“We were originally going to have Dave & Buster’s as a part of the project,” President Chuck Whittall told GrowthSpotter. “They were affected greatly by COVID, and they came to us in May to see they could get out of the lease.”
About the same time, Publix officials inquired about taking over the anchor spot at the center, which is located at the World Drive interchange, about 3.5 miles from the existing store at Water Tower Shoppes (also built by Unicorp.)
Whittall said the changes set the project back about two months, but Unicorp this week filed a Site Development Plan with Osceola County for the 16-acre project showing the new 48,000-square-foot Publix. The new SDP also eliminates the hotel and parking deck that were shown on earlier plans.
“We just decided not to do a hotel there,” Whittall explained. “We have plenty of other restaurants and retail uses. We’re focusing on doing neighborhood retail that really serves the community.”
Signed tenants include Walgreens, AdventHealth CentraCare, Great Clips, Club Pilates, UPS Store and Le Nails. Restaurants include Burger King, Dunkin Donuts, Domino’s, Gelato, Huey Magoo’s, NY Bread, Wine & Tapas and a French cafe.
Whittall said he expects to break ground within in the next 90 days, with completion anticipated in the Fourth Quarter of 2021.
Unicorp engaged Zyscovich Architects to design the retail buildings utilizing a Mid-Century “Deco Modern” style, with asymmetrical roof lines, pastel color palettes and materials like glass block.
RSM Design was the creative team that came up sign package, which includes a 50-foot tall monument sign that can be seen from I-4. Kimley-Horn is the civil engineer.
Unicorp and Mary L. Carter and Associates partnered last October for the $13.63 million land acquisition from Disney’s The Celebration Company.
Whittall said Publix is a natural fit for the Celebration community. The Lakeland-based grocer has thrived in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, generating an estimated $2.5 billion more in sales for the first half of the year than it did in 2019.
Whittall said he’s lost a few tenants due to COVID 19, but has already backfilled those spaces. He’s bullish on the Orlando economy, and he’s confident there will be a vaccine by the end of the year. Whittall said he, too, is doubling down on his active construction portfolio. In the last three weeks Unicorp has broken ground on a new multifamily community in Oakland and its massive O-Town West project. The company plans to start construction in September on The Mark in Horizon West.
“People say this is the new normal, but we believe everything will return to normal next year,” he said. “We’ve actually hired people to buy more land and do more deals.”