Owner of vacant Downtown Orlando office building hires broker, finalizes reno plans

Bob Moser
GrowthSpotter

Flint, Mich.-based developer West Second Street Associates is finalizing designs for a complete renovation of the former AT&T office building in Downtown Orlando, has hired a local real estate broker to market the space and could start construction as soon as this Fall, the company's founder told GrowthSpotter

Located on the northwest corner of N. Orange Avenue and W. Amelia Street, the 2.25-acre parcel features a five-story building with about 118,500 square feet, built in 1980. 

WSSA acquired the property and building for $7 million in March 2015 from Southern Bell Telephone and Telegraph. It has remained vacant for the past 24 months. 

"We see a gap in the market in terms of available Class A office product, and after studying several different redevelopment options, including multifamily, we've decided to pursue a Class A office repositioning," said Troy Farah, founder and managing partner. "So we're in the end of schematic design right now with Baker Barrios. We haven't made any filings with the city yet, that could occur in the next 30 days. If the stars align, we could start construction in early Fall." 

WSSA had been listing the property itself for the past two years, but in recent weeks hired Micah Strader and Bobby Palta of CBRE's Orlando office to market the future office and retail space. 

Plans involve cutting and stripping the building down to its skeleton, completely re-skinning it with nearly all glass, and installing new HVAC, mechanical infrastructure and elevators. 

"It's a glass curtain wall system with a very urban tech, modern feel to the design," Farah said. "Our goal is to market to the traditional corporate office user, but also the technology community."

The building would retain its 118,500 square feet of office space, add an estimated 10,000 square feet of ground-floor retail, and a 200-space parking garage on the building's rear. Farah estimates the potential investment well over $30 million.

The building's infrastructure boasts 15-foot floors between each concrete slab, whereas similar office buildings typically have 10 to 11 feet in order to achieve a nine-foot ceiling. The unique height and all-glass façade should offer an attractive window line. 

The company initially considered in 2015 to convert the building into a 354-unit multifamily complex, but the demand for downtown apartments and price per square foot didn't support their cost of conversion, a WSSA executive told GrowthSpotter last October

Similar study of demolition and new construction for multifamily also didn't meet their investment goals for the property. WSSA changed gears in early 2016, after learning that large blocks of office space were in high demand in Downtown Orlando.

The Downtown/Central Business District submarket had a 12.1 percent office vacancy rate in Fourth Quarter 2016 and an average asking lease rate of $25 per square foot, according to CBRE's last quarterly market report. 

Large blocks of 40,000 square feet or more are essentially non-existent in the Downtown Orlando office market, and demand for such is slowly driving up rents and redevelopment interest in the area. 

Have a tip about Central Florida development? Contact me at bmoser@growthspotter.com, (407) 420-5685 or @bobmoser333. Follow GrowthSpotter on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

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