Demetree Global is charging on with plans for a mixed-use project that will blend more than 540 student housing units with trendy retailers and restaurants along one of the main gateways into the University of Central Florida.
For over the past two years, the Winter Park-based real estate company has been seeking to redevelop its longtime-owned 50-acre assemblage of land on the southwest corner of University Boulevard and North Alafaya Trail, into an upscale, mixed-use destination for students and residents alike, called Collegiate Village.
“We’re hoping to do something meaningful, and really create sense of arrival into the university,” Michelle Heatherly, director of operations of strategic development, told GrowthSpotter.
Plans call for nearly 1,800 student beds and over 150,000 square feet of commercial space, including a two-story, 20,000-square-foot food hall and outdoor amenities like a splash park and outdoor performance space.
Recently release renderings and conceptual site plans show, Collegiate Village will also feature active outdoor space and at least 10 shipping containers (around 320 square feet each) lining a large walkway, with bike and skateboard lanes in front of in-store retailers, called the Paseo, which is Spanish for a leisurely walk or stroll.
“We want to be program heavy and see ourselves partnering with the university and the local community‚” Heatherly said. “Anything from farmers’ markets to partnering with the College of Visual Arts and Design and doing some pop-up art galleries or movies at the park.”
Rusty Stoeckel, broker associate for Demetree Real Estate Services, is handling leasing for the project. Stoeckel was not immediately available to comment, but Heatherly said the the team is working to curate a tenant mix focused on serving the community.
“We’re trying to get local and regional tenants and maybe a few national tenants, but focusing on those that are community-focused like Lululemon, Toms or Warby Parker.... I can see [Lululemon] doing yoga in the mornings on the out-door lawn area we have.”
Orlando-based LandDesign Inc. is the civil engineer and landscape architect for the retail portion.
Plans show the student housing buildings will rise on the eastern and western ends of Collegiate Village.
To the west, Demetree is planning a student housing development with 366 student housing units (1,100 beds) across four, 5-story buildings that will rise on about 13 acres of land at 11850 University Blvd.
In order to move forward with that, the developer will be demolishing the old 450-unit Collegiate Village Inn student housing community, built in 1990.
To the west, the developer is also planning to build 176 units (511 beds) on a total of 2.79 acres, which is currently the location of The Knights Pub and a Subway, as well some other small tenants.
“That will be coming down too for student housing,” Heatherly said. She adds she believes the area could be cleaned up a bit.
“The [current] student housing [building]... I think it has to be one of the first student housing properties out there by UCF,” she said. “We’re looking to revitalize, invigorate and bring some life to the area and create some vibrancy again."
As part of the development of Collegiate Village, Heatherly said Demetree is also planning to renovate the first floor of the Collegiate Square Hotel at 12000 Collegiate Way, built in 1997.
“We plan on re-doing the first floor and putting a cool hotel bar, like the Grand Bohemian Hotel’s bar in downtown Orlando,” she said.
Willaim “Bill” Demetree, founder of Demtree Global, began investing in Central Florida properties back in the 1940′s. And played a monumental part in Orlando’s history by selling 12,500 acres to Walt Disney, who would go on to build Disney’s Magic Kingdom and part of Epcot on the property.
Earlier this year, the firm closed on a land assemblage in Winter Park, where its headquarters is located, at the 17-92 and N. Orange Avenue intersection.
No plans have been submitted yet, but the developer has been vocal about its interest in redeveloping the area to feature a possible mixed-use community similar to Collegiate Village.
The roughly 50-acre land assemblage along University Boulevard has been in the family for years, Heatherly said.
“Bill Demetree was a pioneer in land development and an early settler in Central Florida," she said. “He saw opportunity here years ago before UCF was even called UCF.”
The university was previously named Florida Technological University.
Demtree is aiming to start construction of the retail portion by the first quarter of the new year, with a target delivery date by Fall 2021.
The student housing construction will begin on either side of that in June, bringing more than 1,600 new student housing beds to the market, with a target delivery date of Fall 2023 on that portion, Heatherly said.
"Owning 50 acres by a major university... it’s unheard of today,” she said.
More than 69,000 students attend UCF, according to the university’s Fall 2019 enrollment statistics, making UCF the largest university by enrollment in Florida and one of the largest universities in the nation.
“But there’s no real main entrance and no signage,” she said. “You don’t feel like you arrived at a college campus, and our attempt at this is to create that kind of experience that says you’ve arrived to the university.”