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Owner puts WhirlyDome and retail parcels up for sale amidst rush on I-Drive land

Highlighted in blue, the two parcels being offered for sale lie on Sandy Lake, just north of the Ramada Plaza on International Drive.
Highlighted in blue, the two parcels being offered for sale lie on Sandy Lake, just north of the Ramada Plaza on International Drive. (Orange County Property Appraiser)

Following a year jam-packed with property sales and redevelopment stories along International Drive, the owner of 2.5 acres in the middle of the action wants to test the market by putting his Whirly Dome and retail parcels up for sale.

Located at 6464 I-Drive just a few hundred feet south of Wet 'n Wild, the two parcels feature  Lake Sandy frontage to their rear, and were bought for $3.6 million by Suketu Patel in July 2011, followed by a few million dollars in buildout investment.

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Patel has leased one of the parcels to bargain retail outlets, and on the other developed Whirly Dome, a 27,000-square-foot family entertainment center with arcade games, private party space and a large, electrically charged court for the bumper car-handball hybrid game known as whirlyball.

"We've been very happy here (since 2011), but looking at what some of the properties are going for now on I-Drive, we could run this business on the other side of town just as well as here," Patel told GrowthSpotter on Wednesday. "We decided to list it now and try to capitalize on the market."

Listed by Faris Lee Investments for less than 60 days, the property is zoned AC-3 by the city of Orlando, which allow for a variety of mixed use development, with up to 200 hotel/condo units per acre (ex: 400-500 units for this land overall). The two commercial buildings on site total 44,250 square feet.

"Whether you do condos or a boutique hotel here, I think (hospitality) is the best and highest use, and you clearly want to go vertical with two and a half acres of land facing the water and I-Drive," Patel said.

Patel is floating his property with an unpriced listing. Recent hotel-focused property sales on the northern end of I-Drive have fetched anywhere from $1 million to $5 million per acre, but those haven't boasted a lake view.

The two-acre Alltour America parcel on American Way drew roughly $1.3 million per acre in a Dec. 18 sale, where a small office is expected to be torn down for a future hotel. A 2.27-acre lot on American Way with a Super 8 motel drew $3.3 million per acre in a Nov. 4 sale.

InSite Group paid $15.1 million on Nov. 18 for the CoCo Key Water Resort on 9.48 acres ($1.6 million per acre), and Hollywood, Fla.-based hotel investors AD1 Global bought the Best Western on the corner of Jamaican Court and International Drive in July for an estimated $10.8 million ($5.48 million per acre). Both were considered for tear-down or major renovation by market investors.

Patel said he's passively looking for other commercial properties or vacant land parcels around Orange County to relocate his Whirly Dome business, in the event of a property sale on I-Drive. He owns the operational brand rights for the game in Central Florida.

At least 25,000 square feet would be sought in an existing commercial property for a Whirly Dome relocation, Patel said, enough to accommodate the 50-foot by 80-foot whirly ball court, and area for games and party space. He'd also consider an acre of undeveloped land for build-to-suit.

Have a tip about Central Florida development? Contact me at bmoser@growthspotter.com, (407) 420-5685 or @bobmoser333. Follow GrowthSpotter on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

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