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A view from the front entry of 55 West, on W. Church Street.
A view from the front entry of 55 West, on W. Church Street. (Gary W. Green / Orlando Sentinel)

The Blackstone Group paid a combined $175.25 million in a national portfolio deal last Thursday for two large multifamly properties in Orlando from Boston-based TA Realty, including one of Downtown Orlando's tallest towers.

The world's largest private equity firm paid $105 million for the 33-story, mixed-use tower 55 West (461 units) at 55 W. Church St. in Downtown Orlando, and the multi-tenant retail space known as Church Street Market directly south (54 W. Church St.), per a deed recorded Monday morning.

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TA Realty previously paid a recorded $75 million in 2011 for the 55 West properties.

There's now value-add opportunity for Blackstone in leasing up the property's 72,000 square feet of retail and office space, of which about 35 percent remains vacant.

A view in April 2013 from unit 2910 in 55 West, which overlooks downtown to the North, with Lake Eola to the right.
A view in April 2013 from unit 2910 in 55 West, which overlooks downtown to the North, with Lake Eola to the right. (Gary W. Green / Orlando Sentinel)

Foundry Commercial has been marketing two suites of 55 West office space for lease in the bridge over Church Street (8,677 SF) for the past six months, and took over listing the ground floor retail in March, said listing agent Gabriel de Jesus.

The ground floor has 13,343 square feet available where Blackstone will accept office or retail tenants. Another 2,666 square feet is reserved for California Tortilla, which has invested close to $600,000 in recent months to fully build out the space, and is now negotiating with potential franchisees to operate the unit, vice president of franchise development Jim Tisack told GrowthSpotter.

The prospective sale of 55 West first surfaced in March 2016, when TA Realty began inquiring publicly about transferring contracts it held with the City of Orlando prior to a sale, the Orlando Sentinel reported at the time.

55 West was originally developed as a condominium in the mid-2000s but stalled during the recession. Following TA Realty's purchase in 2011 it finished the top four floors. The property has an attached garage, 24-hour doorman service and a pool deck.

Details on the New York-based restaurant pegged for part of the building's commercial space, and a second tenant being considered.

Greystar was brought on within the past week by Blackstone to manage 55 West's apartments, with ZRS Management released.

Blackstone also paid $70.25 million on Thursday for the 432-unit Estates at Park Avenue, at 2801 Biltmore Park Dr. in MetroWest. Built in 2003, the property spans 26 acres.

TA Realty had previously paid $43.25 million in 2010 for the property. BH Management Services was brought on as property manager, replacing ZRS.

Context on the potential and entitlements for this Central Business District property, what it's owner paid last year, and what challenges may lie ahead.

Both assets were sold from TA Realty's Fund IX LP, which disposed of six multifamily properties totaling 2,514 units across four states to Blackstone Real Estate Income Trust for approximately $430 million, the seller announced on April 19.

That Fund IX also sold a 45-property industrial and office portfolio for $854.5 million some Brookfield-managed real estate funds, the company announced in early April.

No mortgages were recorded by Blackstone affiliates in relation to the two deals.

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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