UPDATED: JANUARY 21, 2019 5:22 PM — The dearth of Class A office space in the south Lake County is about to be addressed in a big way with a new real estate development firm bringing what it calls a "marquee" 3-story structure to FL Highway 50 in Clermont.
Fifty West, the flagship building for Fifty West Realty LLC, will be a 28,900 square foot structure encased in glass and built with cross-laminated timber, or CLT. It is planned for the north side of Highway 50 just west of Magnolia Pointe Boulevard in the Plaza Collina development.
It is Clermont's first Class A office building.
"We really wanted to make a statement," said Keith Kovatch, a principal at Fifty West Realty with his father, Tom. "We didn't want people to drive by Highway 50 or the Turnpike and say, 'Make a left at the brown stucco building.' People will say, 'Turn left at the Fifty West building,' and people will know what you're talking about. We wanted to create what we would call a marquee building, and in order to do that, we created something different than what anyone else has done."
The first floor of the building, with 9,634 square feet, is being marketed as high-end retail, professional and medical space. Floors two and three will feature 19,266 square feet of modern office space. First-floor space leases at $35 per square foot, with the office space going for $25.
The glass enclosure and custom LED lighting will showcase 14-foot ceilings.
Cross-laminated timber consists of layers of lumber stacked perpendicular to each other and glued to form structural panels with exceptional strength, dimensional stability and rigidity. It is often left exposed in interiors to create a warm and welcoming environment.
The Kovatches said Fifty West is the first structure in the Southeast to use CLT. It is considered to have a lighter environmental footprint than concrete or steel, and provides other benefits including reduced waste, improved thermal performance and design versatility.
"It's super exciting" to be part of the Fifty West project, said Jeff Powell, whose Powell Studio Architecture in Clermont designed the building. "Every architect dreams when he's going through school to be a pioneer, and it's really good to be part of the first CLT building in the state of Florida."
The construction method is more common in Europe, and Powell said he hopes Fifty West will demonstrate its viability to other Florida builders and designers.
"We're dealing with the most sustainable and renewable resource that we have," Powell said.
David Colby, chairman and chief executive of the South Lake Chamber of Commerce, called the project "a great addition" to the area.
"There are many great things going on, and this is a fantastic complement to a lot of the growth going on right now," Colby said.
No tenant have yet been named. The building is expected to open late this year.
"The location is interesting – it's at the gateway to Clermont and our South Lake area," Colby said. "It's a prime spot, and it's going to be very accessible from major highway routes. It's going to be a nice landmark for us, as well. The general concept is great, and fills more and more of a need for office space. They're not going to have any problem finding tenants."
Tom Kovatch is the founder and president of UIC Inc., one of the largest independent risk management consulting firms in the world, and the family has an investment arm that has backed start-up enterprises primarily in the technological and biopharmaceutical markets. He described Fifty West Realty as "an offshoot of our overall portfolio of alternative investments."
The Fifty West building will be "unique, phenomenal, and a great opportunity for anyone who wants to be part of something that will make an impression," he said. "If you're a tenant in this building, you won't have to worry about making an impression."