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Multi-Family Residential Developments

Austin-based company snags Casa Mirella apartment community in Windermere for $80.2 million

An Austin-based property management company that’s aggressively expanding its brand presence across the Southeast has acquired its first multifamily asset in Florida.

GVA Property Management purchased the 276-unit Casa Mirella in Windermere for $80.2 million, according to Orange County deed records.

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Illustrating how hot the multifamily real estate sector has become, the sales price — equal to $290,579 per unit — nearly doubles what the apartment complex sold for the last time the deed changed hands just six years ago.

In 2016, Casa Mirella, located just west of Ocoee’s Thomebrook Elementary School, sold to an entity affiliated with Connecticut-based Starwood Capital Group for $43.6 million, or $157,974 per unit.

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Austin McWilliams, a commercial real estate broker with First Capital Property Group who specializes in multifamily and mixed-use development in Orlando, told GrowthSpotter that several factors are driving up the sales price for apartment communities here.

Recently, the newly-opened, 300-unit Indigo Champions Ridge in Davenport’s ChampionsGate sold for $100 million — or $333,3333 per unit

“Orlando and Central Florida have become a hub for investment by major institutions due to its expected strong growth numbers for the foreseeable future, something that wasn’t necessarily true even prior to the pandemic,” said McWilliams, the senior sales and leasing manager with FCPG who’s not involved in the Casa Mirella deal. “Combine this with market factors accelerated by a great population migration to Florida and unprecedented access to capital, and you’re seeing rents and rent sale multipliers higher than they’ve been any other time during the last decade.”

The buyer nor the seller, Starwood Capital Group, had responded to requests for comment as of Wednesday afternoon.

Before purchasing Casa Mirella, GVA Property Management obtained a mortgage totaling $36.6 million from real estate financing firm Starwood Property Trust, a company affiliated with the seller.

GVA Property Management announced its acquisition of Casa Mirella and five other portfolio additions in a post on its LinkedIn page.

“GROW GVA! GROW GVA! GROW!” the post reads. “GVA Is Excited To Announce That We Have Increased Our Portfolio By 1,684 Units! Our New Acquisitions Include Properties in Texas, Georgia, Tennessee, South Carolina, and Florida.”

According to its website, GVA Real Estate Group is a vertically integrated real estate company committed to creating value in the multi-family real estate sector. GVA specializes in conventional as well as affordable opportunities, paying particular attention to expanding sub-markets.

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Prior to the recent string of acquisitions, the company’s portfolio included 14 properties across Texas, South Carolina, Tennessee, and North Carolina.

The seller, Starwood Capital Group, is the top apartment owner in the country, with more than $120 billion of assets under management.

Unicorp National Developments built Casa Mirella for $40 million in 2013 on a 20.94-acre property composed of two parcels. The smaller 2.72-acre parcel had originally been approved by Orange County for an assisted living facility, but poor market demand for a facility of that limited size led Unicorp to re-purpose the land for more apartments.

Casa Mirella was originally built with 216 units but was later expanded to 276 units. When Unicorp sold it in 2015 to New Jersey-based Raia Properties Corp. for $50 million, the developer vowed to put the capital toward other residential projects.

Today, Unicorp has two multifamily projects in the works within its O-Town West site near Universal theme parks with a third on the way.

The Glass House will total 900 units once all phases are complete within the Village district. Unicorp received a $77 million loan in December of 2020 from Goldman Sachs to finance Phase 1 of the Glass House project, which includes the first five-story tower, and a lagoon amenity.

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Work is also underway on The Bentley, a 396-unit midrise apartment community in the town center district. Unicorp received a construction loan totaling $68 million in April 2021 for this project.

The company plans to submit plans soon for its “super high-end” 200-unit Eden apartment community, where rent will start in the $3,000 range.

Have a tip about Central Florida development? Contact me at (407)420-5058 or dwyatt@GrowthSpotter.com, or tweet me at @DustinWyattGS. Follow GrowthSpotter on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn


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