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MMI breaks ground on $8.1M Apopka interchange, apts & retail to follow

MMI breaks ground on $8.1M Apopka interchange, apts & retail to follow
A view of the construction on Thursday on the new Marden Road interchange ramp on the southern side of S.R. 414 in Apopka. (Bob Moser)

MMI Development celebrated the recent groundbreaking on Thursday of a $8.1 million interchange it's building in Apopka at the S.R. 414 intersection with Marden Road, which by mid-2017 will provide a large part of the city new interconnectivity, and open 72 acres of MMI land to new development.

Construction began in October on a future half-diamond interchange at the intersection. MMI will front the cost and risk to build, then be reimbursed by Apopka over 10 years in a few ways, GrowthSpotter first reported in September 2015.

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The new on- and off-ramps on Marden Road will have roundabouts instead of basic stop signs as a traffic calming feature. A future access road is expected to be built on the southern side that leads west to the new $203 million-Florida Hospital Apopka, set to open in 2017 less than a mile from the interchange.

"I really can't believe I'm standing here today, but I'm excited to risk this money," MMI president Michael E. Wright said from the construction site, amidst a gathering of city officials and private collaborators. "We've worked five years with the city on this, and now have funding committed from the public and private sectors."

The privately funded interchange is only the second of its kind to be approved by the Central Florida Expressway Authority (CFX) in its 53 years, with the first being in Lake Nona during that community's early years.

Private equity contributors for the interchange include MMI, Cleveland-based multifamily owner-operator NM Residential and Demetree Global.

NM Residential reached a deal with MMI last year to buy and develop two phases of apartments on the northern side of the interchange. The company bought 30.79 acres for $9.72 million this past January, and began construction in May on the first 272 units.

Its first building of 52 apartments is expected to earn a certificate of occupancy in February 2017, followed by all of the 272 units in April, principal Michael Niederst said Thursday.

Demetree Global holds an equity stake in 72 acres directly east of the apartments site, which MMI successfully entitled in recent months for future commercial.

MMI bought that land in September 2014 for $2 million from Centex Homes, and in August earned FLUM and rezoning approval from the city.

Entitlements will allow for up to 280 units of multifamily uses, and 300,000 square feet of commercial that's expected to become a retail power center fronting S.R. 414. Wright said Thursday he has already drawn interest from an assisted living developer that likes the proximity to Florida Hospital.

"This entire area is a grocery and restaurant desert, but with the existing and new residential here, and the hundreds of jobs coming with Florida Hospital in 2017, there will be significant demand" for new retail development, said Angel de la Portilla, head of Central Florida Strategies, Inc. and MMI's governmental consultant.

A Development Plan for those 72 acres of commercial hasn't been submitted yet to the city. Wright said he and Demetree are recruiting retailers, but those interested need to see the interchange completed first, projected for July 2017.

"This interchange will allow this area to grow and draw the retail tenants we think our project is capable of," said Andrew Hyltin, president of investments for Demetree Global Family Office. "As this construction develops over the next year we'll focus on the commercial, and talk to end users."

Have a tip about Central Florida development? Contact me at bmoser@growthspotter.com, (407) 420-5685 or @bobmoser333. Follow GrowthSpotter on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

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