Developer set to close on 18 acres in Ocoee, seeks lender for $12M charter school

A rendering of the new K-8 Montessori school dubbed Innovation Charter School proposed for Ocoee.
A rendering of the new K-8 Montessori school dubbed Innovation Charter School proposed for Ocoee. (City of Ocoee)

Washington, D.C.-based charter school developer Building Hope should close on nearly 18 acres next week in Ocoee and break ground a month later on a $12 million school, and has to yet choose its construction lender, a lead executive with the company told GrowthSpotter.

Located at 1646-1610 N. Lakewood Ave., the 17.57-acre property has been owned by Ocoee resident Jose Percy for nearly 20 years. Building Hope, a non-profit charter school foundation, has the site under contract for $900,000 and is scheduled to close on March 9, Percy said.


The construction professional plans to reinvest his proceeds from the sale in new real estate, and will be looking for a multifamily asset that can offer a passive stream of income.

The new K-8 Montessori school will be named Innovation Charter School of Ocoee, with a capacity for up to 850 students. It will replace the current Winter Garden Montessori School, which is maxed out now at 303 students in a converted retail strip center under lease.

The property was annexed into Ocoee in mid-January, and has a site plan now under review by the city for its Phase 1 building, which would serve Pre-K and Kindergarten classes with a targeted opening in August. Phase 2 construction will focus on an elementary schools for grades 1-8, with plans to open in January 2018.

The company expects to break ground with Element Commercial Construction within 30 days of next week's closing, and will aim to close on a construction loan before then, said Richard Moreno, Southern Region vice president. Building Hope has relationships with national lenders, but prefers to source from local banks when possible, he added.

"This location was a good choice for the Montessori school because the (curriculum) involves being close to nature, and this site has a unique natural preserve on its back side," Moreno said.

The property has about 5 acres of wetlands and is heavily wooded. The developer plans to retain up to 200 trees, he added.

Building Hope will continue to look for property in Greater Orlando for new charter school locations, Moreno said.

The new Montessori school and a Renaissance Charter School that opened last August are located in areas of the city that have been focal points of residential growth in recent years, said Angel de la Portilla, governmental consultant with Central Florida Strategies, Inc., and economic development advisor to Ocoee.

Ocoee has had 469 new single-family homes permitted in the past three years, 772 new apartment units in 2014 and 2015, and 1,293 single-family lots approved across 13 new subdivisions.

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