Updated: Rare vacation-condo project in Orange to see 160 new units start rising next year

Bill Zimmerman
GrowthSpotter

A short-term-rental condominium project along Universal Boulevard is progressing through the entitlements process in Orange County, with the Ormond Beach-based Taiwanese investors who own the land looking to perform a lot split in order to proceed with construction of Reserve at Vista Cay early next year.

Applicant Winter Park Construction of Maitland, in plans prepared by Florida Engineering Group of Orlando, details plans for 160 condo-hotel units in four buildings on 8.51 acres at The Reserve at Vista Cay. Those construction numbers match what has been built on the adjoining 8.36 acres along Lake Cay, with plans for all eight buildings approved in 2004.

The site, located on Universal Boulevard southeast of Destination Parkway and north of the interchange with State Road 528, saw work come to a halt because of the recession. Now nearby development and demand should make the timing of the project "fortuitious," said Drew Frahm, vice president at Vista Cay Resort, handling marketing/sales and serving as project manager. 

"Everything is really going to make it a very desirable location," he said.

Plans from 2004 are reflected in this week’s filing, with designs still to be finalized. Presales are progressing quickly, with about 50 percent spoken for so far. Price start in the high 200s.

"Because of the location and the product history ... it's a well-established brand," Frahm told GrowthSpotter on Nov. 2. "That helps out, as opposed to selling off plans, raw land, selling a picture in their head. They can see it, they can stay in it."

Designs with 10 units per floor in four-story buildings are taking shape for the eastern 8-plus acres, similar to those built previously facing the water. Square footages will be only slightly smaller, at 65,896 total for the second phase compared to 66,769 existing. Fugleberg Koch of Winter Park is the architect.

Terracon Consultants Inc. of Winter Park is on geotechnical and PEC Surveying and Mapping of Oviedo is surveyor.

All site, utility and drainage improvements were built out by the previous developer, FEG’s cover letter for the application states. An easement provides shared usage of shared parking, drainage, utility, recreational area and and vehicular cross-access, with a Property Owner Association planned to manage shared facilities among Reserve at Vista Cay and the four other home owner associations on the property. Site work could begin by the end of the year, with vertical construction perhaps starting in March; the process of the lot split, requested by county officials, Frahm said, has affected timing.

Winter Park Construction had been brought on last year by the owners, working under affiliate Sparkle Two LLC of Daytona Beach, to handle project cost estimates. It will stay on for the build, Frahm said.

Yun-Chung Hsueh and Hsiu Lan Tu, who split time between Vancouver and Volusia County, paid $4.8 million in late May for the site at 4001 Breakview Drive -- one of the few in Orange County entitled for short-term rental. In 2009, homeowners association Vista Cay At Harbor Square Master Community Association Inc. had taken the property in lieu of foreclosure from Pulte Home Corp. The latest filings request a Development Plan Change Determination.

The sale was spurred in part by county assessors changing the tax rate for the site based on the infrastructure that had been put in place, Frahm said, but market conditions made the development appealing.

"Now things are ramping up in that corridor of Universal Boulevard, and the timing seemed good to purchase the development," he said. "... There's talk about expansion of the [Orange County] Convention Center, as well as Universal, Topgolf and Andretti Karting are already in there. Whatever parcels are left in the area already seem to be scheduled for development."

The area is seeing increased activity of late, extending to the South Park area of John Young Parkway, as Universal Orlando prepares to develop its 540-plus acres where a theme park is likely on the largest contiguous portion. Buyers of commercial properties in the area cite the Universal plans as a factor that creates interest in developing and investing there. 

For short-term or vacation rentals, "demand has remained high there because it's pretty much the only place you can do short-term rental and be near Universal," Brent Ferry of Global Real Estate Services Inc., which previously sold and managed units in Vista Cay Resort, told GrowthSpotter last year.

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