Double B Development LLC, a company led by real estate developer Rhonda Beninati and Rossway Swan attorney Kevin Barry, recently filed plans in Apopka seeking to build a large industrial project near Amazon’s recently completed distribution facility in Mid Florida Logistics Park.
Plans for the proposed industrial project, dubbed Apollo, call for a three-building industrial development totaling 594,000 square feet of warehouse distribution space at 4212 Hogshead Road.
Tara Tedrow, a shareholder with Lowndes who is representing the development group, said construction is slated to begin in January 2022 and end in December 2022.
The 42.6-acre site, located on the southwest corner of Hogshead Road and Conrad Road, is under contract for $6.5 million, according to LoopNet.
Laurie Marsell with Creegan Property Group is the listing agent. She told GrowthSpotter the area has seen a surge in demand that has resulted from the construction of roadway networks that stretch all throughout Florida.
“I’ve closed six deals for properties on Hermit Smith Road and Hogshead Road and every one of them was a working plant nursery at one time,” she said.
Some of the landowners’ families have owned nurseries in the area since the 1920s, according to Marsell.
“Hurricane Irma came along and wiped some of those nurseries clean, just flattened the property,” she said. “It was really worth nothing, but now it’s worth a lot more because of the positioning the roadways,” as well as the proximity to the railway, coupled with the dwindling supply of land in the area, Marsell said.
She declined to comment on the buyers or plans.
Both projects abut the 180-acre Mid Florida Logistics Park, which is located west of S.R. 429, south of General Electric Road and east of Hermit Smith Road. The industrial park, developed by BlueScope Properties, is where Amazon recently opened a new distribution facility (Lot 3). Other companies in the park include Goya Foods (Lot 1), Universal Studios Orlando (Lot 2) and Coca-Cola Co. (Lot 5).
This area of Apopka is quickly growing due in part to its access to S.R. 429. The roadway stretches around the western Orlando metropolitan area between I-4 in northwest Osceola County and S.R. 46 at Mount Plymouth in Lake County.
North of the Orlando Apopka Airport, Blue Steel Development is teaming up with joint venture partner Bob Zlatkiss to help build out 2.5 million square feet of distribution warehouse space on nearly 250 acres on U.S. 441/Orange Blossom Trail.
Last year, the joint venture paid more than $8.4 million for the property. Shortly after, Philadelphia-based real estate investment management firm Exeter Property Group paid $14.5 million for an additional 100 acres next door. A corresponding Memorandum of Development Agreement shows Exeter also intends to build an industrial park.
Rhonda Beninati entered the Central Florida industrial market two years ago. Her Austin, Texas-based family office has developed and owned both commercial and residential real estate properties throughout the nation, including first-class offices, boutique hotels and mixed-use development projects.
Rhonda Beninati is married to embattled developer Joseph Beninati, who is listed in plans as the project manager of the Apollo project in Apopka. Tedrow confirmed with GrowthSpotter that Joseph Beninati is not leading the project.
“He has never been an owner, manager, officer, investor, or signatory in Double B Development LLC or any of its affiliates,” she said in an email response to GrowthSpotter. “He is an employee.”
Joseph Beninati, who formed the New York-based real estate company Bauhouse Group in 2013, fumbled in his ambitions to build several luxury projects in New York and filed for personal bankruptcy in Texas as recently as last year, according to news articles by The Real Deal.
In 2016, Joseph Beninati defaulted on a $147 million loan for a proposed 68-story condo tower in Manhattan and lost control of the development site in a foreclosure auction. The same year, an LLC that he and his wife Rhonda Beninati were associated with filed for bankruptcy in Massachusetts. In 2020, he filed for personal bankruptcy in Texas, listing some $24 million in liabilities, according to TRD.
Tedrow said his bankruptcy was long ago settled and he was discharged of all of his debts.