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A conceptual plan for Lennar's International Drive Resort Community, which lies near the former Artegon mall (to the north) and the Universal Studios (to the west).
A conceptual plan for Lennar's International Drive Resort Community, which lies near the former Artegon mall (to the north) and the Universal Studios (to the west). (City of Orlando/GrowthSpotter)

Lennar Homes just bought a large undeveloped parcel in the Orlando’s I-Drive tourism corridor with plans to develop a resort community that will feature water park component at its center.

According to a deed recently recorded in Orange County, the homebuilding giant spent $26.25 million to acquire a little more than 70 acres of land at 5001 Vanguard Street.

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The property lies south of where South Florida-based Dezer Development is repurposing the former Artegon Marketplace into Dezerland, a mixed-use entertainment project that will consist of a 500-car museum and luxury apartments.

Lennar has been pursuing the opportunity to develop one of its upscale short-term rental communities on the land for some time now.

In August, GrowthSpotter reported that Lennar had filed plans in Orlando seeking to build up to 62 detached homes, 200 vacation townhomes and 240 resort condos.

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The yet-to-be-named project will be the first product of the type developed by Lennar in the city of Orlando, Lennar’s local division president, Brock Nicholas, said.

Plans for the development mimic its Storey Lake community in Osceola County, where its vacation homes surround an amenity center with a water park.

According to the project narrative, the International Drive resort community will be made up of units ranging in size from 1,000 to 5,000 square feet.

As part of the deal, Lennar is also working with selling entity I Drive Investors LLC, which is teaming up with Coral Gables-based Southern Hill Real Estate, to develop land retained by the seller on the northwest corner of the property.

“We’re going to be site planning concurrently with Lennar to keep the time frames [of development] as close to each other as possible,” Randy Hill, president of Southern Hill Real Estate, told GrowthSpotter.

The 8-acre site is entitled to include 300 hotel rooms, 45,000 square feet of restaurant space and 60,000 square feet of retail. Hill said more detailed plans will likely be released by the second quarter of 2020.

“Now that we’ve closed with Lennar, we’re going to role up our sleeves and see what we think is best for the site,” Hill said. “So far, we’ve seen significant interest come from the hotel industry... We must have received 15 different LOIs.”

The development is Southern Hill Real Estate’s first project in Central Florida. It typically specializes in both commercial and residential development, brokerage, acquisitions and consulting services throughout South Florida.

The commercial plaza will be accessible to the public, while the resort community will be gated. Nicholas said Lennar is working with surrounding property owners to improve walkability and connectivity between projects.

The Planned Development amendment and master plan were approved by Orlando’s Municipal Planning Board in October and accepted by the City Council on Dec. 9.

According to Nicholas, Lennar is currently undergoing the environmental permitting process.

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The development team includes Poulos & Bennett, civil engineering, and Michael Redd & Associates for land planning. Modica & Associates is the environmental engineer.

The land acquisition on I-Drive adds to a string of purchases by Lennar for similar projects.

Last year, Lennar bought more than 320 acres next to its Story Lake project so it may build a sister resort community consisting of 570 homes called Shingle Creek.

Earlier this year, Lennar also expanded its ChampionsGate Country Club and resort holdings by 156 acres. With that acquisition complete, the homebuilder has more than 1,400 more homesites in the pipeline at ChampionsGate.

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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