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Developer plans to demo Universal Boulevard shopping center for apartments

Developer plans to demo Universal Boulevard shopping center for apartments
Legacy Partners Residential has applied for a rezoning of the Republic Square shopping center on Universal Boulevard at Carrier Drive to build a 399-unit apartment complex (1). The site is just south of Westgate Palace Resort (2) and east of Pirates Dinner Adventure (11). (Dwell Design Studio/Legacy Partners Residential)

A California-based multifamily housing developer has filed plans to convert a largely dormant shopping plaza in southwest Orlando into the 399-unit Republic Square Apartments.

Legacy Partners Residential has applied with the city’s planning division to construct five buildings of four stories each at the southwest corner of Universal Boulevard and Carrier Drive.

"We love the proximity to Universal Studios and their proposed future parks, and the proximity to the Lockheed Martin campus," said Jon Wood, senior managing director for Legacy. "We like being in the heart of the tourism corridor and the center of job generation."

The complex would include a fitness center, internet café, sports lounge, pet spa and a resort-style saltwater pool area with cabanas, an outdoor living room and summer kitchen with barbecue grills.

The developer wants to build 4-story, frame construction apartment buildings with elevators and interior corridors.
The developer wants to build 4-story, frame construction apartment buildings with elevators and interior corridors. (Dwell Design Studio/Legacy Partners Residential)

Legacy, which opened its Southeast regional office in Maitland, is seeking planned development zoning on what is currently zoned as a metropolitan activity center in order to amend some setback requirements. In the application, Wood said the setback relief would allow the developer to protect two lines of mature trees along Carrier Drive and Universal Boulevard.

“Preserving and incorporating these existing trees into the new landscape and hardscape design of the proposed development enhances the quality of the pedestrian and streetscape surrounding the site,” the application states.

Meanwhile, rather than replacing an existing stormwater detention pond on the site along Carrier Drive with an underground system, the developer is seeking to treat the pond, improve its shoreline and landscape the area to create an outdoor amenity area including an off-leash dog park.

The overall average apartment unit size will be 895 square feet. The application calls for 18 efficiency apartments, 38 studios, 172 one-bedroom units, 139 two-bedroom units, and 32 three-bedroom units.

There will be 621 surface parking spaces.

Prior to joining Legacy, Wood was the Southeast Managing Director of Development for Hines and the East Coast Division Partner for The Morgan Group. He has also held multifamily development positions at Archstone in Washington, D.C. and Trammel Crow Residential in Florida.

He will spearhead Legacy's entry into the Southeast, with "two or three more projects" under consideration in the Orlando area along with sites in South Florida and Atlanta.

The Republic Square retail parcel is 11.4 acres just blocks from the International Drive tourism corridor. It has been home to a handful of dining and retail tenants and a nightclub over the years.

Wood described the existing retail center as "past its useful life at this point."  It will be razed. Legacy sought the parcel because "the multifamily sector is so strong right now, and retail is not, particularly in a location like this," he said.

The architect for the Republic Square Apartments is Dwell Design Studio of Atlanta. Mellich-Blenden of Maitland is the civil engineer, Dansk Consulting of Orlando is the structural engineer, and MiGre Engineers of Longwood is handling mechanical, electrical and plumbing.

Legacy’s application will get an initial review at a Feb. 19 meeting of the Orlando Municipal Planning Board. Wood said Legacy expects to break ground in 10 months.

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