Unicorp buys land for Ritz-Carlton Residences project, picks listing broker

An affiliate of Unicorp National Developments' president Chuck Whittall paid $3 million on Tuesday for land within The Ritz-Carlton Grande Lakes resort property, where he's been pegged to build 37 Ritz-Carlton Residence luxury homes in 2018 with prices to start at $2 million.

GrowthSpotter first reported on Aug. 28 that Marriott International chose Unicorp and local custom homebuilder Jones Clayton Construction to lead the project.

Located on the southwest corner of Central Florida and John Young parkways, the 11.43-acre site is set within the Grande Lakes Resort golf course, and currently serves as overflow parking for The Ritz-Carlton and J.W. Marriott hotels. 

"I'm working on a resort in Longboat Key and we ended up making a connection (with Marriott International) through that," Whittall told GrowthSpotter on Wednesday. "These will be on the Ritz property right beside the Grande Lakes Resort. With use of the Ritz-Carlton amenities it will be a beautiful place and a resort lifestyle." 

Julie Bettosini of Stockworth Realty Group has been chosen as exclusive broker to market the homes. Pre-construction marketing could begin as soon as next week, with prices starting at $2 million, Whittall said. 

"We expect to break ground in First Quarter 2018, and anticipate selling a home a month," he said. "We'll built on spec and as pre-sales come, though I believe we will start off with six spec homes." 

Initial marketing will include an on-site Stockworth Realty sales team at the Ritz-Carlton, national and international marketing efforts and direct marketing to Ritz-Carlton owners and guests, Bettosini said.

"The brand itself sets it apart from all other residential opportunities in Central Florida, yet maintains its roots in the heart of tourism with amenities unsurpassed by the exclusive Ritz-Carlton brand," she continued. "The enthusiasm already being expressed in the project by the market is very encouraging to our launch efforts."

Marriott retained ownership of the 11.43 acres when it sold the Grande Lakes Resort golf course and two hotels to Blackstone Group in 2015. 

The Ritz-Carlton Residences branding has been applied to 30 luxury home projects in varied stages of development across the United States, including six in Florida. Each private community is usually managed by The Ritz-Carlton hotel company, and features concierge services, in-residence dining and other unique service amenities. 

Homes in the 37-lot gated community planned for Orlando will be two-story, with two-bedroom and four-bedroom options ranging from 2,688 square feet to more than 3,200 square feet of conditioned area, according to the Development Plan filed in late August.

Each home would have a two-car garage and two driveway parking spaces. Three of the homes will be stand-alone, while the other 34 will share a wall as 17 duplex buildings. 

Close to 54 percent of the property (6.15 acres) would be developed, with 5.28 acres preserved as open space. The development would have a 5,993-square-foot clubhouse with swimming pool. 

Development rights were also signed over with the land purchase, which stipulate that the 37 single-family homes to be built must be owner-occupied Ritz-Carlton Residences, or another Marriott International brand that could be approved in the future. 

New York-based investment firm the Blackstone Group is preparing to spend more than $6.6 million at The Ritz-Carlton Orlando, Grande Lakes this year on interior renovation work to its lobby, lobby bar and lounge, terrace area and more, GrowthSpotter first reported in April.

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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