AIDS Healthcare Foundation buys corner lot in Downtown Orlando for new store

California-based non-profit AIDS Healthcare Foundation paid $2.2 million in late August for a prominent corner parcel in Downtown Orlando, and plans to introduce its affiliate retail store with a low-cost pharmacy and blood testing service. 

Located at 1349 N. Mills Ave., the 0.57-acre vacant lot lies on the southeast corner with Virginia Drive, across from The Fresh Market-anchored Mills Park retail center. 

The foundation has a chain of thrift stores named Out of the Closet that are well established in South Florida, which include a pharmacy and testing center for free or low-cost testing of HIV and sexually transmitted diseases. 

"We recently opened one in St. Petersburg, and have a prototype design for the building that we've used on one site in Fort Lauderdale," president Michael Weinstein told GrowthSpotter. "We think Mills Avenue is an up-and-coming area, like to have corner lot locations and thought we could easily adapt our design for this property." 

The AIDS Healthcare Foundation also recently inaugurated its first low-cost clinic in Central Florida near this site at 1702 N. Mills Ave., opening it in partnership with Dr. Edwin DeJesus and the Orlando Immunology Center.

The foundation is now working with its in-house architect to adapt the store plans from Fort Lauderdale to submit to the city of Orlando for review, and has yet to hire a local civil engineer, Weinstein said. 

The non-profit's goal is to break ground in the fourth quarter, he added, pending permit approvals. Total projected investment is currently $4.5 million, no construction loan will be needed, and bids will be sought from local general contractors in the coming weeks, Weinstein said. 

The property was sold by an affiliate of Bank of the Ozarks, which took it on as surplus land in July 2016 when it acquired C1 Bank. C1 had previously paid $1.75 million for the lot in December 2015 with plans for a new branch. 

Jorge Rodriguez, managing director with Colliers International in Orlando, began marketing the property in mid-May for Bank of the Ozarks and had three prospective buyers lined up over the next two months, all within range of one another on price and timing.

One developer's offer was chosen and a contract was negotiated, but within days of closing the AIDS Healthcare Foundation jumped in with an offer of full price, quick closing and immediate hard deposit.

"I've been doing this 14 years, and in my career have probably been involved in only five deals like this where a buyer is committed enough to pay full asking price, put hard money Day 1, and have a 15-day due diligence period and 10-day close," Rodriguez said. 

"We understood there was another prospective buyer and found an all-cash deal would make us more attractive," Weinstein added. 

The AIDS Healthcare Foundation works closely with Orlando group Impulse, an organization for young gay men that promotes healthy lifestyles. It also sponsored a float in last year's Rose Parade in Pasadena, California, that honored victims and survivors of the Pulse nightclub shooting.

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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