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Industrial Real Estate Developments

Soon-to-open industrial park features lifestyle amenities to gain competitive edge

The project, developed by Parkway Property Investments, calls for two miles of jogging trails and will be anchored by a fitness facility with showers and a locker room available for employees.

Amid a surge in industrial construction activity across Central Florida where millions of warehouse square footage is being built, developers are churning out creative ideas to set their projects apart from the rest.

One example is Lakeland Central Park, which is nearing completion along Old Tampa Highway near the intersection of I-4 and the Polk Parkway. Not only will it feature a 705,000-square-foot spec warehouse available to lease along with open land for future distribution centers, but the 700-acre property will also boast lifestyle amenities typically found in residential communities.

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The project, developed by Orlando-based Parkway Property Investments, calls for two miles of jogging trails and will be anchored by a fitness facility with showers and a locker room available for employees.

Lakeland Central Park, which is nearing completion along Old Tampa Highway near the intersection of I-4 and the Polk Parkway, will feature a 705,000-square-foot spec warehouse available to lease along with open land for future distribution centers. But the 700-acre property will also boast lifestyle amenities typically found in residential communities.

Matt Sullivan and Wilson McDowell with JLL are spearheading leasing efforts for the soon-to-open warehouse as well as three additional pad-ready sites that can hold another 2.9 million square feet.

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“It’s creating more of a business park environment within an industrial park,” said John Dunphy, an executive managing director with JLL who focuses on the greater Tampa area, including Polk County. “These amenities, like trails and a fitness center, will hopefully attract bigger and better candidates to the park.”

Polk County alone has seen the completion of 15.6 million square feet of industrial space over the past five years, with 4.1 million square feet currently under construction, according to recent JLL market reports.

Projects underway include a 1.2 million-square-foot Lowe’s distribution center, a 780,000-million-square-foot Ace Hardware warehouse, and a 710,000-million-square-foot Home Depot distribution hub. All of these are going along County Line Road, a short drive from Lakeland Central Park.

“At the end of the day, everybody is competing for workers and labor,” Dunphy said. “We are trying to differentiate ourselves by providing some of these amenities. When you’re competing for workers with Lowe’s and Home Depot or Amazon, it’s important. It’s in an area that companies have shown they want to be in, but when (you) can further differentiate (yourself) and go to the next level and offer something that the next guy doesn’t have, it just gives you a leg up.”

Tenants continue to be drawn to Polk County due to its centralized location and rent discounts compared to other Florida markets.

Despite the market’s asking rate increase, Polk County still provides a 35% and 17% rent discount when compared to Tampa Bay and Orlando, respectively, according to the most recent JLL industrial market report that reflects the third quarter of 2022.

“Polk County has had an excellent run,” Dunphy added. “If you look at Polk County, within a 100-mile radius, you’re going to hit roughly 12 or 13 million people that you can distribute to from Polk County. For your distributors that are trying to get to the state’s population, Polk is in the middle of all of that.”

According to a news release from JLL, the Lakeland Central Park property also has entitlements for future hotel development and appropriate community-serving retail.

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Whit Duncan, the managing director of development with Parkway Properties who is leading the Lakeland Central Park project, could not be reached for comment.

The company has other projects in Central Florida that mix employment centers with other uses.

The 153-acre Lake Mary Wellness and Technology Park, located along I-4 near Primera Boulevard, is almost 100% built out with only two acres of commercial space not yet under contract.

The 153-acre Lake Mary Wellness and Technology Park, located along I-4 near Primera Boulevard, is almost 100% built out with only two acres of commercial space not yet under contract. The site is home to a 300-unit apartment community, the Helix at Lake Mary, shown here, and a 50-lot townhome community built by David Weekley Homes.

“It’s a fantastic development,” said Parkway’s Land Development Director Rich Toomey. “We have a combination of health, offices, medical offices, and some residential as well. It’s a great mixed-use project. Everything kind of feeds off each other.”

Orlando Health is building a $500 million hospital on the site while work is underway on a 123-room Hilton Hotel, Toomey said.

Parkway has sold off 450,000 square feet of class-A office space and Sonota Healthcare is wrapping up construction on a 212-bed assisted living community.

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Also on the residential side, the Wellness and Technology Park is home to a 300-unit apartment community, the Helix at Lake Mary, and a 50-lot townhome community built by David Weekley Homes

Parkway is also developing a smaller-scale mixed-use project in Clermont on 64 acres. The project comprises the final phase of the Johns Lake Landing PUD on State Road 50, where the company started construction on an upscale 300-unit apartment community called The Skyline this month.

“These will all be two-story units that look like townhomes with garages tucked underneath,” Toomey said. “We will have a high-line clubhouse with all of the state-of-the-art amenities. We also will have a stand-alone, two-bay, car wash building and a stand-alone, two-bay dog grooming station building. All of this will be situated on 22 acres of beautifully landscaped areas including a pool and other outdoor activity areas.”

David Weekley is also under contract to build 50 homes at Johns Lake Landing, which also includes a Wendy’s, a daycare center, showrooms for Rooms 2 Go and Ashley Furniture, and more.

Toomey said it makes sense to put as many products — hospitals, homes, retailers, offices and more — on one property as possible.

“The traffic has gotten so bad to get from point A to point B,” he said. “It’s better to have live, work, and play all in one place.”

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Have a tip about Central Florida development? Contact me at (407)-800-1161 or dwyatt@GrowthSpotter.com, or tweet me at @DustinWyattGS. Follow GrowthSpotter on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.


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