The Lofts at South Lake multifamily development in Clermont, which is set for completion in the first quarter of next year, brought opportunity to developer Inland Atlantic Development Corp. in a place where it had originally looked the other way.
When the previous owner of the land originally approached the company about completing a medical-office project on the property, Inland declined: "We don't do that kind of work," president John DiGiovanni said. But a search for multifamily properties didn't bear fruit, and he remembered the parcel where the office park hadn't been completed – owned by Belgian Capital Fund LLC, run by a contact Inland had done business with in the past. The site, home to medical offices bought and owned by individual physcians, was next to South Lake Hospital north of State Road 50.
"A couple of years went by -- we started hearing good things about Clermont, that it's growing very quickly, and it had become desirable to folks who worked in Orlando. And in addition, via U.S. 27, people were going out to work at Disney and the other attractions. So we started taking a closer look there, looked at some other sites and none seemed to work out. And I remembered that individual owner who we already knew, and asked him what he ever did with it, and he said, 'It's still there.' And I asked if he ever thought about getting it rezoned." The hospital and other nearby medical jobs suddenly held appeal as employment generators for tenants.
After working to get entitlements in place, Inland bought the property in September 2017 and faced its next challenge -- how best to incorporate an existing two-story parking structure, a portion of which is for use by existing medical offices on the site, into a Class A apartment complex.
"What we wanted was for people to be able to park on the second level [of the garage] and ... walk right into the building," DiGiovanni said. That meant 20-foot-high ceilings for the first floor, which is mostly lobby and amenities areas with few residences, he said. It also meant an innovative structural approach with Clermont's first podium-construction approach, he said.
Amenities include a chef's kitchen for cooking with friends and family or cooking demonstrations, as well as Amazon lockers, a pet facility and a bike facility.
Roger B. Kennedy Construction of Altamonte Springs is general contractor and ORA Architecture of Raleigh, N.C., with Andrew Iatridus leading efforts handled the design., Denham Engineering LLC is the original civil engineer on the development, said DiGiovanni, who attended University of Central Florida.
Inland continues to seek opportunities in Central Florida, with criteria leaning toward infill areas close to office and retail as opposed to suburban. DiGiovanni mentioned an Atlanta project that's transit-oriented as an example.
"This really is an infill location in Clermont itself because the hospital is there, there's retail around, and it's a partially developed site with the doctors there," he said, also mentioning the nearby National Training Center as an activity hub in the vicinity. Inland doesn't have a hold timeline in mind for Lofts at South Lake.
Two other Inland-developed Lofts projects in Lake Mary and Sanford were completed in 2016 and 2017 respectively and have been sold.
"I don't think it's by design, but all three of those deals were broken deals that were something else before the recession," DiGiovanni said.