Office tower owner in Downtown Orlando plans 28k SF of ground-floor retail

Miami-based real estate investment firm Steelbridge Capital is investing more than $2 million to reposition the ground floor of its 16-story office tower in Downtown Orlando for more than 28,000 square feet of new retail and dining space. 

Located at 20 N. Orange Ave. on the northwest corner with W. Central Boulevard, the property houses the law offices of Morgan & Morgan and was formerly known as Wells Fargo Tower, but faced a branding transition this year in anticipation of Wells Fargo's lease expiration in May, when it vacated more than 23,000 square feet of branch and office space.

Steelbridge recognized the opportunity to reactivate the ground floor to retail that can take capitalize on the expansive sidewalk leading out to N. Orange Avenue, instead of just trying to attract another office/retail tenant, said Cindy Schooler, senior vice president with SRS Real Estate Partners and retail leasing agent for the property. 

"Steelbridge is very committed to this project, and it's already a completely different building than it was just one-and-a-half years ago," Schooler told GrowthSpotter on Thursday. "They've reset the interior common areas on the ground floor, and are re-doing all the commons areas on the remaining power floors. But the biggest focus has been on making the Orange Avenue frontage an amenity in downtown, bringing in new retail concepts that will draw people in." 

Ownership is proposing for the Orange Avenue frontage four new retail suites, three of which will likely be dining spaces of 1,300 to 2,800 square feet, and the fourth inline about 2,300 square feet likely allocated to a financial institution or general retailer.

The restaurant spaces will have 250 to 400 square feet of outdoor seating area each, taking advantage of large patio plaza. Collectively, the row will offer an estimated 10,500 square feet of new leasable area, Schooler said.

"We hope to deliver that retail space to executed tenants by February of next year, and most tenants we're in talks with now would be open about 120 days after delivering the space," she continued. "So by Second Quarter 2018 this should be ready." 

Steelbridge will also be investing in renovation and landscaping of the building's exterior plaza. Another 3,300 square feet of retail space for two users will be created on the building's peak, or hard corner. 

Then on the building's W. Central side, an estimated 15,000 square feet is planned for lease to a general retail user, ideally technology-focused, Schooler said. 

Steelbridge's estimated investment of $2 million or more incorporates renovations of the plaza infrastructure, interior renovations, and introducing new restaurant-specific infrastructure and utilities to the ground floor for the first time. 

The owner will seek approval from the city's Historic Preservation Board on Sept. 6 to place a retail canopy on the North Orange side over the planned retail inline space. 

Yvonne Baker, regional manager partner of Franklin Street, has been leasing agent for the building's office space, working in concert with Schooler and Steelbridge's plans for the new retail. 

ASD | SKY is the architect on the ground floor renovation efforts. 

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