UPDATED: JUNE 14, 2018 1:51 PM — Two South Florida-based real estate veterans are leading a renewed effort to sell a 77-acre parcel on N. International Drive, aiding a friend who took ownership and has gone to great lengths to clean up the property's title.
Located at 5001 Vanguard St. with prominent I-Drive frontage, the 77.34 acres lie less than a mile south of Orlando International Premium Outlets and directly south of the former Artegon Marketplace mall, which sold this past January to Miami-based investors who are exploring options for mixed-use redevelopment.
The property had been targeted for seizure and liquidation as recently as 2016 by Ecuador's government, following a March 2015 fraud judgment by the United Kingdom's highest court against two brothers of an Ecuadorian banking family, the Ortega Trujillos, GrowthSpotterfirst reported in December 2015.
Since then, property owner I Drive Investors LLC becamefully owned by Errata Florida LLC, an affiliate of Ecuadorian industrialist and real estate investor Ernesto Estrada.
Estrada was the Ortega brothers' main investment partner on the I-Drive property in 2005 when they had their own development plans, before buying out their shares between 2013 and 2014.
Estrada has since paid off all debt owed on the property, achieving a long-elusive clean title. He listed the land for sale in late 2016 with Eduardo Avila, president of Key Realty Advisors in Coconut Grove, at $45 million but gained little traction.
Estrada turned in 2017 to friend Randall Hill, president of Southern Hill Real Estate, for a renewed effort to move the asset. Hill brought on peer-developer Granvil Tracy of American Land Ventures, and after waiting for other projects in the immediate area to mature they went to market this May with a list price of $29.9 million.
"We decided to wait for the Grand National Drive overpass to open up, for the Grand National mixed-use project to get going, and to see what happened with Artegon's sale so we could let this property marinate," Hill told GrowthSpotter. "In hindsight it was the right move. Now we're the last large parcel in the area, and interest is starting to grow."
Planned Development zoning on the site should allow for up to 2,000 residential units, or a mix of housing, commercial and entertainment uses when entitlements are converted through an equivalency matrix.
Within the past year, Hill and American Land Ventures consulted with Orlando-area planners on how the entitlements could be spread across a mix of uses.
One example of that breakdown includes 600 to 800 apartments, 200 for-sale condominium units, 150,000 square feet of retail, two hotel pads with up to 200 keys each, and up to 100,000 square feet of office.
The property is not under contract and the brokerage team has not set a call-for-offers date, Hill said. But he's confident a deal is on the horizon, now that evidence of clean title can be presented.
"It we don't sell this by the end of the year you can bet (American Land Ventures) and I will put together a team to develop it ourselves," he said. "The value and location is clear, but our goal first is to help Mr. Estrada dispose of the asset."
The site came close in 2011 to being developed as Orlando Thrill Park, a roller coaster and amusement park by The Baker Leisure Group. Homeowners in neighboring Tangelo Park fought the proposed park over concerns of noise, traffic and property depreciation. In April 2011, Orlando's Municipal Planning Board denied zoning and land-use approvals needed for the park to be built.