Atlanta-based multifamily developer PENLER will break ground this month on its first project in the Orlando market, a new 288-unit apartment complex just off West Colonial Drive in Clermont.
“It’s significant in many ways,” Managing Partner Brian Metzler noted. “It’s the first new apartment community to break ground in the Clermont submarket since a moratorium on apartment construction was lifted. It’s also the area’s first multifamily community with direct access to the South Lake Trail. This development is momentous for PENLER in that it marks our sixth new market since we founded the firm two years ago.”
PENLER was founded in 2019 by Metzler and Graham Carpenter, two former Pollack Shores executives who previously developed projects such as downtown Orlando’s Steelhouse apartments and The Princeton at College Park.
“We’ve both been very active in the Tampa and Orlando markets, more so even than Atlanta,” Carpenter said. “Collectively, we’ve worked on a half-dozen multifamily developments in those markets and another half-dozen acquisitions over the last 10 years.”
PENLER paid $6 million on March 30 for the East Clermont Village property and sourced a $33.9 million loan from Fifth Third Bank. The seller, CRE broker and investor Tad Dixon with First Team Commercial had purchased the property, as part of a 50-acre parcel, in 2019 and rezoned the northern half of it for multifamily. He sold the southern half, which fronts on S.R. 50, to Car Max for $7 million.
Dixon told GrowthSpotter PENLER first put the site under contract in early 2020 but the deal was delayed due to COVID. “They ultimately reengaged after everyone saw that COVID could be managed,” he said.
PENLER worked closely with Atlanta-based architect, Dynamik Design, to create a 2-story multifamily prototype that would appeal to renters in a post-COVID environment. Each building has 24 garden-style apartments, all with direct entrances. Interiors feature open floor plans, quartz countertops, stainless steel appliances, vinyl plank flooring, high-end lighting, and washers and dryers.
Carpenter said this prototype is uniquely well-suited to the Clermont Village site because Lake County’s maximum density is 12 units per acre, where other jurisdictions allow up to 18 units per acre for suburban-style apartments.
“For such a large site, we like the lower-density feel and lots of green space, with direct access to the South Lake Trail,” Carpenter said.
The 9-mile Lake-Apopka Trail extension connects to the popular West Orange Trail — both are sections of the Florida Coast to Coast trail system. PENLER also will build a community bike shop at the trailhead. Other outdoor amenities include a great lawn, grilling area and dog park.
The community also has a 6,000-square-foot clubhouse with fitness center, resident lounge, leasing center and bike shop with storage.
“This is our third version of this two-story prototype we’ve developed,” Carpenter said. “The first was in Atlanta, and the second is in Nashville. This is the largest, so we wanted to go bigger on the clubhouse with a more expansive pool and deck, which are oriented toward the trail.”
“In the midst of a global pandemic that has brought significant obstacles to virtually every industry, our talented and dedicated team has started three development projects and acquired one,” Carpenter said. “This is a testament to our agility, product and capital partners.”