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Sovereign-Keewin partners join Falcone Group in plans to redevelop Hungerford site

Conceptual art in Falcone Group's proposal shows examples of other multifamily developments the developer has completed.
Conceptual art in Falcone Group's proposal shows examples of other multifamily developments the developer has completed. (OCPS)

It’s a done deal.

The Falcone Group has officially been selected by Orange County Public Schools to purchase and redevelop a former school site in the Historic Town of Eatonville — and it’s not planning to do it alone.

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After facing stiff competition and some contention with bidders, the Margaritaville developer has decided to partner with Sovereign Land Company and Keewin Real Property Company to redevelop roughly 90 acres on the corner of Kennedy Boulevard and Wymore Road.

The site includes where the former Robert Hungerford Preparatory School once operated.

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Plans call for creating a mixed-use village that will combine “new retail and restaurant concepts” with residential, commercial mixed-use, and public/civic-use space.

Falcone Group's proposal for the mixed-use community features 135,000 square feet of office space, 100,000 square feet of commercial retail space and affordable housing.
Falcone Group's proposal for the mixed-use community features 135,000 square feet of office space, 100,000 square feet of commercial retail space and affordable housing. (OCPS/GrowthSpotter)

The original bid mentions building housing that will be affordable under Orange County’s 10-Year Action plan standards, meaning households earning 80% to 100% of Orange County’s Area Median Income. The proposal also mentions units dedicated for households earning 60% to 80% AMI.

Moreover, the proposal states Falcone Group’s desire to build 135,000 square feet of office space fronting Wymore Road and 100,000 square feet of commercial retail along Kennedy Boulevard. According to the firm’s estimates, the commercial component can bring 500 jobs to the area.

As part of the investment, Falcone Group will be using Opportunity Zone funding to help complete the development.

Opportunity Zones were Introduced as part of the Trump administration’s 2017 tax overhaul and were designed to attract investment in low-income communities by allowing investors to defer or eliminate paying capital gains taxes through funding projects in any of the 8,700 zones created across the country.

Real estate players and advisers in Central Florida open up about navigating the federal program, in which new rules and emerging markets can quickly disrupt the playing field.

“Our firm’s Opportunity Zone strategy maintains a core belief that the local community comes first, and we will strongly adhere to that throughout the lifecycle of this development process,” executive vice president at the Falcone Group, Alfonso Costa Jr., said in a press release.

Last week, the school board unanimously approved, on consent, a $14.6 million purchase and development agreement between OCPS and Falcone and Associates LLC.

The school board had also received proposals from Sovereign Land Co. and Keewin Real Property Co.; DeBartolo Development and Orlando-based real estate investment group Upshot Capital Advisors; and last, a partnership between Winter Park-based commercial developer Chesterfield LLC, Atrium Management Company and Orlando-based PRN Real Estate & Investments.

A Request for Proposals was issued earlier this summer, shortly following several failed attempts to lure in a developer and satisfactory proposals.

Falcone Group’s union with Sovereign Land Co. and Keewin Real Property Co. comes after Kyle Sanders, president of Sovereign Land Co., contested the favorable score given to Falcone Group’s proposal in August.

He previously claimed Falcone Group was given a disproportionality greater ranking for its mixed-use experience, while other scores, like bid price, were much tighter. Sovereign’s proposal scored about 10 points less than Falcone’s in the mixed-use experience category, but only one point less for its monetary offer to purchase the property.

Falcone Group may have not submitted the highest offer to purchase the property, but the evaluation committee favored its mixed-use experience and integration of affordable housing.

“We were the highest bidder at $15.2 million and the way the scoring was done, Falcone would have won even if they would have offered half of the price we offered,” Sanders said in a previous interview. In a message to GrowthSpotter last month Sanders said he withdrew his appeal of the decision.

Falcone Group’s award was approved by the school board in late October. In a statement sent to GrowthSpotter, Costa Jr., said the company decided upon a collaboration with Keewin and Sovereign after being selected.

It was “based on a recognition that their skillsets and local commitment could only further enhance the development’s success,” the statement read. “We have been consistently meeting and having positive conversations with community members regarding the proposed development, and look forward to continuing doing so.”

He adds community listening sessions will begin taking place early next year.

As part of the partnership, Keewin Real Property Co. and Sovereign Land Co. will entitle and develop the southern portion of the site as a single-family residential subdivision, according to the press release. No further details were released.

Allan E. Keen, chairman and owner of Keewin Real Property Co., said they are “pleased to join the Falcone Group.”

“They are first-class folks, and together we should all be able to combine our resources and talents to create a great project for the Historic Town of Eatonville.”

EDITOR’S NOTE: A previous version of the article stated the community will be named Hungerford District at Eatonville. Though that was the name in the proposal package, the developer will be meeting with community members to settle on a new name for the development.

Have a tip about Central Florida development? Contact me at arabines@GrowthSpotter.com or (407) 491-3357, or tweet me at @amanda_rabines. Follow GrowthSpotter on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

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