Cincinnati-based North American Properties has a contract to buy 16.5 acres on the northern end of International Drive, directly south of Orlando International Premium Outlets, where it envisions a mix of retail, apartments and two hotel towers for land soon to be activated by a new I-4 interchange, a partner with the company told GrowthSpotter.
Located at 5504 W. Oak Ridge Road, the four contiguous parcels have been owned for a decade by principals of Winter Park-based multi-family developer Douglas Partners, for which they paid $7.3 million in November 2006.
Set near a literal dead-end today, the land lies in the path of the I-4 Ultimate project's new flyover bridge that will link neighboring Grand National Drive across the interstate to Caravan Court, a block from one of the main entrances of Universal Orlando. The flyover is expected to open in Summer 2017.
"When the FDOT is spending $2 billion on I-4 Ultimate and only building one interchange at (Grand National Drive), those interchanges change the market. They're connecting 22 million visitors a year for Universal to the 12 million visitors at that (Premium Outlets) with a five-minute drive, instead of a 20-plus minute connection down at Kirkman and I-Drive," said Shawn R. McIntyre, partner with North American Properties.
"We have it under contract, could close this June, and have considerable interest from third-party users. I can't emphasize enough how this interchange is the difference for why this land has value now."
A pre-application meeting was held last week with City of Orlando planning staff, attended by Doug Hoeksema (Douglas Partners), architects Tim Baker and Wayne Dunkelberger (Baker Barrios), broker Preston Hage (CBRE), Joe Harris (Harris Civil Engineers) and Wayne Rich (Broad & Cassel), according to city records.
A rough sketch of the potential development by Baker Barrios was provided. That tentative plan proposes subdividing the four parcels into five blocks, with 47,000 square feet of retail across five outparcels, two hotels totaling 400 keys, a four-story apartment complex with 200 units, and 1,798 parking spaces between five parking decks or garages.
Since that meeting, plans for the site have intensified, McIntyre said. The two hotels will likely be full-service at 10 stories or more with up to 250 keys each (500 total), and the Class A multi-family development could top 250 units.
Parking structures with up to four stories each will be necessary to meet demand not just from the hotels and apartments, but primarily the five retail outparcels. McIntyre believes those could attract national restaurants chains that will build large prototype units of 8,000-10,000 square feet.
North American Properties could submit a DP application to the city in April to get on the June Municipal Planning Board agenda. The company will acquire the land with its own capital, McIntyre said.
By June, he hopes to have commitments from two to three users, and will spend the second half of 2016 completing construction phase drawings, acquiring permits for infrastructure and solidifying land lease agreements. Construction on the site's infrastructure should start in January 2017.
The project could approach $200 million in total value once built out, McIntyre said. He declined to confirm the contracted purchase price for the land.
As GrowthSpotter reported in mid-July, the Douglas Partners' property has an approved master plan that includes 1,750 multi-family units, an 800-room hotel and 100,000 square feet of ground-level retail, and had been market-listed by CBRE at $20 million.
That master plan was ultra-dense, McIntyre said, with timeshare buildings of 20-plus stories projected. Today's market can't support that much development, but North American's plan will still bring a new level of density to North I-Drive.
The I-4 interchange under construction west of the Douglas Partners property will provide direct access to 167,000 cars per day, CBRE estimates.
Directly across the street, Simon Property Group has been surveying and studying its 77 acres at Premium Outlets to potentially build a parking garage and expand its retail footprint, GrowthSpotter reported in early January.
Fun Spot America said in January it may expand its park onto an additional 9.8 acres along Grand National Drive, and other adjacent parcels could be pursued for the theme park.
North American Properties has been an active developer of Publix-anchored shopping plazas in Florida, and is the developer behind Seminole Towne Center in Sanford and Sodo in Downtown Orlando.