Unicorp National Developments is set to start work soon on a third luxury apartment community within its nearly 350-acre O-Town West mixed-use site near Universal theme parks.
CEO Chuck Whittall told GrowthSpotter that he expects to submit application materials to Orange County in the coming weeks for a “super high-end” multifamily community at the end of Daryl Carter Parkway, on the opposite side of Apopka Vineland Road. Rent for the 200 units will start in the $3,000 range, he said.
“We are going to build the quality you’d find in a million-plus dollar home here,” he said. " It’s going to be called Eden. There will be a grand entrance coming in here; just really, really high-end apartments.”
Unicorp plans to add a Vegas touch to this apartment community. Whittall said the company that has been tabbed to design this product also designed Wynn Las Vegas, a five-star, $2.7 billion resort.
“It’s a company that’s really, really sharp,” he said.
The vision for O-Town West goes back more than a decade when Unicorp brokered a deal with Maury L. Carter & Associates to acquire a nearly 200-acre assemblage. Unicorp closed on the last chunk, totaling 76 acres, in 2019 for $49 million.
The massive mixed-use site is approved for more than 1,500 residential units with retail, dining and office space divided among four sub-districts: Village at O-Town West, The Crossings at O-Town West, the Town Center at O-Town West and the City Center at O-Town West.
Today, the site’s retail space is 100-percent leased, Whittall said.
Unicorp expects to file plans in the near future for a 13-story hotel within O-Town West’s city center. The company plans to move its headquarters into the top floor.
In June of 2021, a news release submitted by Unicorp stated the plans for the hotel were upgraded in size— going from 166 rooms to 200.
“We can’t announce the brand just yet, but it’s a big name,” Whittall said last week “It’ll definitely make a little bit of movement here. This is going to draw a ton of people from all over.”
The city center got a big boost in 2020 when Marriott Vacations Worldwide announced it would be moving its corporate headquarters to O-Town West. Once construction of the nine-story, nearly 300,000 square foot space is complete this year, it will bring 2,000 Marriott employees to the area. A parking garage is also under construction next door.
When Marriott signed the contract with Unicorp in January of 2020, Whittall said it would be the largest anchor tenant in the city center.
“We are proud and excited to have Marriott Vacations Worldwide as our largest anchor tenant in this magnificent project,” he said in a statement at the time “Like all of our projects, it will be a stunning addition to the City Center at O-Town West landscape. We are committed to build the best places where people live, work and play, and this will be no exception to our continued effort to make Central Florida the place to be in America.”
Several retailers and restaurants are already open at O-Town West— including the world’s largest White Castle and Orlando’s first Portillo’s.
The eateries here are doing well, Whittall said.
When he stopped by the newly opened World of Beer recently, he was pleasantly surprised by what he found inside.
“It was jam packed,” he said. “I was nervous when I came out here originally (before development began) that it was a little bit green, but the area has accepted all of this growth. We’ve built a lot of square-footage out here. This whole area has just come alive.”
Whittall expects the restaurants on site to do even better once three luxury apartments totaling 1,500 units start welcoming tenants.
Two of them are currently under construction and are expected to finish by year’s end.
The Glass House will total 900 units once all phases are complete within the Village district. Unicorp received a $77 million loan in December of 2020 from Goldman Sachs to finance Phase 1 of the Glass House project, which includes the first five-story tower, a lagoon amenity and a clubhouse that Whittall says is unlike any other.
“I think we have the nicest clubhouse literally in the nation,” he told GrowthSpotter. “It’s a $12 million clubhouse. It’s got kind of a Frank Lloyd Wright style to it with it’s slanted roof, and it’s big and open inside.”
The clubhouse, once open, will have a virtual reality game room and a restaurant serving three meals a day.
Tenants can order cocktails to sip by the pool. On weekends, a DJ will play music.
Work is also underway on The Bentley, a 396-unit midrise apartment community in the town center district across from the proposed Eden site. Unicorp received a construction loan totaling $68 million in April 2021 for this project.
The Bentley’s on-site amenity programming will include a resort-style swimming pool with jacuzzi, resident lounge with a coffee bar, a social area featuring billiards and arcade games, a theater room, entertainment lanai with HDTV, ZEN garden with hanging moon chairs and water features, outdoor walking trail, a firepit, 24-hour fitness center with TRX and yoga studio, a conference room, bike rentals, outdoor gaming areas offering cornhole, Jenga and putting green, and electric car charging stations.
These resort-style residential assets may become a growing part of Unicorp’s portfolio, Whittall said.
“This is just super exciting,” he said. “We are looking at doing this somewhere else. I think this resort-style apartment living is going to really go over well. It’ll be like you’re on vacation.”