Two local investors who banked land in Apopka 27 years ago in anticipation of a future Orlando Beltway are ready to cash in, pursuing rezoning for 107 acres with residential and commercial buyers taking interest.
Located in northwest Apopka, the property is split between two parcels that straddle the future 1B section of the new Wekiva Parkway (S.R. 429) projected to open in Spring 2018, less than a mile north of a new interchange at W. Kelly Park Road.
Orlando Beltway Associates acquired the property in 1990, and is an investment vehicle of Full Sail University co-chairman and CEO James "Bill" Heavener and local real estate developer Patrick Morley, head of Casselberry-based Christian ministry The Man in the Mirror.
"This was a deal put together by Bill (Heavener) and Pat Morley years ago, and I'm taking care of it for them," Chuck J. Mitchell Jr., president of First Capital Property Group, told GrowthSpotter. "We're just land speculators that saw an opportunity with a future (Orlando) beltway, and it only took 25 years to have it come through there."
In anticipation of that Wekiva Parkway extenson, the land owners have a large-scale Comprehensive Plan and Future Land Use amendment going before Apopka's Planning Commission on Dec. 12, in which they ask to change the zoning from rural to mixed-use interchange. Staff are recommending approval.
That new zoning would align with a "Neighborhood Residential" overlay district to the east for a maximum 847 homes/units, and to the west an "Employment" overlay district from the Kelly Park Crossing's form-based code for up to 1.1 million square feet of commercial/industrial, or 382 residential units.
"We have extremely interested parties already," Mitchell said. "The eastern (56.5 acres) will be residential and we have a party interested in doing a single-family subdivision there, looking at detached homes but with a unit count yet to be determined."
The western 51-acre parcel is pegged for commercial and will benefit from the city's broad "Employment" designation, which Mitchell said is also under negotiations to a large local company.
"We have a regional employer that is looking to land-bank that property now and move there later," he said. "This use allows for a lot of commercial flexibility, including (light) industrial."
Potential sale of the properties in 2018 is subject to the owners getting their conditional use request approved, a process that can take nine months or more, Mitchell estimated.
Prospective buyers will run their due diligence concurrently over the coming year, in anticipation of a city approval in Third Quarter 2018. Orlando Beltway Associates will sell the land outright, with no plans as of now to invest in site infrastructure, Mitchell said.
Jim Hall, lead planner on the project with VHB, Inc., said his team is optimistic that environmental review will not find any challenges on the property with sand skinks or karst formations, which can increase chances of a sinkhole.
Infrastructure for the eastern 56.5 acres is well established, with utilities now accessible off of Kelly Park and Plymouth Sorrento roads.
In contrast, utility connections for the western 51 acres are farther away. Two-lane county roads on both sides of the S.R. 429 extension may need to be expanded as developers target the area.
On the eastern side of S.R. 429 directly north of Heavener and Morley's land, another 51 acres along Plymouth Sorrento Road known as "Bridle Path" is further along in development, with plans for 150 single-family lots.
Owned by an affiliate of Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania-based hedge fund and short-term bridge loan manager Ambit Funding, that land is under contract by Maryland-based Hailey Development, which could develop the property itself or sell off lots to one or more homebuilders.