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Unicorp closes $49M deal for O-Town West land and preps for construction

Unicorp closes $49M deal for O-Town West land and preps for construction
Unicorp National Development is in discussions with a Fortune 500 company to move its headquarters to The Boardwalk at O-Town West. The tenant would lease 250,000 square feet of office space. (Unicorp National Developments)

Two titans of Orlando real estate closed the most expensive land sale of the year on Thursday as $49 million changed hands for the 76 acres in Orlando’s tourism corridor that will be the home of O-Town West.

Seller Daryl Carter told GrowthSpotter it was the final piece of a nearly 200-acre assemblage he began putting together in 2005, and it brings the total sell out price of the acreage to $131 million. Carter is president of Maury L. Carter & Associates.

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“It’s been a vision I’ve had for 10 years,” Carter said. “It’s been a lot of work. A lot of blood, sweat and tears. The property is now going to be in the hands of a world-class developer. I’m a very good land guy, but I’m not a world-class developer. Chuck Whittall is."

Whittall’s Unicorp National Developments has approved plans for a massive mixed-use development that combines over a 1,500 residential units with retail, dining and office space divided among four sub-districts: Village at O-Town West, The Crossings at O-Town West, the Town Center at O-Town West and the Boardwalk at O-Town West.

The Village at O-Town West will have 80,000 square feet of commercial space and nearly 850 apartments on site.
The Village at O-Town West will have 80,000 square feet of commercial space and nearly 850 apartments on site. (Unicorp National Developments)

Whittall said Unicorp will break ground in 2020 on the residential and retail components of the project. Those include a mix of mid-rise garden-style apartments, lofts, a single-family urban neighborhood and townhomes.

“The apartments and all the retail will be in Phase 1 and then the boardwalk is Phase 2, which includes the water feature,” Whittall said. “We’re building everything in January, we’ll start everything except for the boardwalk. At the boardwalk, we’re negotiating with an office tenant for 250,000 square feet. And so if we get that deal secured, then we’ll start the boardwalk.”

Whittall said Unicorp would move its offices to the boardwalk, but the timing on the project is largely contingent on the lease-up of the balance of the office space.

“It’s a corporate headquarters. And then we’re going put our corporate headquarters there. We’re going to build a hotel there, as well. We’re going to do a Zen Hotel, our own brand - like Zen apartments. That’s the boardwalk, so that’ll really be kind of like Phase 2.”

The O-Town West mixed-use development is composed of four districts and spread over 76 acres. The $49 million sale price is the highest paid for land in Central Florida this year.
The O-Town West mixed-use development is composed of four districts and spread over 76 acres. The $49 million sale price is the highest paid for land in Central Florida this year. (Unicorp National Developments)

Thursday’s transaction surpasses the largest land sale to date – the $40 million Edgewater sale to BTI Partners – which closed one day earlier.

This was the first of four successive closings, totaling $100 million, scheduled for Unicorp over a two-month period, culminating with the purchase of Orlando Fashion Square for $23 million. Whittall said the company helped finance the O-Town deal with proceeds from the sale of its Drake Midtown Apartments at Griffin Farms Town Center in Lake Mary. That property closed on Wednesday for $67.75 million to a real estate fund operated by Deutsch Bank. The other land buys include Celebration Pointe at Disney’s World Drive interchange and a retail parcel in Horizon West.

“We’ll probably build the Disney project, the Horizon West project and O-Town during the year of 2020, and we’ll finish those all in 2021,” Whittall said. “And then I would imagine, we would start Fashion Square, if we make the deal with Bancorp, at the end of 2021. So we pretty much have our 2020-2021 pipeline filled, but we’ll be looking for more things for 2022.”

For Carter and his team, it’s time to celebrate. He plans to take his entire office on a mini-vacation to dinner and a theme park. “It’s a huge deal,” he said. “None of it happens without the team – the pit crew.”

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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