're generally looking for value-add properties, but in self storage our focus is solely on new development."
Elsewhere in Ravaudage, Bellows told GrowthSpotter he now has Marriott flag approval to apply Springhill Suites to a 120-room hotel project, planned as part of a six-story mixed-use building set along Lee Road in what is now surface parking for Miller's Ale House.
The building is projected for 313,000 square feet overall, with 14,000 square feet of retail/restaurant across multiple floors, office suites and an open-air terrace on the sixth floor, all wrapping a 430-space parking garage.
Morton's Steakhouse has been engaged about leasing part of the sixth floor, Bellows said.
"We still plan on building that and owning the entire project, hiring an operator for the hotel and will manage the retail and office component," he said. "It's just an interesting time as I get these projects approved, and then people show up and want to buy them."
Bellows has Marriott approval to increase his room count up to 144 for the hotel, he said, which would necessitate an amendment request to the city for previously approved plans, involving only a staff review.
Bainbridge Companies is expected to close next week on its purchase of a 3.7-acre site to build a planned five-story, 278-unit apartment complex, Bellows said. UPDATE: A Bainbridge affiliate paid $6.95 million for the site on Nov. 13, with the deed recorded Nov. 14. The buyer sourced a $37.698 million mortgage from PNC Bank, and filed a notice of commencement for its construction affiliate the same day.
"We're also working with a large, 140,000-square-foot office user now to figure out a site for that product within Ravaudage," Bellows said.
The 247-unit Gem Lake Apartments have been closed recently by Bellows' land owner affiliate, which occupy 14.65 acres on the northern Maitland side of Ravaudage.
That property will be demolished in the near future and the land re-entitled to allow for new, denser mixed-use development, Bellows said.
Bellows began acquiring land in 2002 on the northwest corner of Lee Road and N. Orlando Avenue. Fourteen years later, 73 contiguous acres have been amassed through more than 200 transactions, with entitlements for the mixed-use project collected from three different local governments.