McDowell Housing Partners, the affordable development arm of McDowell Properties, has reached an agreement with the Town of Eatonville that will allow it to move forward with plans to build a new workforce housing multifamily development.
At a City Council meeting earlier this month, council members approved a draft Development Agreement between the town and MHP FL II LLC. The agreement states the entity will acquire 14.93 acres of vacant land northwest of the intersection between Keller Road and Kennedy Boulevard.
According to Orange County property records, the three parcels that make up the development site at 1001, 2051 and 2057 W. Kennedy Blvd. are currently owned by a split-interest between Lawrence S. Banks, the personal representative for the Estate of Elmer Gerald Banks, and Kennedy Commerical LLC, which is tied to Clayton Investments Limited, led by Ken Clayton, a lawyer at the Maitland-based firm Clayton & McCulloh.
Christopher Shear, a project partner and the chief operating officer at MHP, told GrowthSpotter the company will build a 96-unit workforce housing development.
The community will consist of four, 3-story buildings with about 24 units each and a large clubhouse that will feature a resort-style pool, business center and a fully-equipped fitness center. Other amenities include a wide multi-purpose recreational trail with gathering areas, views of the lake and a community garden. Property management will also have an onsite location at the development.
MHP is securing final site plan approvals from the city and building permit approvals should follow shortly after, Shear said. “That puts us on a closing timeline of mid-April and a shovel will be in the ground first part of May.”
The company won the competitive 9% LIHTC housing credits from the Florida Housing Finance Corporation, which would help finance the construction of affordable housing development. Shear said Wells Fargo Bank is buying the tax credits and will be providing equity and originating a Freddie Mac loan for the construction of the community.
Orange County will also be providing about $75,000 to help finance the project. In total, the developer secured about $18 million in financing to build the project.
As part of the deal, the development must not be used for anything other than rent and income-restricted housing for a period no less than 50 years. All of the units will be reserved for households making at or below 70% of Orange County’s Area Median Income (AMI) all the way down to 30% of the AMI.
“The overall average income restriction for the property will be below 60%,” Shear said.
In order for the Development Agreement to be approved, council members terminated a previous promise for the property approved by the town in 2004. It’s unclear what the agreement consisted of regarding future development plans.
Clayton Investments Lmtd. and E.G. Banks were major property owners in the area. Records show they owned the neighboring Reserve At Maitland office property at 70 S. Keller Road. The partners sold the land where the current 110,700-square-foot office complex stands in 1999 for about $1.5 million. It was built in 2001.
The area in general is seeing a lot of interest from developers who are actively pursuing projects around the Town of Eatonville.
Nearby, to the east of Lake Shadow, a 244-unit multifamily community recently sold for $57.5 million. The Courtney At Lake Shadow apartment complex at 545 S. Keller Rd. was bought by Virginia Beach-based Hercules Living. The seller, a company tied to Harbor Group International, bought the project in 2017 for $44.35 million from ContraVest, its original developer.
Across from the proposed workforce housing project, Orlando-based MMI Development is building an $80 million, 437-unit multifamily community at 2454 W. Kennedy Boulevard.
And to the east of I-4, the Falcone Group is embarking on a large-scale redevelopment plan for the former Hungerford school site with Sovereign Land Company and Keewin Real Property Company. Plans call for creating a mixed-use village that will combine “new retail and restaurant concepts” with residential, commercial mixed-use, and public/civic-use space.
Shear said MHP’s parent company, McDowell Properties, has been acquiring assets in the Orlando market for years, but this would be MHP’s first new construction project in Orange County.
The affordable housing division was established in 2019, and has since closed on five tax-credit developments for a total of 615 units and expects to close on seven more properties this year with about 1,200 units.
“We’re hoping to deliver a great property that will allow us to demonstrate our ability and work on future projects with the county,” Shear said.
Regarding the project in Eatonville, he adds, “If you look up the road in Maitland... if you look at the difference between their rent and our rent, you’re looking at over 30% difference between our units and what those units currently rent for,” he said.
“This property is going to be indistinguishable, from a quality perspective, as the Maitland assets and those in the area.”