Publix will anchor two planned mixed-use projects underway in the Greater Orlando market that involve putting multifamily housing next to a brand-new shopping center — a concept local experts see as a growing trend.
In Apopka, the grocery store will move into nearly 50,000 square feet of retail space at the Shoppes at East Shore project led by Illinois-based WMG Development, according to city documents. That plan for 28 acres of property along Apopka Ocoee Road and W Keene Road calls for the construction of 224 apartment units to the north of the shopping plaza.
In Sanford, Publix will serve as the centerpiece for King’s Crossing, a shopping center with 75,000 square feet of retail space in the works by North American Development Group. That project is envisioned to serve as a gateway to Seminole County along S.R. 46 just northeast east of the Sanford Airport, and includes a 260-unit apartment complex at the eastern edge of the site.
North American Development Group — which has 25 other shopping centers across Florida with Publix anchoring nearly half — closed on the 28-acre property in early October for $5.5 million. Commercial real estate and brokerage firm NAI Realvest represented the seller, the family of Walter N King, in the deal.
“This is an exciting project,” Paul P. Partyka, a managing partner with NAI Realvest, said in a news release announcing the land sale. This mixed-use project will be the development catalyst for the area that is called the Gateway to Seminole county.”
He said in the news release that there are more than 4,000 new homes in the construction pipeline for the surrounding area. He said this shopping center, expected to open in late 2023, will play a key role in supporting that growth.
Representatives with WMG Development nor North American Development Group could be reached for comment.
The news for both properties signals more growth for Publix, which has opened nine new stores throughout the southeastern U.S. since October 1 with four others expected to open by month’s end, according to its website.
The Lakeland-based company’s 1,313 store locations brought in $39.2 billion in sales through the third quarter of 2022, ending on Sept. That represents a 10.7% increase compared to this same time frame last year.
Publix-anchored shopping centers perform better than others, said Trevor Hall, the executive managing director of land services with Colliers International.
“There is no stronger grocer anchor tenant/ occupant,” he said. “Shoppers with money show up at least once a week.”
And with the success of Publix, apartment developers want to build close by, he added.
That’s why Hall expects to see more projects like the ones introduced in Apopka and Sanford by WMG Development and North American Development Group.
These concepts that mix groceries and apartments at a time of high housing demand are already popping up more and more.
Orlando’s Intram Investments has found success with its master-planned Sunrise City, a 238-acre mixed-use community on S.R. 535/Vineland Road where a number of apartment buildings surround a Publix-anchored shopping center.
In early 2019, an affiliate of Northwood Ravin and Tampa-based Framework Group paid $25 million for 45-plus acres immediately east of the shopping center, straddling both sides of Sunrise City Drive. The firms are currently building 465 units with an unprecedented amenity package designed to recreate a luxury hotel experience. The first units are scheduled to be delivered in 2023.
Birmingham-based multifamily developer Arlington Properties paid $6.32 million for 27 acres in Sunrise City in April with plans to bring the community another apartment complex.
Dr. Phillips Charities also chose Publix as the grocer for The Packing District, where it will abut The Cannery apartments in the northeast quadrant of the mixed-use district.
There are also examples of developers looking to add on multifamily housing to existing Publix shopping centers, such as what New York-based Kimco Realty is trying to do at the Marketplace at Dr. Phillips in Orlando.
Multifamily units enhance the value of the land and bring natural foot traffic to the shopping center, he added.
“You now have 300 units with people living there, and where are they going to shop?” he said. “They are going to walk out their front door and go to the grocery store. It’s a win-win. Smart owners are looking to add multifamily to the site.”
But grocery-anchored retail centers, even ones without housing on site, have proven to be resilient assets, according to a recent white paper report by Co-Star.
“As the U.S. economy heads toward a likely recession, grocery-anchored shopping centers appear once again to be well positioned to weather the storm, much as they did during the initial stages of the pandemic,” reads the report written by Andrew Zola and Kevin Cody. “Two of the most compelling cases for investment in grocery-anchored retail are its stability during economic distress and its relatively low competition from e-commerce. The pandemic spotlighted both attributes, as grocery sales were among the most resilient in 2020, a time when consumer spending shifted from discretionary and in-person experiential shopping toward necessity and online shopping.”
The Shoppes at East Shore in Apopka calls for the development of a 60,237-square-foot commercial building with space for the Publix grocery store and two other retail tenants. The small strip mall is flanked by two small detached buildings: A 2,550-square-foot retail spot and a 4,200-square-foot medical office.
Land across from the grocery store building totaling 4.7 acres is reserved for the future development of three commercial outparcels.
To the north of the shopping plaza, site plans show a multifamily element on 7.5 acres that will be called The Residences At East Shore, site plans show. The developer is requesting a waiver from the city to allow the apartment buildings to rise as tall as 65 feet.
The Kings Crossing conceptual site plan shows a 244-unit apartment complex made up of five 4-story multifamily buildings and a large clubhouse. Amenities include a pool and pool deck, dog park, community courtyard space and parking garages in addition to surface parking options.