Epoch Residential revises apts plan for site east of Disney, lines up more land

Winter Park-based multifamily developer Epoch Residential has a new site in Orlando's tourism corridor under contract for a potential 250 apartments, and will close in mid-September on 14 acres east of Disney World, a lead executive with the company told GrowthSpotter.  

Located in the 10000 block of Winter Garden Vineland Road (C.R. 535), Epoch was told in May by Orange County planners to tone down its 340-unit density goal for the "Vista Oaks" project planned on 14 gross acres.

**UPDATE** Epoch paid $9 million on Sept. 20 for the property across four deeds, which were recorded Sept. 25 in Orange County. The sales involved three land owners behind multiple LLC affiliates. 

The site lies directly north of Unicorp's 258-unit Zen Luxury Living apartments, west of the Grand Cypress Resort golf course, and is surrounded by job drivers like Walt Disney World and supporting hospitality businesses. 

Epoch needed county approval to rezone the 14-acre assemblage to its own new Planned Development. Some planning staff couldn't support its original requested 25.75 dwelling units per acre, considered too dense when viewed next to another high-density project in Zen Luxury (20 units per acre).

Epoch wasn't inclined back in May to lower the project's density to 266 units, but in the past month agreed to reduce the unit count by 60, to 280.

The developer will also preserve 2.17 acres of wetlands on the property's northwest corner along C.R. 535, leaving 11.85 acres of net developable area. Those concessions helped Epoch earn DP approval on Aug. 23 from the Development Review Committee. 

"It took a concerted effort in site planning based on the new net acreage, so we had to go back to square one (for the unit count) to see what we could accommodate on the reduced site," said Justin Sand, president and COO.

The redesigned plans now feature four buildings of four stories, with 122 one-bedrooms, 126 two-bedrooms and 32 three-bedrooms. Surface parking will total 499 spaces, and 6.5 acres are reserved for recreational open space. 

The developer applied for an environmental resource permit on Wednesday with the South Florida Water Management District for Vista Oaks, and has permit requests under review with the county for demolition and mass grading, Sand said. 

"We hope to be underway with both demo and site work as soon as possible before year's end, and be vertical some time in late First Quarter 2018," Sand said. 

Epoch Residential will serve as general contractor on the project, and is receiving bids now for the demolition GC position. 

The company will seek a construction loan to help finance the project and should close on that in December, Sand said. He declined to forecast total project cost. 

Elsewhere in the county, Epoch Residential recently brought 10 acres under contract near Orlando's tourism corridor. The property is part of a 19.78-acre parcel that lies directly south of the Daryl Carter Parkway intersection, between Palm Parkway and Interstate 4, and owned by an affiliate of Daryl M. Carter, president of Maury L. Carter & Associates

The developer envisions 250 Class-A apartments there in a series of four-story buildings, Sand said. Epoch's timeline for producing and submitting a DP for that project and acquiring the land is still undetermined, he noted. 

The property lies directly northeast of a 2.75-acre parcel under contract to Simply Self Storage, with consideration for a 100,000-square-foot facility. 

Epoch and other property owners along Daryl Carter Parkway are banking on the future construction of an I-4 interchange by the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT).

FDOT has an official project number assigned to the future interchange, which is still working with adjacent property owners Carter and O'Connor Capital Partners on land contribution agreements. If approved, construction wouldn't start until 2018 at the earliest. 

Fugleberg Koch is Epoch's Vista Oaks project architect, Madden Moorhead & Stokes is civil engineer, Dix.Hite + Partners is landscape architect, Bio-Tech Consulting has done environmental consulting, and Becky Wilson, shareholder and chair of the Land Use & Zoning Group with Lowndes, Drosdick, Doster, Kantor & Reed, P.A., has provided legal counsel. 

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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