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Disney plans intern apts & commercial on 154 acres of Flamingo Crossings (Updated)

Shaded in gray are the two portions of Flamingo Crossings land totaling about 154 acres, which Disney is now preparing for multi-family and commercial development. Western Way runs horizontally across the top, and Flamingo Crossings Boulevard runs vertically down the middle.
Shaded in gray are the two portions of Flamingo Crossings land totaling about 154 acres, which Disney is now preparing for multi-family and commercial development. Western Way runs horizontally across the top, and Flamingo Crossings Boulevard runs vertically down the middle. (HCI Planning)

UPDATED: APRIL 20, 2016 12:02 PM — Disney is planning 1,300 student apartments for its college intern program and 150,000 square feet of commercial for 154 acres of its Flamingo Crossings property, south of Western Way.

Disney hired Kathy Hattaway of Maitland's HCI Planning to see the application through Orange County approval. She filed a Land Use Plan on Tuesday, and met with Orange County planners on Wednesday morning to discuss.

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The property lies north of Orange Lake Country Club property and Lake Britt, south of Western Way, west of S.R. 429, and east and west of Flamingo Crossings Boulevard.

The start of development planning for the property comes in advance of a Comprehensive Plan amendment that was initiated for the property last year, and is set to be adopted on June 28 by Orange County Commissioners.

This land will be de-annexed from the Reedy Creek Improvement District into Orange County, and an interlocal agreement between RCID and the county will be adopted concurrently with the comp plan amendment in late June.

Orange Lake Resorts' land offers opportunity for hotel or commercial developer to establish early foothold near Walt Disney World's western main gate.

The project would occupy 121.32 net developable acres, on portions of four taxable parcels owned by Flamingo Crossings LLC and RCID.

Proposed land uses include commercial (14.4 acres), multi-family residential (106.92 acres, with 20 dwelling units/acre in four-story buildings) and conservation/wetlands (32.76 acres).

The 1,300 apartments, to be located on the parcel east of Flamingo Crossings Boulevard, could include studio units as small as 350 square feet.

One of the reasons Disney is de-annexing the property from RCID into the county is because RCID's charter doesn't have a provision to allow full-time housing. So by moving to the county they maintain flexibility in the future to convert that intern housing to standard apartment rentals, according to county staff.

Disney did not respond on Tuesday to questions about how the commercial space would be utilized, though past comments from the company indicate retail and dining will be the focus.

The 93-acre west parcel to be developed includes 33 wetland acres, which will be preserved and potentially featured as waterfront for retail/dining outlets.

Hampton Inn & Suites is confirmed as a potential flag for the third of seven planned hotels, but brands also seen for remaining hotels on marketing materials at the ICSC Florida conference.

Disney is seeking new Planned Development zoning, with a proposed future land use of Growth Center Commercial, Medium Density Residential and Conservation.

Western Way and Flamingo Crossings Boulevard are owned and maintained by RCID. Improvements to both rights of way, including the extension of Western Way to CR 545 (Avalon Road), will be completed by RCID prior to the phase of development that requires these improvements for access.

The property lies directly north and east of 23-plus acres being marketed for sale by Orange Lake Resorts since last September, which has PD zoning allows 60,000 square feet of commercial, 500 short-term rental units and 400 hotel keys.

The new LUP does not include the 32.3 acres of Disney-owned land encircled by Western Way and Flamingo Crossings Boulevard, where a local town center with up to 500,000 square feet of retail and dining has been forecasted, but has yet to be subdivided or sold.

Unmet demand for retail and dining in the nascent Flamingo Crossings market is growing, where Disney has sold three parcels of a projected seven to Alaskan hotel developer JL Properties.

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JL opened its first two hotels there on Feb. 12, the Springhill Suites and Towneplace Suites Orlando at Flamingo Crossings/Western Entrance (498 keys overall).

JL is still working on plans for its third hotel at Flamingo Crossings, for which it bought the 4.97-acre parcel last September for $4.25 million.

While there's no projection yet on when construction will start, the third should be a 250-key Hampton Inn & Suites, said Stuart Newmark, operating partner with Huntsville, Ala.-based Yedla Management Company, whose affiliate Revolutionary Road Hospitality Group will manage the hotels for JL Properties.

JL has been very pleased with the guest traffic to its first two properties since February, and plans to open its own on-site dining option, Flamingo's Bar and Grill, in early May with seating for more than 100.

"The retail space is an important component of the continued evolution of Flamingo Crossings," Newmark said. "We're opening up a restaurant because we knew we'd need our own dining option until there were others in the nearby environment."

"As more retail opens up it will only be a plus for guests that stay at our hotels."

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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