An aerial view of the 18 acres of land Unicorp's Chuck Whittall is developing into a luxury home community called Carmel.
An aerial view of the 18 acres of land Unicorp's Chuck Whittall is developing into a luxury home community called Carmel. (carmelorlando.com)

Chuck Whittall, president of Unicorp National Developments Inc., is working with state and cataloging agencies to help preserve and rebury some indigenous remains found on the site where he intends to build multimillion-dollar homes.

The upscale residential community will be called Carmel, and the site itself — spanning about 18 acres on Lake Tibet — has been a personal mission for the developer to own, having spent more than 15 years studying and pursuing the property before recently closing a deal in June for $18 million.

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Prior to purchasing the land, it was made apparent that he may be dealing with a Native American burial site. The developer then had to work with state officials to carefully excavate any possible remains.

Whittall told GrowthSpotter they had found remnants in the form of archaeological materials such as pottery, beads and tools on the property with links to the Seminole Tribe of Florida.

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Developer Chuck Whittall said he plans to start construction in January on the $1 billion mixed-use district in the heart of Orlando's tourism corridor.

Cataloging work is now underway, he said. The next phase would be to rebury the remains. Whittall said he intends to dedicate about a quarter-acre of the property to that effort.

At an Orange County development review board meeting this week, Whittall asked to decrease the initial lot count from 13 to 11, among other waivers. Staff agreed on a motion to approve his request, but asked he submit a letter from an official state entity that may attest that the remains were properly handled.

At the meeting, Orange County’s engineer Diana Almodovar said “this is the first time I’ve dealt with an Indian burial site.”

Jennifer Stickler of Kimley-Horn is the civil engineer. Stockworth Realty Group’s Julie Bettosini is handling sales and Jones Clayton Construction Inc. is the builder.

Whittall said the reduction in lot count allows the future residences to sit on larger lots. The prices for the homes will range from about $4 million to $15 million. The developer also intends to build a home for himself at the property, which is located west of the Masters Boulevard and Hubbard Place intersection.

Unicorp is behind the $1 billion O-Town West mixed-use developments in the tourism corridor and a Dave & Buster’s-anchored entertainment and retail complex in Celebration.

Among their completed projects are Icon Orlando 360 on International Drive that includes the 400-foot observation wheel. Other projects include Dellagio’s restaurant complex on Sand Lake Road, the Griffin Farm at Midtown shopping center in Lake Mary and the Trader Joe’s and Bulla Gastrobar-anchored centers in Winter Park, which he sold earlier this year.

The firm is also under contract for about 46 acres underneath the Orlando Fashion Square mall. In August, GrowthSpotter reported on its plans to redevelop the aging shopping center into a mixed-use community with over 1,000 apartments, a hotel and grocery store. Unicorp is scheduled to close on Sept. 27 on the $23 million cash purchase.

Have a tip about Central Florida development? Contact me at arabines@GrowthSpotter.com or (407) 420-5427, or tweet me at @amanda_rabines. Follow GrowthSpotter on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

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