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Austin apartment developer eyes Orlando market entry via Universal Blvd

This site plan shows Aspen Heights Partners' layout for 418 units on just over 26 acres set off Universal Boulevard, northeast of the Topgolf and Andretti Karting sites now under construction.
This site plan shows Aspen Heights Partners' layout for 418 units on just over 26 acres set off Universal Boulevard, northeast of the Topgolf and Andretti Karting sites now under construction. (Kimley Horn)

Austin-based multifamily developer Aspen Heights Partners is pursuing its Orlando market entry via 26 acres on Universal Boulevard, with plans filed Friday for a 418-unit apartment complex on a site that was under contract to a competitor last year, right between the future Topgolf, Andretti Indoor Karting & Games, and the bulk of Universal Orlando's 474 undeveloped acres.

Located north of the Las Palmeras by Hilton Grand Vacations timeshare hotel, the project's footprint would occupy 26.17 acres in the northeast corner of a 55-acre parcel owned by Orlando Equity Partners LLC (OEP), an affiliate of Southwood Development Company in Atlanta.

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Atlanta-based developer Trammell Crow Residential had filed plans last August for 656 units on the property, after saying in July it had the site under contract with an expectation to close by the end of 2016.

The same 26 acres were also pursued by Atlanta-based Davis Development, which showed a conceptual site plan for apartments in April 2016 to Orange County staff, but didn't have the land under contract with OEP.

Officials with Aspen Heights and Tramell Crow did not respond to requests for comment late Friday, regarding where each stood with OEP regarding a contract on the property.

Aspen Heights has developed and manages more than 20 properties around the country in multifamily, condominiums, student housing and assisted living, but this would be its first in Florida, according to its website.

Dubbed "Aspen Universal," the new Development Plan breaks down the 418 units as 276 one-bedrooms, 120 two-bedrooms and 22 three-bedrooms.

The single-phase project would have 13 acres of open space, to include 0.98 acres for a clubhouse/pool and pavilion, and six small pocket parks of a half acre or less. Amenities include a fenced dog park and sporting court, fitness center, swimming pool and reflection pool.

A mix of 16 residential buildings appear on the DP, comprised of three-story garden-style apartment buildings, and two-story buildings with five attached townhome units and inset garages.

The development follows a bevy of multifamily activity on or near Universal Boulevard in the past year.

Venterra Realty paid $78.5 million in March for the 425-unit The District apartments on Universal Boulevard at Destination Parkway, drawn to value-add potential of the building's vacant retail space.

Directly across the boulevard, developers are preparing the 20-acre Destination Shoppes as phased development of 150,000 square feet of retail, dining and entertainment. The latest plans from November include a 7-Eleven fuel station and 51,438 square feet of retail.

Multifamily developer ContraVest expects to break ground on horizontal site work this month for the 344-unit Addison at Universal apartments, planned for 12.17 acres across the street from The District and surrounded by the future Destination Shoppes.

And eastward at the Central Florida Parkway and S. John Young Parkway intersection, Wood Partners closed in late March on 13.58 acres, and plans to break ground this month on 314 apartments next next to a retail center planned by Toronto-based North American Development Group.

Kimley-Horn is civil engineer on the Aspen Heights plans, PEC is the surveyor, and Charlan Brock and Associates is the architect.

Have a tip about Central Florida development? Contact me at bmoser@growthspotter.com, (407) 420-5685 or @bobmoser333. Follow GrowthSpotter on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

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