The founder and long-time lead executive of a local piping manufacturer is enjoying a new chapter in his career through real estate development, with two luxury home projects underway and a strategic land acquisition last week in Lake Nona.
Christopher Comins paid $1.5 million on Sept. 15 through an affiliate LLC for a 7-acre parcel at 12401 Boggy Creek Road, with the deed recorded Thursday in Orange County.
The undeveloped, Industrial-zoned land lies directly north and across the road from a 130-acre site where construction is now underway on a new Amazon fulfillment center.
"The property has two access points already, and the size of buildings that can be built there is substantial," Comins told GrowthSpotter. "I don't plan to build out the property now. I'll sit on it, wait one to two years and at that point things should be quite different. You can do warehouses there; I anticipate the property's future use will relate to Amazon."
In the meantime, Comins plans to invest in cleaning trash from the site, cutting back vegetation, and installing a fence and security cameras to end illegal dumping that had been occurring there.
Comins formed Custom Fab, Inc. in 1983 at age 23, building it over 34 years to six manufacturing branches across the country with 305 employees.
That company was acquired in August 2015 by Alabama-based U.S. Pipe, which re-branded the company as U.S. Pipe Fabrication. The firm now has 17 facilities and 565 employees nationwide, and builds piping systems for storm water and waste water treatment facilities.
Comins retired from the company in July 2016. Later that year he began focusing on his own commercial development projects.
Two of his first ventures were the purchase of old trailer parks in Belle Isle, which he's now redeveloping as high-end residential.
A 2.5-acre site on Lake Conway has been cleared, with five custom home lots of 0.5 acres each. The first slab was poured this week, he said, for what will be two-story homes built on spec with an estimated price point of $1.5 million each. RC Copeland Construction is the general contractor.
The other site involves a combined 9 acres of former commercial and trailer park land that Comins assembled on Daetwyler Drive, along Lake Conway.
A Development Plan was approved Tuesday by Belle Isle's City Council for 32 townhome lots, nine of which will be on the water with boat docks. The council approved a settlement in Comins favor after going through a mediation process, following its denial of his plan earlier this summer even though staff and Belle Isle's Planning & Zoning Board recommended approval.
Construction plans for the townhomes are now under review by Belle Isle staff. Comins estimates groundbreaking within six weeks, and 16 to 24 months from now for construction to be complete.