After paying top dollar a decade ago for 16.6 acres on Boggy Creek Road, Orlando-based EspoGroup had to switch gears and come up with a new plan for the property to recoup their investment.
"When we bought this land back in 2005 we paid $2.5 million," EspoGroup Manager Jose Notaro told GrowthSpotter. "We had to find a way to get our money back, to get the highest and best use."
When they bought the land, they rezoned it to a Planned Development to build 83 town homes. But after the real estate crash Notaro and his partners realized they needed higher density. The land cost alone would have added $30,000 to the price of each unit.
So they rezoned it a second time in 2015 to allow for a 184-unit apartment complex plus a 100-bed assisted living facility (ALF) with memory care.
The site plan for Marbella Lakes even reserves land for a future expansion of the ALF. The total project budget is $22 million.
Notaro said he chose the name because he and his wife, a native of Spain, have a special attachment to the city of Marbella on the Andalusian coast.
EspoGroup has been in Orlando since 2002, and has completed several retail and office projects in the Orlando and Kissimmee market. All four partners are originally from Venezuela or Italy.
The second Marbella rezoning delayed the project for about a year, but Notaro said he hopes to break ground within the next six months. EspoGroup filed engineering plans this week with the South Florida Water Management District and Osceola County.
AIP Design President Ernesto Gonzalez is the project architect. The developer, which recently completed a 60,000-square-foot shopping center on Semoran Boulevard, originally planned to build Marbella Lakes in one phase but now will focus on the apartment complex first -- and they're in the market for a general contractor and a property management firm.
The developer will install the infrastructure in Phase 1 for the ALF, but is looking for someone with experience in the industry before embarking on that project.
"Right now, there's no way we can build the assisted living by ourselves," Notaro said. "We can build it for someone who knows the business. Or we can offer a ground lease."
The apartment complex will be a gated community comprised of two-bedroom and three-bedroom garden-style apartments. The buildings will be three stories with elevators and indoor corridors; and all units will have balconies, washer/dryer, vinyl plank floors and stainless steel appliances.
"We want it to be modern and contemporary, but not too expensive for the area," he said.