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Don Mealey Automotive has a purchase contract for the 71.5 acres on John Young Parkway between Princeton Avenue and W.D. Judge Drive.
Don Mealey Automotive has a purchase contract for the 71.5 acres on John Young Parkway between Princeton Avenue and W.D. Judge Drive. (Orange County Property Appraiser/staff edit)

Longtime Orlando auto dealer Don Mealey had been eyeing the vacant land southwest corner of John Young Parkway and Princeton Avenue for years, but it was news of Dr. Phillips Charities’ plans for 212-acre The Packing District that convinced him to put down stakes in the area.

Now Mealey has a purchase contract on the 71.5-acre site, and he’s filed plans with City of Orlando to rezone it as an activity center he’s calling “District West." He told GrowthSpotter he plans to relocate his Sport Subaru dealership into a new 49,000-square-foot complex at the corner and develop the rest of the property for commercial and industrial uses.

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“We’re tickled to death to be across from the new Dr. Phillips Charities project and the new park,” Mealey said.

The site stretches from Princeton to W.D. Judge Drive. Tad Dixon, president of First Team Commercial, has been working with Mealey for over a year on the site selection and planning for District West.

He said investment by City of Orlando and Dr. Phillips Charities in The Packing District definitely made the site more attractive. “It gave us confidence that the area would improve,” Dixon said. “It’s unique to find this much property that’s still undeveloped inside the city limits.”

Dixon said the preliminary site plan calls for developing a 2-acre commercial outparcel on Princeton at the signalized intersection across from the Walmart Supercenter, and another on John Young that would have a right-in/right-out driveway. The 15-acres fronting on W.D. Judge Drive, just east of Princeton Oaks Midtown Business Park and north of Frito-Lay, would be available for industrial or flex warehouse use.

The first priority will be to get the new dealership underway, hopefully by early 2020. Mealey said his current Subaru dealership has outgrown the building it shares with Mitsubishi at 3772 W. Colonial Dr.

The new dealership is Subaru-prototype that was recently introduced in Las Vegas. This will be the first in Florida for the highly-amenitized design with a car wash and inside new-car delivery.

“The lounge is three times larger than anything we’ve ever done before,” Mealey said. “It’s like an adult playground.” The waiting area has its own cafe and a separate “quiet area” where customers can work while their vehicles are being serviced.

The expanded 28-bay service center is fully air conditioned. “That’s important because it helps you attract the best service technicians,” Dixon said.

Orlando’s Municipal Planning Board is scheduled to consider the rezoning, master plan and conditional use permit at its July meeting.

Plans for The Packing District have continued to unfold within the last year. Late last year, Dr. Phillips Charities gifted more than 100 acres of land at Princeton and John Young to the city to make way for a new $12 million YMCA Family Center and regional park. The park also will be home to the new Orlando Tennis Centre, which will have 16 full-size, lighted tennis courts, a 5,000-square-foot clubhouse with locker rooms and shade cabanas with water misting systems. The tennis center should be open in 2020.

Also planned for construction in the coming year are a new 300-unit apartment community and a retail complex anchored by a new food hall and microbrewery on Orange Blossom Trail.

Have a tip about Central Florida development? Contact me at lkinsler@GrowthSpotter.com or (407) 420-6261, or tweet me at @LKinslerOGrowth. Follow GrowthSpotter on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

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