Highwoods preps beautification investment options for Lake Eola office tower

Highwoods Properties is exploring a sizable investment in redesigning the hardscape and landscape frontage for one of its most recognizable office buildings in downtown Orlando. 

Located at 200 E. Robinson St. on the southeast corner with Rosalind Avenue and Lake Eola, the 14-story Eola Park Centre was built in 1969 and has about 168,000 square feet of leasable area, with a 91 percent occupancy rate as of this week.  

In what appears to be an effort to keep up with more modern office buildings in the Central Business District, Highwoods is consulting city planners on options for a thorough update of the property's landscaping, hardscape amenities and street-level signage.

Bruce Hall, principal landscape architect with SM&E, is leading the planning for Highwoods to reconfigure the Eola Park Centre's parking lot and front plaza. 

Design proposals, which have yet to be formally filed with the city, include a new and more modern waist-high hardscape wall around the western and northern sides of the building that face the intersection. 

A mid-century, sans-serif font is used to brand the building's name on the western wall. That boundary would create an enclosed private courtyard on what is now a public access point to the building, with lush new landscaping, covered seating and potential outdoor amenities, based on conceptual renderings shared with the city. 

Local officials with Highwoods declined to comment on Wednesday regarding plans for the property. 

The Downtown Orlando submarket had the highest average rental rate ($26.35 per square foot) through the first quarter of this year among 10 area submarkets, according to Cite Partners' latest quarterly office market report. 

And rents in the Central Business District are expected to continue rising, with Church Street Plaza's groundbreaking as the first new Class A building in downtown since 2012 prompting a pre-lease ask of $35.50 per square foot. That building's large availability (215,000 SF of office) and high rate is driving competition among property managers, and prompting a 6.9 percent increase in average asking rates downtown, per JLL's Office Insight report for Q1. 

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