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A rendering of the 10 townhomes planned for 0.5 acres at 547 N. Fern Creek Ave., on the southeast corner with E. Concord Street.
A rendering of the 10 townhomes planned for 0.5 acres at 547 N. Fern Creek Ave., on the southeast corner with E. Concord Street. (David Weekley)

Production builder David Weekley Homes is planning 10 townhomes on a half-acre site on Fern Creek Avenue in Downtown Orlando, its third such project in the downtown submarket to break ground next year, the company's local division president told GrowthSpotter.

An affiliate LLC paid $600,000 on Nov. 22 for 0.5 acres at 547 N. Fern Creek Ave., on the southeast corner with E. Concord Street.

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The developer has consulted with the City of Orlando on architectural requirements for placing 10 units on that site, and is still working through Planning & Zoning Board approval, said DW's Brent Bartholomew.

"We've gone through the HOA filing, the PD (zoning) has been approved by the city, and we're right at the edge of engineering with (development) plans submitted," he said. "Construction plans should follow in a couple months, we're going through our internal process of review. I'm thinking ground could break there in May 2017."

Details on the projected construction cost per square foot for this new product, and how it compares to the builder's single-family product line.

DW has been preparing two other half-acre parcels in downtown earlier this year for 23 townhomes, the company's first of this product type in the submarket, GrowthSpotter first reported June 8.

The first is a 0.66-acre parcel at 115 E. Concord St., just east of N. Magnolia Avenue, where DW plans a 12-lot townhome development dubbed "Lake Eola Heights."

The second is a 0.56-acre parcel at 844 N. Thornton Ave., on the southwest corner of the E. Marks Street intersection and home to a closed pediatrics center, where it plans an 11-unit, rear-loaded townhome development dubbed "Park Lake Highlands."

"We're attracted to the downtown area with the large contingent of people who want to be back downtown, especially younger folks looking for the same types of conveniences that an empty nester may be, like walkability," Bartholomew said. "I think Downtown Orlando is right at the initial stages of this."

Of the three properties David Weekley is developing downtown, the 10 townhomes at Fern Creek Avenue will be the smallest at 1,750-1,850 square feet, with three bedrooms spread over three stories. Targeting a sub-$300,000 sale price, the homes will have a two-car, rear-loaded garage in an alley running through the center of the property, Bartholomew said.

The seller was Ferncreek Development LLC, managed by Heidi Halpin of Winter Park.

She and husband Michael Halpin have been developers for years of residential and commercial sites in Downtown Orlando, and Heidi had been holding the Fern Creek property since 2005.

Retired from development, this was the last of their property holdings and Heidi deemed now a good time to sell, Michael Halpin said.

David Weekley's other two downtown sites have been approved by the city in recent months, and the company is preparing to start development in First Quarter 2017.

The developer must still demolish the pediatrics center on Marks Street, for which it has selected a demo contractor, Bartholomew said. For the Lake Eola site, two different zoning areas on the property differ on height limits, an issue being worked out with the city, he added.

Looking forward, Bartholomew wants more Downtown Orlando sites in David Weekley's development pipeline, and believes now that the company has a formula for the product it can develop faster and at lower cost in the future.

"The first few will be more expensive as we get our initial plans engineered, and find a floor plan people like that we know the city will accept," he said. "As we go forward we'll bring the price down. We don't currently have anything under contract. Half-acre has been the size for these first three sites, but we've been looking downtown for up to 3 acres."

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Madden Moorhead & Stokes, Inc., is civil engineer on the new project, and DW Homes' internal architecture staff is conducting design.

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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