A Saudi Arabian investor should decide in 60 days on how to proceed with development and marketing plans for 32.5 acres on Lake Whippoorwill east of Lake Nona Landing, the project's development coordinator told GrowthSpotter.
Located in the 12000 block of Narcoossee Road, directly north of Missionary group Pioneers USA's 54 acres where redevelopment is also planned, the site has been occupied in recent years by small houses, an auto parts store and the Lake Whippoorwill and Barton Lake mobile home parks.
The property features 35 upland acres, of which about 2.5 acres may be subtracted for wetland preserve.
Abdulrahman Al Helayel, a Saudi Arabian national living in France with a local home in St. Cloud, spent more than $11.1 million in 2012 and 2013 to assemble the nine parcels totaling 45 gross acres, via affiliate LLCs Al Kharj and Al Yamama.
Shaid Ahmad, a general contractor and owner of Longwood-based Shamoon Design Group, Inc., was hired by Al Helayel in 2015 to lead the property through entitlements and prepare it for sale and leasing.
The land was annexed into the city in April 2016, with dense development potential of up to 90,000 square feet of commercial-retail, 30,000 square feet of office, 225 multifamily units and 129 townhomes.
But after filing initial paperwork in April 2017 with the city of Orlando for a master plan for Phase 1 site work, progress on development slowed in the latter half of 2017, due in part to the owner simply not having great financial motivation, Ahmad said.
"He paid cash for this so the carrying costs are not hurting him," he said. "There have been a lot of inquiries about selling the property, but (Al Helayel) doesn't seem too interested in selling it. I suspect he will develop because of an interest in the long-term revenue, but one way or another something must be done soon because the market is high and the property is valuable."
Ahmad recently filed site work and infrastructure construction plans during the week of Dec. 22 with the city and South Florida Water Management District.
With an optimistic window of 60 days for staff review and permit approval, Ahmad said his client can be expected to decide on the next steps of development or sale after that point, likely in March.
Three lots totaling 5.77 acres are planned on the Narcoossee Road frontage for commercial or office uses. Those buildings could reach four stories with up to 90,000 square feet of retail and 30,000 square feet of office, but that urban density the city is encouraging would require structured parking, a cost that Ahmad doesn't expect his client to support.
Part of the balance of lakefront property, Lot 4 (13.98 acres), is reserved for multifamily, now an estimated 200 units across a few four-story buildings, Ahmad said. The latest conceptual site plan has also reduced the townhome count to 40 units because of a new layout of that segment near wetlands that may be preserved.
The owner has yet to hire an architect, a position Ahmad said he may be green-lit to fill once the horizontal construction permits are approved.
Al Helayel also has yet to hire a commercial real estate broker to market portions of the property for sale or land lease.
The property has already been cleared in 2017 of more than 50 mobile homes, a process that included relocation costs for each resident, Ahmad said. He expects Al Helayel to make a development decision within the first half of this year.
"Once he gets the permit he'll be enthusiastic to get into design," Ahmad said. "I think he's leaning toward leasing land for the commercial, developing (and holding) the multifamily site" and selling the townhome lots as fee-simple duplexes.
Further south on Narcoossee Road, Al Helayel owns another 3.9 acres that are pegged as Narcoossee Cove II, to involve redevelopment for up to 11,700 square feet of retail-commercial, 2,500 square feet of office and and 30 townhomes.