Canadian residential developer Geosam Capital is preparing to convert its 150-unit The Residences at Veranda Park apartments in MetroWest back to their original condominium state, with sales to start in January and development plans in review for an adjacent 13.5 waterfront acres, the company's COO told GrowthSpotter.
Geosam entered the Florida market in 2009 to begin buying broken condominium projects in strategic cities like Tampa, Orlando, St. Petersburg and Fort Myers. Its U.S. affiliate is now based in New Smyrna Beach, where it's developing the 1,410-acre Venetian Bay planned community.
In 2011, affiliate Geosam Veranda LLC spent more than $18 million to acquire about 15 acres directly south of the MetroWest Golf Course. That included the 150-unit The Residences at 2121 S. Hiawassee Road, an elaborate Mediterranean-designed condo property that was struggling at the time with unit ownership, and little lease activity on its 48,000 square feet of ground floor retail space.
That bargain value included more than 13.5 undeveloped acres directly west and south of The Residences. It was all envisioned in 2005 as a vibrant mixed-use community by original developer Kevin Azzouz, the Orlando Sentinel has previously reported. He built about half of Veranda Park before losing the property to a lender foreclosure, and legal challenges from contractors and property associations during the recession.
Geosam successfully converted The Residences from condo to rental apartments following 2011, leased those to full capacity, and now owns and manages roughly 76,300 square feet of commercial space among three buildings in the Veranda Park development.
"We think the market is ready now to return this property to condominiums," said David L. Peter, COO with Geosam Capital US. "We've invested and turned it around quite a bit."
Olde Town Brokers has been chosen by Geosam to help coordinate the condo conversion, and will list the units for sale starting in January.
Olde Town is well-versed in the process, assisting owners with past condo conversions that include the Osceola Brownstones, Thornton Park Central, Star Tower and Park North in Downtown Orlando, and Audubon North.
Geosam will offer its current tenants at The Residences a first opportunity in the coming weeks to buy a condo unit before active selling begins in January.
The 150 units include 30 one-bedrooms, 58 two-beds and 62 three-beds, and range from 553 square feet to 1,750 square feet in size. Pricing will start in the upper $100,000s for one-bedroom units, said Stephen DeCristo, broker-associate with Olde Town.
Each unit features 10-foot ceilings, new stainless steel appliances, granite counter tops, marble floors, walk-in showers and large marble bathtubs. Situated on the top three floors of a six-story building, most apartment balconies offer skyline views of Downtown Orlando and International Drive.
The property's amenities include two large courtyards with Italian fountains in the center and outdoor seating, two hot tubs and private storage units. A 22,000-square-foot gym (The Body Club) will be open to tenants, which features a spa room with saunas and jacuzzis.
The property is in an increasingly walkable area of MetroWest, with a pharmacy and retail strip less than 1,200 feet away, and a Publix-anchored shopping center just over 2,100 feet to the west. The new Veranda Park Farmer's Market was started in October, is now held every Saturday and recently expanded to 60 vendors.
Geosam and Olde Town will be applying the property for Federal Housing Administration certification. This can open up sales opportunity to buyers with low down payments, but that process may take up to a year for approval.
In conjunction with its condo conversion, Geosam is looking to future development on its neighboring 13.5 acres. It received City of Orlando approval in July to build up to 634 multifamily units with structured parking.
The approved development would encompass about 10 acres of that undeveloped land, directly west of The Residences and to its south fronting a large pond. About 3.5 acres which front Hiawassee Road would be left for development into more retail, which has not been applied for yet.
Up to four new multifamily buildings would comprise the 634 approved units. Geosam is now working up designs, construction costs and market feasibility studies to determine when it may proceed with the second phase, Peter said.
The company even has a head start on materials. A portion of its parking garage at The Residences is filled with dozens of crates of unused marble pavers, relic orders from original developer Azzouz's plan for a mini-city in Veranda Park.