Global developer Sternon Group won approval Tuesday from Osceola County’s W192 Development Authority for its first-ever Catalyst Site Incentive Grant, providing for up to $1.125 million toward the development of a multiphased luxury condo community near Disney.
Sternon owner Husseini Nalwalla told the W192 board he chose the 12-acre site about a mile east of Margaritaville for his project because he felt there was a pent-up demand for luxury condominiums in the tourism area that are not marketed for short-term rental.
The 208-unit Fortune Star condominiums overlooking Lake Wilson will be built over four phases with structured parking for 440 vehicles. It’s intended for primary residential use and the condo documents will require a minimum 7-month term for any lease — that will be a condition for the grant.
Mark DeLatte, Sternon’s head of project development, said the first phase is already funded for nearly $31.3 million, and the total construction cost for all four phases is expected to top $106 million. He told the board they hope to break ground in February 2022 and deliver the first building about a year later.
The W192DA created the catalyst grant program this year and seeded it with $2.5 million to create an incentive for high-quality, private investment in the tourism corridor. The maximum grant award would be $1.5 million, based on the scoring system. The Fortune Star project scored 70 out of 100 points, which qualified for the lesser amount of $1.125 million.
The project has been germinating since 2018, when Sternon paid $1.1 million for the property. DeLatte said the development team already rezoned the property to Commercial Tourist and received permits to begin the site development work. They also mitigated for environmental impacts, including the resettlement of 66 gopher tortoises.
Meanwhile, Sternon added design-build contractor FINFROCK to the project to act as architect and general contractor. FINFROCK developed and patented its own form of prefabricated construction called “DualDeck” where the company designs, manufactures and installs concrete panels. The process reduces labor costs and progresses at nearly twice the speed of standard forms of construction, as attested by client Universal Resorts — where FINFROCK built the Endless Summer Resort hotels in record time.
Nalwalla said concrete construction results in a higher quality development with better sound insulation and environmental efficiencies. It’s also termite-proof and hurricane-proof. He believes it justifies the luxury pricing for the Fortune Star units, which will start at $362,500 for a one-bedroom unit. “We used FINFROCK because of the way they construct and the quality of construction — the durability,” Nalwalla said. “With wood construction, the durability might be for 30 or 40 years, but with concrete construction, it’s 50 or 60 years.”
The amenities will include a pool overlooking Lake Wilson, outdoor grilling area, a fitness center, a coffee lounge and a dog park. DeLatte said Sternon will begin pre-selling within a few weeks.
“We’re right on the cusp,” he said. “We just got approved for our sales trailer, and we’ll be setting that up shortly. Then we’re off and running.”
Nalwalla said he purposely elected not to enter into an exclusive sales arrangement with any real estate firm or agent. “Because this is a local market,” he said. “And I want the local real estate people to come forward … so they can make a (commission) of 3-4%”
Sternon maintains corporate offices in Africa, Dubai and India, and associate offices in the UK and here in Florida. The company isn’t new to the Orlando market; it completed Sternon Plaza, a multi-tenant office condo building in Winter Springs, in 2005 and still keeps an office there.