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EQT Exeter preps Development Agreement for its Apopka Commerce Center business park

Exeter built the 561,750-square-foot Air Commerce Park distribution center near the Orlando International Airport in 2018.
Exeter built the 561,750-square-foot Air Commerce Park distribution center near the Orlando International Airport in 2018. (ARCO)

More details have emerged regarding EQT Exeter’s planned Apopka Commerce Center business park along U.S. 441.

According to a Development Agreement under staff review, the real estate company is proposing to build more than 1.2 million square feet of industrial space on roughly 90 acres it owns at and around 4910 and 5101 Wesley Road.

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Online marketing material shows the first phase will consist of developing two warehouses. Building 1 will span 282,900 square feet and feature a front park rear load design and 36-foot clear heights. Building 2 will span 546,500 square feet and feature a cross-dock design with 40-foot clear heights.

Plans for the second phase include building identical warehouse buildings, each spanning 207,210 square feet with a front park rear load design and 36-foot clear heights.

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The agreement states EQT Exeter will set aside 9.85 acres for future development and will oversee the construction of infrastructure including streets, stormwater management systems, utilities, and landscaping.

Exeter Property Group purchased roughly 100 acres last year with plans to build an industrial park.
Exeter Property Group purchased roughly 100 acres last year with plans to build an industrial park. (Orange County Property Appraiser)

Last year, the company paid $14.5 million for the property, adjacent to 429 Apopka, a 230-acre industrial park developed by Lakeland-based Blue Steel Development and land developer Robert Zlatkiss, founder and president of American Land Development.

Both properties are part of a larger, roughly 330-acre portfolio of land northwest of the privately-owned Orlando Apopka Airport. The large-scale development site was made up of nearly a dozen parcels next to a nature preserve on the north shore of Lake Apopka, west of Orange Blossom Trail and north of Hogshead Road.

Attempts to reach company representatives were unsuccessful. EQT Exeter manages its warehouse properties internally, and will likely do its leasing and marketing in-house as well. Marketing material states EQT Exeter’s Jeffrey Grabowski is handling leasing efforts for the Apopka Commerce Center. Construction is anticipated to begin by the third quarter of next year.

EQT Exeter is a private REIT that engages in acquiring, developing, leasing, and managing industrial and related business park properties across the U.S. and Europe. Earlier this year, EQT AB acquired Exeter Property Group in a deal valued at $1.9 billion. The acquisition put EQT Exeter in a position to execute a number of office and industrial deals in markets including Phoenix, Indianapolis and Philadelphia.

The largest, announced Thursday, was EQT Exeter’s disposition of 7.3 million square feet of industrial space. The 74-property portfolio deal transacted for $1.2 billion, meaning it’s one of the largest U.S. industrial transactions in history, according to a news release. EQT Exeter closed on the sale on behalf of its private real estate funds, EQT Exeter Industrial Value Fund IV and related investment vehicles. The name of the buyer was not disclosed.

In 2018, the company built the 561,750-square-foot Air Commerce Park distribution center near the Orlando International Airport — its first speculative industrial space in Orlando.

Nearby its Apopka Commerce Center is BlueScope Properties Group’s 180-acre Mid Florida Logistics Park, where companies like Coca-Cola Co., Universal Orlando Resort, e-commerce giant Amazon, and Goya Foods have locations.

The Missouri-based real estate company is expecting to close on 50 acres across from the Mid-Florida Logistics Park in Apopka with plans to build 280,000 square feet of speculative industrial space.

Less than a mile away, Summit Real Estate Group is readying to build 280,000 square feet of speculative industrial space that will be split between two buildings at 2800 General Electric Road. Plans call for a 98,758-square-foot warehouse and an adjacent 181,679-square-foot warehouse.

Double B Development LLC, a company managed by real estate developer Rhonda Beninati, is also proposing to build an industrial development nearby totaling 594,000 square feet of warehouse distribution space at 4212 Hogshead Road.

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.

A third-quarter JLL industrial report says the pandemic created a massive increase in demand for e-commerce, grocery delivery, and other logistics-based services. “This environment, paired with a continued opening of the economy and an increase in tourism has paved the way for a restoration of Orlando’s central economic activities, likely enabling growth for many quarters to come, ‘the report says.

According to the report, net absorption rates have been outpacing deliveries in Metro Orlando for the past two years, meaning the market is experiencing high demand and a relatively limited supply. Throughout this year, nearly 2 million square feet have been delivered.

Rising construction costs and a shortage of sufficient land sites are also contributing to an increase in rental rates, the report says. Notable leases signed this year include LKQ’s commitment to move into Distribution 429. It’s sharing a building with a logistics-related company that’s planning to move in the first quarter of next year.

Carrier Global Corporation occupied 324,440 square at the Beltway Commerce Center.

Have a tip about Central Florida development? Contact me at arabines@GrowthSpotter.com or (407) 491-3357, or tweet me at @amanda_rabines. Follow GrowthSpotter on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

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