Orange County Public Schools has purchased 161 acres near the Kelly Park Road -Wekiva Parkway interchange for a new high school.
Orange County Public Schools has purchased 161 acres near the Kelly Park Road -Wekiva Parkway interchange for a new high school. (Orange County Property Appraiser/staff edit)

Orange County Public Schools has paid $11.4 million for two new school sites in Apopka and Southeast Orlando.

The school district closed on 161 acres near the Kelly Park Road - Wekiva Parkway interchange. About half the property will be land-banked for a future high school. The district hasn’t determined the use of the other half of the site, according to spokeswoman Lauren Roth.

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The 16-acre elementary site within the Orlando Office Center at 6249 S. Goldenrod Rd. was the more expensive acquisition. The district paid $7.86 million for the parcel because it was already entitled for a future multifamily development, according to Trevor Hall, director of land services for Collier’s International Central Florida. Hall brokered the deal, along with associate Emily Franklin-Peiper.

The seller originally purchased the land in 2007 for a flex warehouse development. After the recession hit, Hall worked with the seller to amend the approved uses of the land through the City of Orlando. The land use was changed to a multifamily and school option after the owner and the Colliers team started seeing significant demand for those types of uses in Southeast Orlando.

Orange County Public Schools paid a premium for this 16-acre site in Southeast Orlando because the property had zoning and entitlements for an apartment complex.
Orange County Public Schools paid a premium for this 16-acre site in Southeast Orlando because the property had zoning and entitlements for an apartment complex. (Orange County Public Schools)

Although the property was originally marketed as a multifamily development, when Colliers’ professionals analyzed the area, they found there was not enough demand to justify a large new multifamily development. The brokers then reached out to the school district to discuss the possibility of building a school on the site instead of a multifamily development.

The new elementary school, still in the planning and design phase, is set to open for the 2020-21 school year and will take students from nearby overcrowded elementary schools.

Also, when the school opens, an essential connection of Marketplace Drive to Narcoossee Road and a new traffic signal will be in place, easing accessibility challenges.

“Adapting the land to fit the needs of Orange County Public Schools was a challenging but rewarding process,” said Colliers’ Hall. “We worked with the city to change the land use, gathered funding to establish a road to access the future school and addressed storm water issues in order to make this happen.”

The $24 million elementary school, designed to accommodate 837 students, will open in time for the 2020 school year. The architect is Rhodes+Brito, and the general contractor is CPPI.

The school district was eyeing several sites in Northwest Orange County, including the Sadler Road property, for a future elementary school. So far neither school is included in the district’s 10-year capital program. The seller affiliate was represented by Chuck Mitchell, Jr., CEO of First Capital Property Group. The transaction closed in May at $3,542,000 or $22,000 per acre.

Mitchell told GrowthSpotter the seller entity had owned the property for 30 years, and he pursued a deal with the OCPS for the last three years.

“I knew OCPS needed a high school in the Apopka area, and they had a site they weren’t happy with because of access and environmental issues,” Mitchell said. “They told us this was an opportunity for them to get out ahead of the market and get some land that won’t be affected during this development cycle."

The Wekiva Parkway extension has spurred new residential development, especially along the Kelly Park Road interchange. Just east of the school site Hanover Capital Partners is developing the 39.6-acre subdivision. Vice President Steve Orosz said last year the company was excited to enter the Apopka market after a long hiatus. “The Wekiva Parkway extension has added connectivity between the western and northern parts of town,” he said.

Have a tip about Central Florida development? Contact me at lkinsler@GrowthSpotter.com or (407)420-6261, or tweet me at @LKinslerOGrowth. Follow GrowthSpotter on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

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