As the city of Altamonte Springs finalizes plans to launch an autonomous vehicle program that will soon shuttle residents to nearby shopping centers and the SunRail station, Eastwind Development has started building a luxury apartment community along where that route will go.
Construction began in October on its 261-unit The Aston at Uptown.
“We are certainly excited,” said Stephen Novacki, Eastwind’s vice president of development and acquisitions. “We’ve been planning this project for quite some time and now that we are officially under construction, we are just eager to get it built and get our certificate of occupancy as soon as possible.”
The Aston-branded community consists of a single five-story building with an attached parking garage wrapped around a courtyard and pool.
“It will be the most upscale in Altamonte upon completion,” Novacki added. “Luxury Resort-style living with state-of-the art amenities and lots of tech features throughout.”
The city and the Florida Department of Transportation are placing one high-tech feature within a short walk of the apartment complex.
Altamonte Springs was awarded a three-year operating grant from FDOT to launch an autonomous vehicle program that will ferry people to Uptown Altamonte, the SunRail commuter station, AdventHealth Altamonte Springs, and the Altamonte Mall.
Because The Aston at Uptown, located at 505 One Center Blvd, is across from the mall on Central Parkway, its residents will be able to walk to the nearest autonomous vehicle stop.
“With the transit stop out there, we look at this as a tremendous opportunity for our residents,” Novacki said. “The autonomous vehicles will go around City Hall, Crane’s Roost, the mall, and the train. You can cover a lot of ground without having to get in your vehicle.”
Altamonte Springs City Manager Frank Martz told GrowthSpotter that the city and FDOT are jointly building a flex path between Central Parkway and Ronald Reagan Boulevard near the SunRail station to accommodate pedestrians, bicycles, and autonomous vehicles.
Martz said the system will be rolled out in three phases.
The first phase would cover less than a mile from the Embassy Suites By Hilton Orlando North to the Altamonte Mall, traveling through other retail developments like the Renaissance Centre at 397 E. Altamonte Drive.
The second phase would extend the route to complete the loop around the Altamonte Mall and Uptown Altamonte, expanding east to AdventHealth Altamonte Springs campus at 601 E. Altamonte Drive.
The final phase would complete the 4.4-mile route, reaching businesses and residential developments along Centerpointe Circle and stretching east to Altamonte Springs City Hall at 225 Newburyport Avenue and the city’s SunRail station at 2741 S. Ronald Reagan Blvd.
Martz said the city has tabbed Orlando-based Beep to operate the system. That company’s autonomous product also rolls through Lake Nona and parts of Jacksonville.
The program will cost roughly $2.8 million to $3 million, but FDOT funded $2.4 million through a grant, Martz said.
He added that while the vehicles are self-driving, there would be an operator on board.
“Most of the routes will run along streets with slower speed limits to the north of State Road 436 Drive, connecting residents and businesses together, and will be a great alternative for existing residents,” Martz said. “The 4.4-mile route would reach existing and proposed developments of over 6,000 multifamily units, as well as roughly six million square feet of retail, office and medical office space. The proposed schedule would run seven days a week, with a slightly shorter schedule on the weekends, and targeted to synchronize with City events as well.”
Martz told GrowthSpotter in late September that he expected the program to start by the second quarter of 2023.
Meanwhile, The Aston at Uptown is expected to open by the third quarter of 2024, Novacki said.
Amenities include a cabana rooftop sundeck, a large courtyard amenity space, and a resort-style pool with a waterfall component and swim-up bar.
Eastwind is active in Central Florida and has experience developing transit-oriented communities.
The real estate company completed building one of the first apartment complexes across from the Tupperware SunRail Station in Kissimmee in 2019.
Including Aston at Uptown the company, which opened an Orlando office two years ago, currently has four multifamily projects under construction across Florida totaling 1,014 units.
Novacki said they’re on the lookout for more growth opportunities in this market.
“We have our sights on a couple of submarkets in Orlando that we like,” he said, “including the I-Drive tourist corridor.”