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Watkins Real Estate Group is looking to develop a 306-unit student housing development at 5757 Simpson Rd.
Watkins Real Estate Group is looking to develop a 306-unit student housing development at 5757 Simpson Rd. (Orange County)

Atlanta developer Watkins Real Estate Group has submitted updated plans to a proposed multifamily development that has been in the works for more than a decade.

Plans recently filed in Orange County reveal the developer is proposing to build 306 units at 5757 Simpson Road that will be dedicated to student housing. The nearly 17-acre site sits just north of the Orange-Osceola county line, along Boggy Creek Road.

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Watkins paid $5.7 million for the land in 2007 through affiliate Boggy Creek Retail Development, LLC. That same year the firm worked to rezone the property for commercial use in conjunction with submitting a Land Use Plan.

The original idea called for a 170,000-square-foot retail development that would consist of four lots that bordered a small stormwater management pond, but those plans fell through.

Find out more about this Jacksonville-based real estate company and its plans to expand to Lake Nona.

Late last year, the developer shifted gears and sought approvals to build a 336-unit apartment complex.

Calls and emails sent to the firm were not immediately returned.

The site plan filed this week in Orange County provides new details about the rental community, showing the development will instead consist of seven, four-story student housing buildings in addition to a clubhouse and pool that will feature views of an adjacent pond.

VHB, Inc. is the assigned community planner and civil engineer. Charlan Brock Associates is the architect.

According to a 2018 Bloomberg article, more investors are opening their wallets to fund student housing developments near or at universities than years before. That's thanks in part to perceived recession-resistant returns.

In this case, the Watkin's development is near a number of colleges.

To the east of the property lies the University of Florida's College of Pharmacy, the University of Central Florida's College of Medicine and Valencia College's Lake Nona campus, which reports an enrollment of more than 5,000 students.

Big changes are being planned for the site, which has been pasture land for more than a century. Learn more about what's to come here.

A new 85,000-square-foot academic building in Valencia's Lake Nona campus is also in the works. The college is seeking $5 million in state funding for the first phase of the proposed facility, which is slated to accommodate another 5,000 students.

Watkins Real Estate Group is a subsidiary of Watkins Associated Industries, with offices in Atlanta and Orlando. The company provides development, leasing, management and brokerage services, according to its website.

The proposed Boggy Creek Crossings project follows a widespread drive to bring more aspects of suburban and urban living to the undeveloped outskirts of the master-planned Lake Nona community.

Immediately north of the property, Maitland-based developer Ralph Singleton is preparing a 75-acre Tyson Ranch subdivision that is poised to bring apartments, townhomes, a hotel and more than 187,000 square feet of commercial, storage and office space.

Last month, GrowthSpotter reported plans to bring on luxury multifamily real estate firm Bainbridge Companies to develop a 324-unit apartment complex within Singleton's mixed-use community.

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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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