A vacant lot on East Colonial Drive that was previously slated for a Japanese steakhouse is now under contract to an Atlanta-based luxury apartment developer.
Trammell Crow Residential has rezoning request for a planned development with a density bonus on a four parcel assemblage at the corner of Colonial and N. Fern Creek Avenue for one of its Alexan branded communities. Alexan at Mills 50 would be a 5-story, mixed-use building with 246 residential units, including 15 live-work units on the ground floor, amenities and a dog park that would be open to the public.
The live-work units and public dog park are included specifically so the project can qualify for a density bonus, which requires 10% of the gross building area must be mixed-use. The dog park would be located just south of the parking lot that serves Sanctum Cafe, Smoke Pharmacy and other businesses located at 715 N. Fern Creek Ave.
Additional on-street parking would be provided on Colonial Drive, Altaloma Avenue and Woodward Street. The on-street parking will be for public use and can provide parking for the live-work units and leasing office but is not counted as part of the project’s required parking spaces.
The development matrix calls for 154 studio apartments, 29 one-bedroom units and 48 two-bedroom units.
While the application identifies the project as an Alexan-branded property, the signage in the submitted elevations include the name The Lofts at Mills 50. The elevations also show a graffiti-type mural treatment on the parking garage, which could be seen from N. Fern Creek Avenue and Woodward Street. The city code requires a public art component be included to qualify for a density bonus.
The 2.1-acre site encompasses nearly an entire block that was cleared four years ago for a Kobe Japanese Steakhouse. The owners demolished a Chevron station and former Barney’s Steak & Seafood for the hibachi style restaurant, but the project stalled shortly after the environmental remediation was completed.
Owner Chau Nguyen told GrowthSpotter his family scrapped plans for what would have been the sixth Kobe restaurant in Orlando and instead opted to expand to St. Petersburg.
In 2018, RaceTrac brought the property under contract for a potential fuel station and convenience store on the site, which is across the street from a 7-11, but plans were never submitted. That same year, the Ice Cold Auto Repair shop at the southeast corner of the intersection, was torn down to make way for a Starbucks.
The site is just a block from another infill redevelopment project, Colonial Promenade at the corner of Colonial and Mills Avenue. The city’s Municipal Planning Board approved a two-phased redevelopment that calls for renovations of three existing buildings on Colonial and Woodward, followed by the demolition of the standalone 7-11 store at 723 N. Mills Ave. to be replaced with a new 8,800-square-foot retail building.
If the project moves forward, it would be the first mixed-use residential community in the Mills 50 neighborhood since the DeBartolo Development built the Gallery at Mills Park in 2014. The property is zoned MU-2T, offering broad redevelopment potential for retail, multifamily or mixed-use, but the Trammell Crow plan would require a text amendment to create a subarea policy for the site.
Trammell Crow has been active in the Orlando market, having recently opened Alexan at Winter Park, the first of two apartment communities to be constructed on the campus of Cavalry Assembly of God just north of downtown Orlando. The company is building the second phase, Alexan North End along Clay Street. The two sister complexes have a combined 532 units. Both a 4-story, urban style buildings with structured parking.
In 2016, the company completed Alexan Crossroads, with 314 units in Lake Buena Vista, and sold it two years later for $64.5 million.
Other projects never quite got off the ground. Trammell Crow pulled out of deals to build Alexan-branded apartment communities in Audubon Park and on Universal Boulevard. Earlier this year, the Orlando City Council approved a controversial annexation and master plan for a 348-unit apartment community on the 5000 block of Hoffner Avenue, but Trammell Crow has yet to pull permits for the project, called Twelve Oaks.
This article has been updated with images and details from the city application.