Developer pursues new permit for land targeted by FDOT in I-4 expansion

South Florida-based developer The Ferber Company is pressing ahead with subdivision plans for 31 acres under contract along Palm Parkway that have been targeted for I-4 Beyond the Ultimated-related expansion, potentially boosting the land's value to complicate an eminent domain claim by the Florida Department of Transportation. 

Located just north of the intersection with Daryl Carter Parkway, the property is part of 38.8 acres owned since September 2015 by  Colorado-based Excelsior Capital Partners, an investor in distressed debt and real estate. 

GrowthSpotter first reported on July 12 that the FDOT had issued a "Notice to Owner" letter in mid-June that Excelsior's entire property would need to be acquired. 

FDOT spokesman Steve Olsen said Monday the state has hired The Spivey Group as its appraisal firm for the Excelsior property, but appraisals were not yet complete. 

Ferber Construction Management filed a Preliminary Subdivision Plan on Monday with Orange County to subdivide 31.05 acres of the Excelsior property and create 14 commercial lots, along with a stormwater and open space tract running horizontally along the I-4 border and a pump station tract. 

Exact sizes of those lots were not specified on the PSP, likely because their widths can still change until the platting process. But their display dimensions forecast lots ranging from 1 to 3.2 acres in size.

Executives with Ferber and Excelsior did not respond to requests for comment on Monday. 

If Ferber can drive up its appraised value for the land in the coming months through successful permitting, that could motivate FDOT to look elsewhere for its stormwater retention needs near the future Daryl Carter Parkway interchange, likely directly south on the opposite side of I-4. 

Over the past two years Excelsior has prepared its 38.8 acres for infrastructure work that is now on pause, and has all the land under contract to three different developers. It features 4,000 feet of frontage along I-4, and has been cleared and fully mass graded. 

Dubbed "The Beacon" by Ferber, David Gabbai and Lynsey Alegria of Colliers International in Orlando has been marketing the project's retail lots since this past spring. 

Gabbai said here in April that Ferber anticipated delivering building pads of 0.5 to 2.5 acres for retail, dining and a hotel, with site work and utilities complete by the fourth quarter of 2019.

Ferber wanted to position the project for restaurant owners as "Crossroads 2.0," in reference to the 29-acre Crossroads of Lake Buena Vista shopping center a few miles to the south where tenants are expected to be forced to relocate in the coming year as part of another FDOT land taking for I-4 expansion. 

Excelsior and FDOT will have independent appraisals of the 38.8 acres. Ideally those two prices would be close, reflect developed value of the land, and they'll agree to meet in the middle. 

If not, once the parcel is appraised the FDOT will make an "Initial Written Offer" to the land owner. If they can't agree on a sale, the FDOT could file a condemnation suit. 

What's not clear is if the three buyers under contract will be compensated for their time and investment in designing future projects on the site. 

MEI Civil is Ferber's civil engineer on the PSP, and Shannon Surveying the surveyor. 

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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