Orlando-based MMI Development has filed plans to build a 435-unit apartment community at the corner of Conway and Judge roads that will offer premium features unique to the Orlando market.
“We’re going to call it Progress on Lee Vista,” MMI President Mike Wright told GrowthSpotter. He said the project would consist of 4-story buildings with elevators, air-conditioned corridors, and surface parking. The developer plans to offer optional covered carports and enclosed garages.
Wright said he tweaked his standard multifamily design in response to space demands from tenants during the pandemic. The community will offer a mix of one-, two- and three-bedroom floorplans, and each will have a separate flex space that can be used as a dedicated workspace. At nearly 60 square feet, the flex space can be closed off from the main living room with french doors hung on barn-door hardware.
“Tenants use those for pets, for home offices. We’ve actually had a couple set up a home theater in there. They’ve done all kinds of things,” Wright said. The apartments also have walk-in closets in all the bedrooms and side-by-side washer/dryer units, both of which add to the feeling of spaciousness. The decision to design more square footage into each floorplan was calculated because so many people are working from home.
“Yeah, these are pretty big, and we’re trying to make it more flexible,” he said. “If you have to stay in your house a lot longer, you’ve got more rooms to get to, more doors, more privacy. Things like that.”
A recent survey of more than 220,000 renters by the National Multifamily Housing Council found that 25% of renters who moved in the last 18 months did so because they were working from home.
“We want to make this a place where people move into it instead of moving to a different and better apartment,” Wright said. “They will not find a different and better apartment. We don’t want them moving to another apartment — we want to keep them in this one.”
Wright said he chose the LeeVista site because of its proximity to Orlando International Airport. Just across Judge Road, developers have plans to build 2.5 million square feet of industrial space on the former T.G. Lee Dairy.
“There’s a lot of employment down there, and we think it’s going to become even more robust with the Brightline connection to the new southside terminal at the airport,” he said. “And we want to make sure that we have housing available for everything that’s going on down there that’s affordable. It’s not an affordable project, but we kind of look at it as premium workforce housing.”
Each building will be secured with a ButterflyMX video intercom system that allows residents to grant access to visitors with their smartphones. Even the elevators will be linked to the system, which allows for door-step package delivery.
Wright is also experimenting with a new flooring system in lieu of vinyl plank on the upper floors that will anchor his new “robust” soundproofing strategy. When the NMHC survey asked tenants what features were most important to them, they ranked soundproofing just below air conditioning and in-unit washer-dryer. In fact, 90 percent of respondents rated it as important or said they wouldn’t rent an apartment without it.
“We’re going to try to make these the most quiet apartments in Orlando,” Wright said. He’s installing the product in his Affinity at Riverview apartment community as a test case to determine its effectiveness. “With a lot projects nowadays, everybody’s using this faux wood floor, and it looks nice. But in reality, it’s not good if you want a nice quiet apartment. So we’re going to really spend a lot of money inside of these units to make them a peaceful place to live.”
Wright is also introducing new plumbing fixtures that will be a first in the market. The showers will be outfitted with faucets that have built-in oral irrigators so tenants will be able to floss their teeth in the shower. The buildings also will utilize toilets with built-in bidets.
“I don’t think there’s any major demand,” he said. “We just kind of figured out what makes sense and what makes people healthy. And that’s an extremely important item, in terms of overall health, both for men and women, that we really need to probably look a little bit closer in this country, in my opinion.”
The site plan works around the existing Racetrac gas station at the corner and concentrates the parking and stormwater pond on the area of the site located in the Airport Noise Zone B, which restricts residential development. All of the apartment buildings would rise within Zone C.
The community will have a standard Class A amenity package, with a pool, fitness center, fire pits and dog park with a grooming center. The clubhouse will have a studio for residents to record their own podcasts or YouTube videos. Multiple EV charging stations will be located throughout the community, and tenants will have access to a Tesla car-sharing program on-site, Wright said.