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An elevation design for three of 12 townhomes planned in Lake Eola Heights by David Weekley Homes, on E. Concord Street.
An elevation design for three of 12 townhomes planned in Lake Eola Heights by David Weekley Homes, on E. Concord Street. (David Weekley Homes)

Prompted by growing demand from Millennials in Orlando for urban living options, production builder David Weekley Homes has contracts on two half-acre parcels in Downtown Orlando with plans for 23 townhomes, the company's first of this product type in the Central Business District.

"We've done similar three-story city homes in Baldwin Park, and some two-story villas in Winter Park, but this is really a new product for us, not much out there comparable to it," Brent Bartholomew, division president in Orlando, told GrowthSpotter.

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"As the nation's largest privately held builder, we're doing this concept now in Downtown Houston, Atlanta and Charlotte. So we've been able to call counterparts there and learn what buyers are asking for, what Millennials want, and take from those strengths to offer something new."

The homebuilder's first is a 0.66-acre parcel at 115 E. Concord St., just east of N. Magnolia Avenue, where it wants to rezone from an office zoning type to Planned Development for a 12-lot townhome development dubbed "Lake Eola Heights."

The second is a 0.56-acre parcel at 844 N. Thornton Ave., on the southwest corner of the E. Marks Street intersection, where a similar rezoning request would allow for a 11-unit, rear-loaded townhome development dubbed "Park Lake Highlands."

Both rezoning requests should be heard on July 19 by Orlando's Municipal Planning Board.

The undeveloped parcel on E. Concord Street is under contract by DW Homes with owner Ray Design Development, which bought it in January 2015 for $300,000.

The property on N. Thornton Avenue is home to a former branch of Night Lite Pediatrics Center, owned by Devi Enterprise LLP since March 2001 for $600,000.

The denser townhome projects should to carry a hard cost investment of close to $100 per square foot on Thornton Avenue for three-story, 2,000-square-foot units, while that investment could be $115 per square foot on Concord Street for four-story units of up to 2,500 square feet.

Those costs are notably higher than the $70 to $80 per square feet David Weekley typically spends to build its single-family homes in the area. Costs for labor and equipment go up for the denser vertical development, Bartholomew said, but the company believes there's increasingly unmet demand for such a product priced from the mid-$400,000s to mid-$600,000s.

"We know the public has come to buy on a price-per-square-foot approach, but that's a largely commercial concept for leasing space that has made its way into valuing property," Bartholomew said. "Rather than chase a price per square foot, while it's important, we'll looking more at whole dollar value that fits into the bands our customers are asking for."

Pending approval in the coming months from Orlando's Planning and Zoning Commission and City Council for the rezoning, followed by construction plans and VIP rollout to realtor partners by year's end, Bartholomew projects construction to start in First Quarter 2017.

"I think we're marrying up a new product offering with the public that wants it, and at the same time offering the serivce people have come to know from us," he said.

Have a tip about Central Florida development? Contact me at bmoser@growthspotter.com, (407) 420-5685 or @bobmoser333. Follow GrowthSpotter on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

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