Estero-based ComTerra Development Group paid $10.14 million for 20-plus acres on Jan. 15 at the northeast corner of Universal Boulevard and Destination Parkway, where it plans150,000 square feet of retail, dining and entertainment at a key future intersection of Orlando's tourism corridor.
Under contract for nearly a year while due diligence was conducted, land was subdivided and development plans remain unfinished, the property known as Destination Shoppes is now close to filling a tenant roster, Jim Nashman, principal with ComTerra, told GrowthSpotter.
"We're at varied points of discussion now with retailers, with everything from in-line shops to restaurants, quick service (restaurants) and entertainment venues that will draw even more attention to this area," said Nashman, who declined to name the potential tenants.
ComTerra has partnered on the purchase and development with Toronto-based Craft Development Corp., via affiliate Destination Shoppes LLLP. A sale price for the land was confirmed on Jan. 25, when the deed was recorded by Orange County's comptroller.
Destination Shoppes will encompass 20-plus acres across four frontage lots of the 50-acre OEP East Parcel, which was owned by Orlando Equity Partners, an LLC affiliate of Southwood Development Company out of Atlanta.
A mortgage of $17 million was acquired by the two development groups from Florida Community Bank to finance the acquisition and buildout.
Land leases for the development of as many as 15 retail and dining outparcels and anchor spaces are being coordinated by Julia Sosa of LandQwest Commercial.
Nashman aims to capitalize on the connection of Destination Parkway to International Drive that could be ready by mid-2016.
Tail ends of Destination Parkway between Universal and I-Drive have been laid, and the initial portion that connects S. John Young Parkway and Universal Boulevard was built in 2014. The road extension could be completed by the third quarter of this year.
ComTerra originally proposed Destination Shoppes with a suburban-esque layout that would place surface parking on the front of each lot, and buildings at the rear.
That's the opposite of what the I-Drive Vision Plan standards will be for commercial development, which will require buildings be set near the street with wide sidewalks, and parking on the property's rear. This parcel will fall within that Vision Plan's boundary and its development code, if county commissioners adopt both later this year.
Even though Destination Shoppes can be developed under current zoning standards, Nashman said his group has tried to be as sensitive as possible to development goals promoted by the I-Drive Vision Plan.
His development team has held three meetings with Orange County planning staff over the past six months regarding layout of their development, with tweaks made at the county's request for buildings to be placed closer to Universal Boulevard -- where possible.
"We'll push some of the buildings closer to the curb, but inter-connectivity within our parcel is an issue. We have to accommodate access roads behind as well," Nashman said. "You can have a vision plan with a long-term horizon, and Orange County's vision there is for 20 to 30 years. So we can have uses on site today that change over the next 20 years."
ComTerra has yet to choose a general contractor for the project, and will do so after finalizing lease tenants and coming to a final agreement with county planning staff on the property's design.
The remaining 30 acres of the former OEP-East parcel are occupied by an initial phase of apartments by Altamonte Springs-based developer ContraVestwithits The Courtney apartments (355 units), and the option of a 345-unit second phase by the multifamily builder and manager.
Orange County commissioners approved a Preliminary Subdivision Plan (PSP) change in December to refocus the parcel for 700 apartments and 150,000 square feet of retail.
ContraVest expected to finish construction by this month on that first phase, and has an option to develop the adjacent lot for a second phase of The Courtney. The company told GrowthSpotter in September it was evaluating the feasibility of a second phase, and if it decides to act on an option to buy the lot, could begin construction on that phase in Fourth Quarter 2016.