A conglomerate of home-building and development firms appears to be the front-runner to buy and build out the remaining land from the McCoy Naval Annex in Orlando.
Vying for the 126-acre property are The Allen Morris Company and Beazer Homes, which submitted a joint preliminary proposal that would establish the Southport Landings neighborhood, just west of Orlando International Airport. If selected by the city, they would form a joint venture business entity to bring the community to fruition.
“We believe that our vision of a walkable neighborhood town center helps to fulfill the intent of the Southport Vision Plan that the city created roughly two decades ago, and we look forward to entering into these discussions,” Dennis Suarez, director of development for Allen Morris, said via email.
D.R. Horton, the largest homebuilding company in the United States, was the only other firm that submitted a proposal for the Southport property. However, city of Orlando spokeswoman Karyn Barber said Horton later withdrew its offer.
Representatives from David Weekley Homes, Keller Williams, SSCC Group Inc., and several Orlando-based groups attended an optional pre-proposal meeting with the city earlier this year. However, none submitted proposals.
The Southport property is split into two parcels, a north parcel that’s about 96 acres and a south parcel that’s around 30 acres. They’ve been vacant since the Navy pulled out of the city in the 1990s. Other pieces of the old base have already been redeveloped, including 200 acres of former military housing that were converted to duplexes in what’s now Villages of Southport and 1,100 acres that became Baldwin Park.
Laurie Botts, real estate division manager for the city, previously told GrowthSpotter the city was looking for a master developer to transform the empty land. She said she envisioned a mixed-use community of entry-level homes, apartments, townhomes and retail options, that would possibly include housing for seniors, military veterans and tenants with disabilities. The city also emphasized the need to include housing accessible to residents who make between $35,040 and$58,400.
The development proposal from Allen Morris and Beazer Homes revolves around a neighborhood town center of four mixed-use buildings with 16,000 square feet of retail and office space on the ground floor and apartments above. It would border the existing Southport Community Park, a 52-acre public park.
There would be about 600 apartments total, with a mix of one-, two- and three-bedroom units. The town center, which would be built, owned and operated by Allen Morris, would be three stories in order to blend in with the surrounding community.
Some apartments would be set aside for affordable workforce housing. In the proposal, Allen Morris states it would work with the city to possibly reserve a portion of affordable units for public sector employees, including city workers and employees of the school district and airport.
Surrounding the town center, Beazer Homes would construct 180 townhomes and 167 single-family houses. On the southern parcel, it would build another 82 houses. Between the two parcels will be a solar farm owned by the city.
The Allen Morris/Beazer Homes group said it would transform East Landstreet Road into the main thoroughfare and create on-street parking. It would also utilize energy-efficient features in the homes and businesses.
Guidelines from the city call for an “urban, mixed-use, pedestrian and transit-accommodating" community, given its proximity to possible future SunRail and the Virgin Trains Brightline stops. The developer will be responsible for about $14 million in total road improvements, the inclusion of bike and walking trails, and construction of a stormwater management system and sanitary sewer.
Allen Morris and Beazer Homes will share the cost of needed infrastructure.
Barber said the proposal did not include an offer price, and the city has not specified an asking price.
Allen Morris, which is based in Coral Gables and one of the largest diversified real estate firms in the southeast, has developed other projects in the Orlando area, including Maitland City Centre, a $73 million project with 220 market-rate apartments, 24 “live/work units" and 35,000 square feet of ground-floor retail. They are also a co-developer of The Julian, a $109 million skyscraper in downtown Orlando’s Creative Village slated to open next summer.
Beazer Homes out of Atlanta is one of the largest home builders in the country. They developed Gatherings of Lake Nona, a 55-plus condo community; Summerlake Townhomes, a neighborhood of 178 townhomes in Horizon West; and Belle Vie, a 38-acre gated community in Storey Park.
Trent Scott, president of First Capital Property Group, which is brokering the deal, said it would likely be another three months before a developer is chosen. Botts said the city hopes to see at least half of the property built out within the next five years.