Gator's Dockside could break ground in June on a new restaurant site northeast of Lake Nona and has yet to hire a broker to market adjacent pads for mixed use, while a neighboring land owner wants to tweak his zoning for potential sale to a church -- or homebuilder.
The Orlando-based restaurant chain paid $2.3 million in January 2016 for a 3.8-acre parcel on Narcoossee Road south of S.R. 417, where the company plans its 26th restaurant and an additional 33,000 square feet of office/retail across two buildings.
Co-founder John Foerst told GrowthSpotter he received permit approval for the property last week from the South Florida Water Management District. A permit request for infrastructure construction is under review by Orange County.
He hopes to have construction and utility permits from the county in May, and begin work on infrastructure and a lift station shortly after.
The 7,000-square-foot Gator's Dockside restaurant will be built first, a $3 million investment that should break ground in the Third Quarter and open by year's end, Foerst said. The restaurant and infrastructure work will be funded solely with company equity, he noted.
Pads for the neighboring two office/retail buildings would follow. Pegged at $5 million to $6 million each, the buildings have no timeline for vertical construction, Foerst said. He hasn't started marketing that office/retail space for pre-lease yet, or hired a commercial brokerage to lead the effort.
LAM Civil Engineering has led the project thus far, and while a general contractor hasn't been hired yet, EDC Group has built past Gator's Docksides and has the inside track, Foerst said.
The property is part of the Lake Barton PD, which includes a neighboring 14.8 acres directly east owned by Lake Barton LLC, an affiliate of William "Al" Smith, his son "Kirby" Smith and their family trust. The Smiths were large-scale property owners in Southeast Orlando that have sold off hundreds of acres near Narcoossee Road in the past few decades.
That site has long been approved for 14 single-family lots through the PD, and was brought under contract by developer Mark Maciel years ago, who dropped the contract after deeming development costs too high.
The Smiths now have a potential buyer in ReThink Life Church, who petitioned in December to add 120,000 square feet of religious institution use within the PD, as another option to the 14 single-family home lots.
A community meeting was held Feb. 23 for the proposed church, which has drawn opposition from nearby residents over traffic concerns. An associated Comprehensive Plan amendment should go before the county's Planning and Zoning Commission on May 18, with a PD change determination moving concurrently through staff approvals. Both applications could arrive at the Board of County Commissioners in June.
If the zoning change isn't approved to allow sale to the church, the Smiths would re-market the property to single-family homebuilders. William A. Beckett of Lowndes, Drosdick, Doster, Kantor & Reed, P.A., has been representing the land owner.
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