The owners of a mid-century apartment building on Mercy Drive are planning a $32 million expansion and renovation as they strive to meet the demand for affordable rental homes in Orlando.
Developer Akarsh Kolaprath told GrowthSpotter the partners currently control 10.1 acres at 1625 and 1663 Mercy Drive, about halfway between W.D. Judge Drive and Princeton Street. They paid $1.5 million in 2020 for the land, and they have applied to the city for an update to the Growth Management Plan, rezoning and master plan approval for a multiphased project that would bring 229 new apartments to the area west of The Packing District.
The property currently is home to the 40-unit Urban Square apartments — a 2-story walk-up that was built in 1966. Kolaprath said the owners typically have a waiting list for available units there. “The demand since COVID has been extremely high,” he said.
Kolaprath said the first phase would be to build a 4-story, 80-unit apartment building at the front of the property. “The 40 who are living there now will be shifted over to the new building, then we will renovate and modernize that building and build the rest of it,” he said.
Right now the design team from Cuhaci & Peterson is selecting materials and cost-engineering the project to keep it within budget. “The goal is to use high-quality material and energy-efficient construction to make it more affordable,” Kolaprath said. “The demand is there. The main thing is to keep a cap on the price point to make it reasonable.”
The new buildings will be a mix of 3-story and 4-story structures with elevators. The one- and two-bedroom units will be slightly smaller than the existing apartments, and they will have in-unit laundry connections. The common area will feature a centralized laundry and small gym.
Koloprath said the site plan from Florida Engineering Group maintains 2 acres as a nature preserve that will be untouched.
The development group includes investors from Orlando, New York and New Jersey.
The property is on a bus line and within walking distance to the city’s Northwest Neighborhood Center, which has a public pool, tennis and basketball courts and computer labs.
Just south of the site, Tampa-based Blue Sky Communities is building Fairlawn Village North on land that was formerly owned by the city. The project has 48 units, of which 20 will offer permanent supportive housing for families transitioning from homelessness.