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Development team for I-Drive resort wants to add apartments to the mix

The northwest corner of the resort development could be home to two hotels, a restaurant and apartments with structured parking, according to a conceptual site plan.
The northwest corner of the resort development could be home to two hotels, a restaurant and apartments with structured parking, according to a conceptual site plan. (Poulos & Bennett/staff edit)

The South Florida real estate company working with Lennar Homes to develop a new resort in the heart of Orlando’s tourism corridor on International Drive wants to revise the development program to trade-off most of its commercial entitlements for apartments.

Coral Gables-based Southern Hill Real Estate sold the bulk of the site just south of Dezerland to Lennar for its new vacation home resort. Southern Hill retained about 10 acres on the northwest corner of the property and has entitlements for 300 hotel rooms and 90,000 square feet of commercial and retail uses under the approved Planned Development.

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Now the developer has applied for a PD amendment to allow for up to 340 multifamily units and cap the commercial space at 10,000 square feet. The number of hotel rooms would increase slightly, to 310.

“We’re keeping the hotels, which are already approved at 300 rooms,” Southern Hills President Randall Hill said. “Because of COVID, we’ve had to readjust our thinking for the site. And there’s already a lot of retail in the area that I think needs to be reabsorbed.”

The homebuilding giant is pursuing plans to develop a resort community featuring a mix of detached homes, vacation townhomes and resort condos

Lennar has already begun site development work for the Storey Drive gated resort community that will have a mix of vacation homes, short-term rental townhomes and resort condos. The PD amendment seeks minor changes to Lennar’s development program, increasing the number of condos by 16 and swapping one townhouse for an additional vacation home.

A site plan filed by Poulos & Bennett shows the outparcel divided into two lots: 4 acres for the multifamily and about 5.5 acres for the hotels and retail. A conceptual layout shows two 150-room hotels, a 2,500-square-foot restaurant and two 5-story apartment buildings connected by a 500-space parking garage.

The case is tentatively scheduled to go to Orlando’s Municipal Planning Board on July 20. Hill said Southern Hill is waiting to get through the zoning approvals and site development before officially marketing the site. He already has multiple offers for the multifamily site.

“And so we are more focused on getting the PD amendment going, but we have a couple of very qualified developers that are very interested, and they’re both outstanding companies,” he said. The prospective buyers are considering construction due to the high lumber costs, he said.

The mixed-use project across from Orlando International Premium Outlets was originally approved for 200 apartments. The developer wants to build 349.

The North I-Drive tourism corridor has seen retail sites converted for development of high-end apartments. Tampa-based American Landmark Apartments is currently building the first of three multifamily communities approved on the Dezerland parking lot at the former Artegon Marketplace.

The former Republic Square shopping center on Universal Boulevard was demolished to make way for 350 apartments by Legacy Partners Residential. Legacy Universal is currently pre-leasing apartments for delivery this summer.

Last month the MPB recommended approval for Birmingham-based LIV Development to build 349 luxury apartments within the Grand National Planned Development on W. Oak Ridge Road.

“I think the North I-Drive Corridor is going to completely change over the next three or four years because of the added rooftops to this area,” Hill said. “And I think it’s healthy for regular retailers and food folks in the area by having more permanent type of residents in the area instead of depending completely on tourism.”

Have a tip about Central Florida development? Contact me at lkinsler@GrowthSpotter.com or (407) 420-6261, or tweet me at @byLauraKinsler. Follow GrowthSpotter on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

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